While Gerry Gdowski Sr. has accomplished a great deal throughout his life, he will tell you what he is most proud of is his children’s accomplishments and overall success.
His eldest, Gerry Jr., is currently a quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt University; and is a former Nebraska Cornhusker quarterback who was named the Big 8 Player of The Year in 1989.
One of his daughters, Linda, is a middle school instructor in Elkhorn and serves as a head track coach for Elkhorn High School; another daughter, Jennifer, is a physician’s assistant; his son, Mark, is a doctor in St. Louis and his youngest, Gessica, is attending the University of Nebraska at Omaha studying physical therapy on a volleyball scholarship.
A lot of success there, no doubt. But the common denominator, and something Gdowski takes great pride in, is that all five of his children are products of the Fremont Public Schools system. And they all graduated with 4.0 GPAs.
“A lot of the reason we love giving back is because all five of our kids received such a terrific education at Fremont and all of them are doing so well,” Gdowski said during a Thursday interview with the Tribune. “We had some great teachers when I was working there, and all of my kids got to take advantage of that, too.”
On Friday, Feb. 2, Gdowski and his wife, Rhonda, are being presented the first-ever Gerry Gdowski Community Service Award, which from here forward will be presented to a person or persons who exemplify what it means to give back to the FPS District.
The award will be presented in-between the Fremont High School girls’ and boys’ basketball games, which are being played at 6:15 and 7:45 p.m., respectively, against Lincoln High. Following the award and games, a celebration – open to the public – is being held from 9 p.m. through midnight at J’s Steakhouse and Winebar.
“Both Gerry and Rhonda had great careers with the Fremont Public Schools System, and we were looking for a way to recognize and honor the efforts of Rhonda and Gerry throughout the years,” Superintendent Mark Shepard said. “In particular for the efforts that were put in regarding the track project, as well as for other efforts. We thought that there were no better inaugural members (for this award) than the Gdowskis.”
Gerry Gdowski came to Fremont in 1979 and served as the head football coach and in his early years, a business law and personal finance instructor. He retired from coaching in 1989 and eventually took over as assistant principal and activities director at FHS before retiring in 2001.
Rhonda Gdowski served the FPS District in several capacities for the better part of two decades, Gerry said. She served as principal of Lincoln Elementary and Davenport Elementary prior to their closure, and also helped with aspects of getting Bell Field Elementary ready to open in the early 2000s. She served as Bell Field principal until 2008 when she accepted the administrative district role of director of student services.
The Gdowskis’ generosity through volunteer work certainly doesn’t go unnoticed in a time when without volunteers, a lot of great things wouldn’t be accomplished throughout the district, Shepard said.
“The bottom line is that without these types of volunteer efforts we wouldn’t be able to provide some of the opportunities that we have for our students,” Shepard said. “Especially when you look at the auditorium project, the track project and the Bahe Gym project.”
Gdowski said that he and Rhonda are honored to be recipients of the award, but that they are just a small cog in the machine of volunteers that have helped numerous district projects flourish in recent years.
“We are certainly humbled by this, but I want people to realize that what the entire community is doing is huge,” he said. “It’s the parents, and the businesses, and the booster club and even the kids are helping out, which is so nice to see,” he said. “Without all the caring people we have and the cooperation we see you just can’t get these kinds of things done.”