John R. Gregory was one of the most celebrated athletes at Woodward High School, but he is trying to give young African-American men the message that education, not athletics, is the key to a prosperous future.
Mr. Gregory, a 1959 graduate of the high school, will join five other honorees being inducted into the 25th annual Woodward High School Hall of Fame during its induction dinner April 21at the Inverness Club, 4601 Dorr St.
The president of Gregory Enterprises is being inducted into the Hall of Fame with:
•Lois "Sally" Schoonmaker Lowe, who graduated in 1943.
•Peter F. Hess and Charles A. Kallil III, both 1966 graduates.
•Keith M. Bell, Sr., a 1974 graduate.
•Jill Laytart Trendel, a 1985 graduate.
During the celebration, which begins at 5:30 p.m., past inductees also will be recognized and presented with a special commemorative medallion designed by Terry Lesniewicz, president of Lesniewicz Associates, a 1966 Woodward graduate and 2006 Hall of Fame inductee, organizers said.
A former executive at Owens-Illinois Inc. and the Dana Corp., Mr. Gregory said one of his goals is the give back to young people, particularly African-American males, through education and opportunities that are available to them off the field and court.
Mr. Gregory went on to Baldwin-Wallace College where he was an all-conference athlete in football and track and signed an contract with the Chicago Bears before an injury ended his career.
He said his degree, though, led him to greater heights in the corporate arena. His company is a manufacturing consulting firm in the Columbus area.
"I was drafted by the Chicago Bears, but I felt if I would have concentrated on being drafted, there could have been a number of things that could have happened to me, like injuries, not getting my degree and not preparing myself for later life," Mr. Gregory said.
"That is the one huge key that kids need to understand. They have skills and ability, but it looks like [athletics] is their No. 1 priority and they don't look at all the variables that can affect them.
"Then you look at all the athletes who struggle after they end their pro careers. Even though they make it into the pros, it's cut short," Mr. Gregory added.
The other Hall of Fame inductees this year also have impressive careers.
Ms. Lowe is a charter member of the Alzheimer's Association's Northwest Ohio chapter.
She has coordinated many social service projects over the years as a licensed social worker and clinical therapist. She has been involved in children's, senior, and mental-health agencies as well.
Mr. Hess has been head of operations for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in San Francisco since 1979.
His policies and regulations in the field have been at the forefront of air pollution regulatory programs around the world, according to hall of fame organizers.
He is a noted lecturer and published writer on air pollution issues.
Mr. Kallil is corporate vice president of Leggett & Platt, a $4.3 billion diversified manufacturing company in Carthage, Mo.
He also is president of two business groups, the Steele Tubing Group and Digital Printing, hall of fame organizers said.
Mr. Kallil has worked at Leggett & Platt for the last 19 years.
Mr. Bell is the principal at Westerville South High School in the Columbus suburb of Westerville and also serves on the Defiance College Board of Trustees.
Hall of Fame organizers said Mr. Bell has forged strong business and community ties with his past and present schools over the years while developing positive reinforcement programs for students.
Ms. Trendel is a postdoctoral fellow and teacher of laboratory skills and techniques at the University of Toledo.
A published researcher, Ms. Trendel's work is helping in the development of new therapies to help alleviate illness and suffering, organizers said.
The Woodward Hall of Fame Association will grant scholarships to various seniors for their academic performances.
Since the inception of the scholarship program, some $116,000 has been awarded.
The scholarship winners also will be recognized during the dinner, organizers said.
Contact Clyde Hughes at: