How a spontaneous decision impacted my life in 1972

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany Photo Credit, Patrick Loftus

By Patrick Loftus

Back in the springtime of 1972, in a crowded auditorium at L‘Anse Creuse Junior High, a spontaneous decision was made to select German for my forthcoming high school career. I had no idea how this would impact my life in very positive ways.

Mr. Ron (Herr) Lelko was an inspiring, fun, demanding figure. He inspired us to learn grammar components through speaking, writing and listening comprehension. We learned extensively about German culture. I grew to love German baroque and classical music of Bach, Beethoven, and many others. My love for soccer emerged. West Germany‘s conquest of the 1994 World Cup was exciting. Herr Lelko encouraged us to take four years of the language as he worked diligently with school schedulers to make it work around our schedules.


After graduation I really had no clear future professional ambition. Until one day I saw in the Detroit News Travel Section an ad, “Spend Christmas in Germany $299.00.” I saved my money and booked the flight. I flew into Frankfurt in December of 1976. Once I exchanged my money I made a call to friend, Peter Kunc from Wachtberg-Niederbachem and bought train ticket, an hour after I got on the train, only then did I realize I was going in the wrong direction, and so the story began.

If I had not made that decision long ago I would have never become a German teacher, nor a person who was fortunate enough to travel five times to Europe and become the soccer enthusiast I am today. Now, as I plan my upcoming 30th Wedding Anniversary trip to view the sites in Germany once again – to attend a Bundesliga FC Köln match, and visit friends and former German exchange students, I reflect back on those decisions we make in our life that change the course forever.

Auf Wiederseh‘n!


Patrick J. Loftus, a native from Mount Clemens and a 1976 graduate of L‘Anse Creuse High School, has lived in Port Huron since his marriage to Nancy in 1988. He graduated from Western Michigan University and earned teaching certification in 1984 in German and History. His profession took him to Carlyle, Illinois and East Detroit. Besides instruction, he coached soccer, tennis, Quiz Bowl, German Quiz Bowl, and Debate. Patrick had an enthusiastic German Club and took students to Germany in 1985, one of five trips he made mostly to German speaking lands. Mr. Loftus closely follows state and national politics. In his spare time, he follows and watches sports. He follows FC Köln and looks forward to his 30th Wedding Anniversary in April of 2018 to Cologne, Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Patrick places international exchange students at CETUSA (non-profit) in St. Clair, Macomb, Sanilac and Lapeer Counties as a Local Coordinator.

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