When a committee of African-American leaders in Toledo, including me, proposed that Toledo Express Airport be named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the idea received little or no support. Although Danny Thomas was a great comedian, which catapulted him into fame and made him a wealthy man, and made it possible for him to build St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, nobody believes that he rises to the level of greatness that Rev. King knew.
We are not suggesting that the airport should not be named for Danny Thomas. We are simply wondering why no such support came when renaming the airport for Martin Luther King, Jr., was proposed. After all, he and the civil rights movement that he led changed the course of American history and reordered the priorities of a whole nation.
As a former member of the board of directors of the Toledo-Lucas Port Authority and once chairman of the airport committee, I read with great interest about City Council President Rob Ludeman's intention to ask City Council to change the name of Toledo Express Airport to The "Danny Thomas Airport."
While Mr. Thomas may have been a great humanitarian for establishing St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for cancer research, I know from firsthand experience that before City Council votes on the name change it may want to consider the following:
Mr. Thomas decided to locate his hospital in Memphis, not Toledo, providing thousands of very good-paying jobs in the hospital, but also thousands of jobs in the building trades, which provided untold millions of dollars over the years to the Memphis economy. Think of all the tax dollars and good-paying jobs lost to our area over the years. If City Council intends to change the name of the airport, why not change the name to a far more deserving person from Toledo, Jamie Farr. Jamie, since the inception of his golf tournament, has not only brought worldwide fame to Toledo, but also provided millions of dollars to local charities. He also returns to Toledo many times during the year to help boost Toledo for many worthy causes.
If you watched M*A*S*H, the hit TV show, not only did he mention Toledo many times, but also wore a Toledo Mud Hens jersey. Mr. Thomas and Jamie both deserve public recognition, but in my opinion, if the name of the airport is changed, Jamie Farr deserves the honor more, Farr and away!
With due respect to City Council President Rob Ludeman and the memory of Danny Thomas, I dissent from the proposition that Toledo Express Airport be renamed in honor of the great entertainer and humanitarian who more than any other person is responsible for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
Significant as this is, I can think of many Toledoans who have supported our city by digging deep into their personal fortunes as well as by giving their personal leadership to civic endeavors of one kind and another. My memory is devoid of anything similar that Mr. Thomas has done for his hometown.
Let Oklahoma City and Orange County, California, honor Will Rogers and John Wayne by their airports. That's their business, although it's my opinion that both of them are probably a notch or two in national recognition above our beloved Toledoan. Will Rogers' statue stands in the nation's capital and Big John's films are watched over and over again on television, DVD, and video rentals.
Somehow "Danny Thomas Express Airport" doesn't resonate alongside LaGuardia (mayor of New York), Kennedy (our president), or O'Hare (who gave his life in the first days of World War II).
Anyway, who in his right mind would want to foreclose the possibility of some day naming our airport after Carty?
EDWARD F. WEBER
Kudos for the super article on naming Toledo Express Airport for Danny Thomas. What a wonderful tribute and honor it would be to recognize this great humanitarian whose love of Toledo never seemed to waver.
His dedication to St. Jude Hospital and the sick children suffering from leukemia should inspire us to keep alive his promise to the patron saint of lost causes.