Aloysius A. Spitulski(1919-2012)

(NEWS ARTICLE) Aloysius A. Spitulski, a Toledo native who helped found the Commodore Club, an organization for young people who lived in the city's Polish-dominated 14th political ward, died Tuesday in Manchester Presbyterian Lodge in Erie, Pa., where he had moved to be closer to his son. He was 93.

Mr. Spitulski, called Ollie by nearly everyone, had suffered a series of strokes in the last three weeks and his health rapidly deteriorated, his daughter, Kathleen Brown, said.

He was born in Toledo to Henry and Helen Spitulski. He attended Scott High School but left after his junior year to work, his daughter said.

Mr. Spitulksi worked at a North Toledo machine shop and as a church janitor until taking a job as a die caster at the Chevrolet transmission plant on Alexis Road, now GM Powertrain. He retired in 1984 after 25 years.

He was athletic and coached youngsters in softball and football, two sports he himself excelled at, she said.

"He was so strong in his body," Mrs. Brown said. "He was known as coach. He had this great teaching ability. He didn't need a degree to accomplish what he did."

Mr. Spitulski's interest in fitness led him to work out in his basement, performing push-ups and other exercises, as well as running. He ran his first, and only 10K race with his daughter in Cleveland when he was 65, she said.

In 1938, Mr. Spitulski was one of several young adults who founded the Commodore Club, an outlet for youngsters in the neighborhood named Kuschwantz by the Polish immigrants who populated the area. He served in various capacities, including recording secretary and club historian.

He was a frequent contributor to the club's newsletter and for more than six decades created annual scrapbooks of its activities that the club kept.

His daughter said his contributions still appear in the monthly Lagrange Street News.

Newspaper clippings of the time said the club's purpose was "to band youths 18 years and older to keep them off the streets."

During World War II, 72 of the club's 92 members were serving in World War II.

In the club's early years, members would gather at Louie Kolodziejski's Barber Shop on Buckingham Street.

"There was a vacant building next door and for some reason we decided to rent it and give poor Louie his back room back," Mr. Spitulski said in a 1988 interview with The Blade.

The club's name was taken from a barn owned by Chet Wasikowski, Mr. Spitulski said.

"Some of the members used to put on plays there and the barn had a sign on it: Commodore Club. Chet was our secretary so we named our club the Commodore Club," Mr. Spitulski said.

The Commodore Club is now on Lagrange Street near East Manhattan Boulevard.

Mr. Spitulski was drafted into the Army during World War II and became a staff sergeant.

Son Kenneth said Mr. Spitulski was sent to Korea in preparation for an invasion of Japan, but the war ended with the dropping of two atomic bombs.

Mr. Spitulski had a lifelong interest in sports. He made scrapbooks for teams he followed.

"He got me on it too," the younger Spitulski said.

"I was interested in the space race and I would collect space articles since 1961. His scrapbooks go back to when he was a young kid in the1930s."

Mr. Spitulski and his wife, Veronica, who died in 1994, were avid dancers. The couple met at Toledo's Trianon Club and were married in 1942.

"They were known as a great dancing couple," their daughter said.

"Dad had his own style, not the ballroom style," she said. "He was self-taught."

His favorites were the polka, fox trot, and waltz.

"A lot of women liked to dance with my Dad. He had a wonderful hold; it was with respect, very gentle and tender," his daughter said. "He was my first dance teacher, when I was 5 years old."

After his wife died, he vowed he would never dance again, his daughter said.

But six years later, with the encouragement of a friend, he attended a dance party.

That motivated him to take lessons at a dance studio, where he had to learn ballroom dancing.

He took videos home and returned to the dance studio to practice the new styles.

Balance issues forced him to give up dancing at age 89, she said.

Until he moved to Pennsylvania, he lived in South Toledo and attended St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Catholic Church.

Surviving are his daughter, Kathleen Brown, son, Kenneth; four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

The funeral will begin at 9:30 a.m. today at W.K. Sujkowski Funeral Home, 3838 Airport Hwy., followed by a Mass at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick of Heatherdowns.

Contact Jim Sielicki at:">">"> or 419-724-6050.

Published in Toledo Blade on Dec. 10, 2012