Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Woodward to add 6 to its hall of fame

5 alumni plus football coach to be honored at weekend event

Five Woodward High School alumni and a longtime teacher and football coach are to be inducted into the school's hall of fame during a dinner Saturday at the Inverness Club.

Lou Meszaros, whose name became synonymous with Woodward football during a 10-year coaching and teaching career there, will be honored posthumously.

The alumni to be inducted are Jim Leininger, class of 1963; Roosevelt Gant, class of 1972; Dr. Judith Anne Babka Furlong, class of 1973; Francella Washington, class of 1976, and Jeanne Cranon Fuqua, Class of 1977.

The inductions will bring to 181 the membership of the Woodward Hall of Fame since its inception in 1983. It includes distinguished graduates, administrators, faculty, staff, and friends of the school.

Also during the dinner, the Woodward Hall of Fame Association is to announce finalists for its scholarship grants to current Woodward seniors. Since 1988, the association has awarded $184,500 in scholarships.

A ceremony honoring past and current school library personnel also are to be part of the evening's events.

Mr. Meszaros, a science teacher, had coached basketball at Beaverdam High School and football at Delta, Whitmer, and Waite high schools before his 1958 hiring at Woodward.

Known at the time as a City League doormat, to the point that it was dropped from league competition several times, the Woodward team experienced an improvement of fortunes under Mr. Meszaros. Although it still had a losing record during his tenure, it won more games (31) during those 10 years than it had during the previous 33 seasons.

Mr. Meszaros resigned as football coach in 1968 for medical reasons and was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches' Hall of Fame in 1973. He was a job-placement coordinator at Woodward from 1968 until his death in 1976.

Mr. Leininger, a retired teacher, coach, and administrator has been involved in Christian missionary work since 2006, teaching industrial welding and basic baseball skills to youth in Hungary and Africa.

After graduating from Bowling Green State University, he taught physical education and industrial education at high schools in several Ohio districts and later was principal of Ayersville Middle School. He also worked as a journeyman pipe welder.

During his teaching career, he coached high school basketball for 14 years and high school baseball for 26 years, including Ayersville's state championship baseball team in 1997.

Mr. Gant, an outstanding football player at Woodward and later the University of Toledo, is the owner of R. Gant LLC., a local general contracting and construction management firm that has been involved in the construction of the Chrysler Corp. Toledo North assembly (Jeep) plant, Fifth Third Field, and projects for the YMCA of Greater Toledo, the Metroparks of the Toledo Area, the Toledo Zoo, and the Toledo Public Schools -- including the new Woodward High.

He was elected a delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business in 1995, was the chairman of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Trustees in 2002, and co-founded the faith-based Covenant Community Development Corp. Before starting his own business, he held several positions with the city of Toledo and state of Ohio and was executive director of the UpTown Association.

Dr. Furlong, practicing with Flower Family Physicians, is the organizer and leader of a local support group for Sjogren's syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease in which people's white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands.

She completed her internship and residency at Flower after graduating from the University of Toledo and the Medical College of Ohio, now the University of Toledo Health Science Campus. She established her own family practice in West Toledo before returning to Flower, where she also is associate director and a faculty member of the family medicine residency program.

She is an active participant in the Lucas County Colorectal Cancer Coalition, leads a Girl Scout troop, and teaches children's liturgy at her church in Swanton.

Ms. Washington, a business process design manager with Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Roanoke, Va., was one of Woodward's most celebrated basketball players. She led the school's first state championship team in 1976, was named City League Player of the Year and made the state All-Tournament team. She received an athletic scholarship to Ohio State University, where she was a key player on the 1978 Big Ten championship team and was named a Kodak Women's All-America honoree in 1979.

She was inducted into the City League Hall of Fame in 1995, and in 2010 was selected as the 30th all-time most accomplished Toledo-area athlete by a panel assembled by The Blade.

She volunteers in Roanoke with groups helping youth and the less fortunate.

Ms. Fuqua, who has worked for more than 25 years in insurance, in 2006 founded C.H. Barnett Construction Co. to serve the transportation and logistics needs of the construction industry. She is majority owner and president of the thriving Indianapolis firm, which is named for her maternal grandfather.

After graduating from the University of Akron, she became a divisional claims representative with Kemper Insurance. She brokered global risk-management insurance for numerous corporations.

She is active with professional and community organizations and takes pride in guiding young women and girls toward careers in construction.

Prepaid reservations are required to attend the induction ceremony, which begins with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. For information: Jim Wilusz at 419-385-7193 or Michelle Jacob at 419-474-2131. Tickets cost $40. For reservations, e-mail

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