Joel Andryc '75
Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Joel Andryc, ’75, is a person who has definitely had the courage to do just that. It has been quite a journey for Joel from his involvement in the SFS musicals, to one of the executive producers of 2017 Saban’s Power Rangers feature film.
As a young boy, among other things, Joel enjoyed making home movies on his 8mm camera, going to the movies and watching The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights. As a student at St. Francis, he was a member of the swim team for a couple years, a member of both the newspaper, The Lance, as well as the yearbook, The Accolade and also participated in intramurals. While he enjoyed all of those activities, his favorite ones as a student were being a part of WSFK, the musicals and checking out the latest movies with a group of friends which included Fr. Olszewski and Fr. Healy at the old Showcase Cinemas on Secor Rd. Joel fondly remembers quite a few teachers too. A few that had a profound influence on him as a student and throughout his life were three teachers; Fr. Fisher, Mr. Gene Antoszewski and Mr. Bob Stucker. Joel also gives Bob Stucker credit for helping him to develop his passion for drama and the camera. Joel said, “How fortunate we were to have WSFK at St. Francis; we were the only school in the Toledo area to have anything like it!”
After graduating from SFS, Joel attended Marquette University where he pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Communications and a minor in Business. While a student at Marquette, he continued his passion by promoting concerts on campus and working summer jobs at WTMJ TV in Milwaukee and as a stage manager at Alpine Valley Music Theatre just outside of Chicago. Joel credits both Marquette University and St. Francis for their stellar Liberal Arts educations, the numerous extra-curricular opportunities they made available as well as the moral compass they instilled in him. The philosophy to respect all people as equals is one that he has carried with him throughout his professional life.
In 1979, the day after graduation, Joel called his parents to say he was moving to Hollywood. It was finally time to pursue his lifelong dream. A career in the movies or television was so captivating, that off to California, he went!
When Joel arrived in Hollywood, he admits he had no idea where his career would end up. However, Joel stayed focused on his dream and worked diligently at a variety of incredible jobs. From the Contestant Coordinator for Chuck Barris Productions which produced such shows as The Dating Game and The Gong Show, to securing top Hollywood talents like John Candy, Alicia Silverstone, Pink, and Fergie for various TV shows, to being named the Executive Vice President of Programming for Fox/ABC Family Channel (now called Freeform), Joel has met a myriad of people and has held many exciting positions over his vast 40-year career in the TV business. He currently serves as a Managing Director at Saban Capital Group, which is an investor in Univision, the #1 Spanish language network in America.
Through it all, Joel has never abandoned his roots. He has helped mentor students from both Marquette and St. Francis who are strongly considering the idea of pursuing a career in the Los Angeles entertainment industry. He’s also been extremely generous in his financial support to St. Francis as a way of giving back to a school that gave him so much. This generosity is exemplified by one of his favorite quotes which goes back to his days at St. Francis when he was involved in the production of Hello Dolly: “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”
Joel currently lives in Playa Vista with his wife, Nancy. They have two grown children and recently became grandparents for the first time to a wonderful grandson. Joel is certainly a Knight who has had the courage to pursue his dream and make it his reality!
Mike Johnston '66
Mike Johnston ’66 got a lot of practice working on athletic maneuvers as a member of the SFS track, cross country, and wrestling teams 50 years ago. But those moves cannot compare to those he has learned to make as a skydiver. Mike is the General Manager of Skydive DeLand in DeLand, Florida, one of the busiest skydive centers in the world.
Johnston was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army, and stayed involved in jumping after his time at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He started out at Skydive DeLand as an instructor, then a parachute rigger, and eventually worked as a developer of equipment and safety moves. He holds several world records in the sport, and is especially proud of his involvement with the World Team, the international team of highly skilled skydive athletes, professional camera flyers, skilled pilots, and support personnel from more than 25 countries.
He explains, “In 1994, we put together the largest freewill formation that covered two miles across when it was all opened up over a U.S. military base in Thailand. I was the leader of the American segment of the formation, and I can recall that the language differences were quite a challenge at the beginning of the project. Over the two years it took to put this project together, we saw more interchange with those involved and by the end, everyone was communicating in English.”
Johnston credits St. Francis with helping him develop the study habits and the focus skills he needed to be part of the sport.. “We broke the longest standing school record for the mile relay, and that success gave me the drive to excel that still motivates me. I am retired, but I still enjoy the outdoor sports that Florida has to offer—skiing, boating, and scuba diving, and I still love to sky dive. In fact, it is a really popular sport—even for people in their 80’s, many of whom want to do it because it’s on their ‘bucket list.’ We make it safe and accessible and fun for them.”
Ralph Zychowicz ‘66
Even at a young age Ralph had been a large part of the Toledo community. He began his journey by working in his family’s well-known grocery and meat market. He attended St. Catherine’s grade school, where he was recognized for his achievements as a recipient of the Scholar-Athlete award.
He then attended SFS from ’62-’66 where he continued his academic and athletic excellence by working hard in school and participating in the football and wrestling programs all four years. He graduated 11th in his class of 127 and was a member of the 1965 first city all championship football team.
Shortly after graduation his leadership and excellence led him to be appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he continued to thrive. As a graduate of the class of 1970 he served five years with tours in Washington D.C. and Korea.
After his service in the military he chose to come back to Toledo to get his Law degree at the University of Toledo. For the next 30 years he served as an assistant Lucas County Prosecutor primarily in the civil division where he represented many local government entities in a wide array of development projects.
During this time, he became committee member of the Downtown Community Board and led the proposal for the building of Fifth Third Field and the Huntington Center. During his time as a board member he continued to serve in the Army Reserve. He served as a local West Point Liaison officer and did summer tours of duty at the pentagon. He retired in 1997 as a lieutenant colonel.
Currently he has been working to have the best 50th reunion possible. In his words “it will be a memorable event!”
Ralph has been who he is, and he has been it well.
We thank you for all your service and community involvement!