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Toledo Legal News - News Was Judge Lewandowski the inspiration for Alex Keaton?


photo of Judge David LewandowskiTo be perfectly honest, Domestic Court Judge David Lewandowski’s childhood sounds a little like the 1980’s sit com, Family Ties, with the young David playing the role of Michael Fox’s Alex Keaton. Like the fictional Alex, David Lewandowski grew up young and conservative in a democratic house. “My dad wasn’t too happy with my political views. Of course, he was Polish, Catholic, Union and a factory worker who didn’t think too much of Republicans. But he was very good to me. He encouraged me and my parents were very supportive.”

Born in Toledo in 1951, Judge Lewandowski grew up in the old Polish neighborhood, which was a very working middle class neighborhood. “There were a lot of cops and fireman dad’s where I grew up, as opposed to a lot of lawyers and doctors.” In fact, the Judge’s father worked in the Champion Spark Plug factory while his mother worked a number of jobs including a stint in Bingham Stamping.

As a child the Judge was educated by young, progressive Franciscan nuns at St. Catherine’s elementary school and Jesuit priests in high school at St. Francis de Sales. Interestingly, the Judge shared a graduating class with a number of other future lawyers among them Dennis Witherell at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick and John Carey, a partner at Watkins, Bates & Carey. “Really, what a waste of talent,” says the Judge with a sly smile. “All these bright, young kids who all went into the law. Why couldn’t they have been scientists or cancer researchers? Why lawyers?”

It was in high school that Lewandowski pledged his allegiance to the old elephant of the GOP. “By the time I was a senior in high school I was the state chairman of the Teenage Republicans. I got lucky and was able to do a lot of really neat things. It was 1968, the whole Nixon/Humphrey/George Wallace hoopty-do. I got to say the Pledge of Allegiance when Spiro Agnew came to town for a rally. And my dad, he was so good to me. He used to drive me downtown when I couldn’t drive to meetings and rallies. Little Hitler Youth Movement meetings as far as he was concerned. But he was really good about it.”

After high school Judge Lewandowski attended college at OSU after receiving a financial award in the form of a National Merit Scholarship. In addition to paying for most of his tuition, the scholarship also came with a summer job at Champion Spark Club where the judge worked as a chucker chip hauler. It was his responsibility to remove razor sharp shards of metal from the machinery. “It was my job to get under these oily greasy, smelly, nasty machines and haul these giant bins of scarp metal down to the basement of the factory. That made me really want to get my education.”

Towards that end, the Judge majored in political science. “Besides not wanting to work as a chucker chip hauler my whole life, I was always, since middle school at least, something of a junior politico. In fact, my role models growing up were politicians. I was probably a pretty disgusting child.”

When asked who his favorite politician was as a child, the Judge responds with, “Well, like every good Catholic school boy, I really liked John Kennedy.” When it is pointed out to him that Kennedy was a democrat, the Judge’s response is, “You know what? Anyone my age who tells you that doesn’t admit that they had JFK’s inaugural address memorized is lying.”

When he graduated from OSU, Judge Lewandowski moved back to Toledo and started going to law school at the University of Toledo. While in law school Lewandowski began working for the GOP in Toledo and by his final year in law school had become the Director of the Board of Elections. Two years later Judge Lewandowski moved over the Auditor’s Office when Dan McNamara was elected Auditor. Then, when McNamara died in an auto accident, Judge Lewandowski was appointed Auditor, a position he held for three terms before becoming obtaining his current position as a Domestic Court judge in 1993.

The Judge isn’t all politics though. He gardens in his spare time and reads a lot of non-fiction. He is currently slogging his way through Vincent Bugliosi’s 1600 page magnum opus devoted to the Kennedy assassination. He is also a former little league coach who misses it greatly. “The funnest thing I’ve done in a long time is Little League. I still wish I had a team, but my youngest son is in law school now. He’s out grown Little League, damn it.” The Judge also enjoys getting away to Calgary, Canada to visit his older son, his wife Emily and his two half Canadian grandchildren who are warmly referred to as the Canukeyes.

And as if to cap it all off, the Judge has just recently married his long-time girlfriend Audry in Florida.

“You hear people talk about having a childhood dream. Well I’ve done it. I really have enjoyed a political career, a career in public service, now a career on the Bench. It’s like, wow, I have really been a very lucky guy.”

Michael Davisson, Toledo Legal News Staff Writer

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