Tom Gonsiewski


Class of 1964

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Graduating in January of 1964, many of my teachers and coaches (Coaches Odie Surrick & Al Angelo and Chemistry Teacher Mike Lewchuk and English Teacher Martin Rugg) helped shaped me into the man I am today.  I played on  baseball and football; was a member of the Thirteen Club and President of the Class of January 1964.

I got a good education.  I was taught the importance of being a team player.  Hard work and taking responsibility for your actions was always emphasized at Frankford.


What was it like being a teen in the 1960s?  I would think everyone would answer this the same way no matter when you “came of age”.  The freedom to make decisions on your own and the friendships that were formed (and many still exist today) had a huge impact on who I am today.

President Kennedy was assassinated in my senior year.  While I don't think he was a hero image to this day, I remember where I was and what I did that day.  


I applied to work in the Philadelphia School System, with the hope of getting back to Frankford.  When I was interviewed, there were no openings at Frankford, so I was recruited to teach and coach at North Catholic. 


Over the 4th of July holiday, my former chemistry teacher at Frankford, Mike Lewchuk, passed away and an opening at Frankford became available. 

Martin Rugg, my English Teacher, was the acting principal that summer when Mike Lewchuk passed and knew I was on the Science Teachers list.  He called the School District and requested that I be assigned to Frankford. 

Once again, I happened to be in the right place at the right time.  When I started teaching, the school store had been closed for several years.  Students asked me to advocate for re-opening it. 

Mr. Killough, the principal, said, "no one wanted to run it.  But, if I took on that responsibility, we could open it."  I got student volunteers to take their lunch period in the store, and it turned out to be a success in promoting school spirit and providing a service for the school.


While at Frankford, a jacket manufacturer asked me to sell jackets to parents whose kids were in the same schools as my kids.  The Council Rock school district did not have a school store, and school jackets were the “hot” Christmas present. 

I was able to sell enough to pique my interest. 


From there, people began asking if I could get printed garments.  I started printing shirts in my basement--and the company just grew from there.  Kampus Klothes is a  family-owned and operated business.  Today, we employ over 65 full time and part time employees.  (Which includes my wife, four of our children, two sisters, a nephew, and seven grandchildren)



The biggest challenge was finding all the time to do everything.  As the company continued to sell products, we were able to find people who could take over some of the tasks which allowed more time to concentrate on “growing the business”.  We have been very fortunate in finding good people who have a good work ethic and are interested in providing great customer service.


 We have a wide range of customers (on the college level we do work for Temple, Rutgers, Villanova, LaSalle, Drexel, The Naval Academy and several small colleges.  We do many area high schools and Youth Organizations.  And on the corporate side, we do work for some fairly large businesses like (Toll Brother Builders and Burpee Seed).  We have great employees.

In 1984, we were a Mom and Pop Shop.-- A pretty small operation compared to today.  How has it grown?  We’ve invested in technology and equipment so we can produce products based on when our customer needs them.  We specialize in a quick turnover time to meet the needs of this event driven world.



 I loved the end of the year the best.  I taught mostly seniors, so it was good to see those who worked hard get rewarded at graduation time with awards and recognition.  Some of the friendships still continue 40 (and more) years later. 



Invest in technology and good people.  Take responsibility for your actions … good and bad.  Learn from your mistakes (because you will certainly make a lot of them).


I have a few of my favorite quotes posted on the walls of my office, but the one I like the most is a paraphrased one from Mark Twain.  While this is not the actual quote, I believe it goes to the heart of what he meant: 


“When I was 18, I never realized my father could live so long and be so dumb.  But when I turned 21, I was amazed at how much the old man learned in 3 years." 


I tried to use that to emphasize that none of us

have all the answers.