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Published: Monday, 4/8/2013

COMMENTARY

The valuable stories of Toledoans, in their own words

BY TOM WALTON
BLADE COLUMNIST
Nichols Nichols
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Everybody has a story to tell. Three months ago, it was my privilege and pleasure to listen to legendary University of Toledo basketball coach Bob Nichols share his. Coach Nichols’ death March 30 reminded me how fortunate we were during our conversation that the cameras were rolling.

Shortly after my retirement in 2007, Clyde Scoles, director of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, asked whether I’d be interested in hosting a new library program called Sight and Sound. We’d sit down every so often with a prominent Toledoan and let him or her talk about a life well lived, while the library videotaped our interview for posterity.

The completed discs would go into the library’s vast collection. They would be available for checkout like any book or other material.

It was a marriage of mutual interests. For years, The Blade and the library system, one of the nation’s best, had partnered on literacy projects and other endeavors. The Sight and Sound video archives series was a natural.

Our guests are people you might call Toledo’s movers and shakers. I prefer another term: doers and givers.

Coach Nichols won 377 games at UT, was Mid-American Conference coach of the year three times, and developed hundreds of young men into solid citizens and leaders here and across the country.

Here are the other folks we’ve recorded so far:

Richard Anderson. If we’re talking about doers and givers, the chairman of The Andersons has to be on the list. Few among us have not been touched by the generosity and philanthropy of Mr. Anderson and his family. It’s a nice arrangement — we all buy what we need at their stores, and they share their time, talent, and treasure with the community.

Frank Gilhooley. I’m grateful that we captured that voice and all those stories before we lost him. The late sports broadcaster and announcer for the Toledo Mud Hens was one of the most genuinely kind individuals I’ve ever met. As a toddler, he once had Babe Ruth as a baby-sitter.

Marcy Kaptur. Maybe the closest thing to a sure bet on Capitol Hill, the veteran member of Congress is Washington’s Energizer Bunny. She just keeps going and going.

Crystal Ellis. The former superintendent of Toledo Public Schools was the first African-American to play basketball at Bowling Green State University. He was selected as one of BGSU’s 100 outstanding graduates.

Tom McGlauchlin. An artist of national renown and a pioneer in what came to be known as the studio glass movement. He passed away shortly after our interview.

Sandy Isenberg. A veteran public servant, her watch as a Lucas County commissioner included oversight of a project credited with giving new life to Toledo’s Warehouse District and downtown: Fifth Third Field.

Jamie Farr. A true Hollywood star and part of the M*A*S*H television phenomenon, he never forgot his hometown. His annual golf tournament has poured huge sums of money into local charities.

Sam Szor. Mr. Music in Toledo for more than half a century, the Music Under the Stars concert series at the Toledo Zoo made him a beloved maestro. In his 80s, he still occasionally wields the baton.

Carty Finkbeiner. Nobody ever loved being mayor of Toledo more than Carty. Resolutely demanding, occasionally controversial, and always passionate, he remains one of a kind.

Gordon Ward. A Toledo television pioneer as a newsman and anchor for many years. Though retired, his rich voice still announces the Music Under The Stars programs at the zoo.

Marie Vogt. The face and heart of ballet in Toledo, Madame Vogt taught dance to thousands of young Toledoans. Her Toledo Ballet’s Nutcracker remains a holiday tradition in its 73rd year, the longest running annual production of that show in the nation.

Baldemar Velasquez. As a young Blade labor reporter 40 years ago, I watched “Baldie” put himself in harm’s way to win bargaining rights for members of his fledgling Farm Labor Organizing Committee.

James Brennan. Daughter Christine Brennan, a former Blade colleague and now a USA Today columnist, painted a loving picture of her late father, who was Mr. Republican in a Democratic county.

George Tucker. Veteran leader of the Greater Northwest Ohio AFL-CIO, with an appreciation for both the early history of unions in Toledo and the more cooperative nature of the business-labor relationship today.

Andy Devine. Lucas County’s first juvenile court judge, he continues, in his early 90s, to champion strong families and effective parenting.

Most of the DVDs are in circulation; a few are still in post-production. Next up: Donna Owens, Toledo’s first female mayor.

What a treat it has been to spend so much time with these remarkable people. I commend their stories to you.

Thomas Walton is the retired editor and vice president of The Blade. His column appears every other Monday. His commentary, “Life As We Know It,” can be heard each Monday at 5:44 p.m. on WGTE-FM 91.

Contact him at: twalton@theblade.com



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