Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Dash Between: Teddy Witt, Elyria's first woman patrolman, Lorain County Community College academic advisor

Teddy Witt told her family that God directed her life. She, in turn, helped guide troubled youngsters toward become responsible citizens, nontraditional college students on their journey in higher education and victims of rape and domestic violence on a path toward healing.

She prayed about becoming the first woman to hold patrolman status with the Elyria (Ohio) Police Department. Once convinced this was part of a divine plan, Teddy took the job in 1973.

While on the police force, the 1965 Lorain Admiral King High School graduate met and married fellow officer Larry Witt, divorced father of two preschoolers. Teddy raised Larry's kids from a previous marriage along with their biological son in Grafton, Ohio.

“She always treated us as her own children; we never felt otherwise,” said daughter, Jennifer Tipple. “She once told me she knew she was to marry my dad. She prayed about it and felt that was where God wanted her to be. Lucky for us that was the case, because we would not be the people we are today without her.”

Teddy continued her education, earning a bachelor's degree from what is now Ashland (Ohio) University, and becoming an academic advisor at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio.

In May 2008, Teddy was told she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

"She couldn’t hold a pencil in her right hand," her husband said. "She got to the point where she couldn't write a note with her hands."

The disease progressed so quickly that within a few weeks she had to leave the college. She gradually lost her ability to walk, stand and talk. She communicated with friends, family and former colleagues with the aid of a computer with eye control, until she could no longer master her eye movements. The illness eventually took away her ability to breathe.

"She dealt with (ALS) by surrendering to God," her husband said.

Click here to read about the Dash Between Dec. 3, 1947, when Teddy Witt was born Theodores Zestoki in Lorain, Ohio, and Sept. 25, 2010, when she died at age 62. The story was published in the Oct. 24, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Dash Between: Paul Dziak received Bronze Star Medal in 1945, Clearview High School diploma in 2003

Paul Dziak, who was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism in World War II and served with the volunteer fire department in Sheffield Township, Ohio, in the 1950s and '60s, received his high school diploma in 2003 -- 20 years after retiring from the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. power plant in Avon Lake, Ohio.

He officially graduated from Clearview High School in Sheffield Township at age 80 through a program that allows school boards to give diplomas to veterans who left high school early to serve in WWII and the Korean War.

Click here to read the feature in the Oct. 10, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram about The Dash Between January 25, 1923, when Paul was born in Cokeburg, Pa., and Sept. 28, 2010, when he died at age 87.

Please note: The photo above, showing Paul with his precious diploma, came from the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram's files.

Paul's family is unsure where the photo on the right, showing him as a wartime soldier, was taken, but the name engraved on the wall -- A.V. Fawcett -- suggests it was taken in England. If you recognize the site, please let us know.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Dash Between: Vic Nicholas, Brunswick High shop teacher, storyteller

Victor A. Nicholas, a man of many talents, taught woodworking to Brunswick High School students, told humorous stories to fellow teachers and could fix anything.

"I mean anything," said his son, Vic L.

Friends raved about Vic A.'s ability to weave colorful stories about commonplace events in a manner reminiscent of Mark Twain and Will Rogers. Yet when their attempts to repeat his stories failed because they could capture his folksy delivery and comedic timing.

His ability to address just about any topic likely stemmed from his varied life experiences and interests.

Vic grew up and began running a drilling rig at strip mines for the Tasa Coal Company in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

He lived in Grove City, Pa., while managing regional mining operations before moving to Hinckley Township, Ohio, and taking a teaching post in Brunswick, Ohio.

Click here to read about "The Dash Between" Oct. 18, 1928, when Vic was born in Bristol, W.Va., and Sept. 2, 2010, when the industrial arts teacher died at age 81, in the Oct. 4, 2010, edition of the Medina County Gazette.