Colonel Charles Connor Jr. Inducted 2002 - Class of 1947
Charles Connor's drive and determination led him to experience two careers, civilian and military. He once "shared the stage" with former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and retired U. S. Senator Bob Dole. This is hardly what you’d expect from one who describes himself as a high school student who required A LOT of patience.
Chuck was raised by his mother and grandmother. From birth to age 19, he lived at various addresses on Moore, Elm, and Page Streets. "It was an ethnic neighborhood comprised of many nationalities...Greek, Jewish, Polish, German and African". Chuck graduated from Sherman Elementary School. At age 13, he delivered milk by horse and wagon. At 14, he sold Toledo Blade newspapers at the corner of Huron and Adams Street. Following that, he ushered at the Paramount Theater for two years.
At Woodward, Chuck considered all his classmates to be his friends. He was closest to Bill Valade,
Merle Davis, and Robert Blazey. Chuck was a member of the Woodward band and played drums, trumpet, and timpani drums in the AlI-City Concert Band. His favorite teachers were Edgar Sorton, music teacher and band director, and Lee Rynder, who was the radio-electrical teacher. Chuck credits Mr. Sorton with teaching him many areas of music, including instruments. "Both teachers were very patient and understanding. I am grateful to all my teachers at Sherman and Woodward for an education that provided the basics for my accomplishments."
Chuck has many happy memories of his time at Woodward, including running the movie projector during lunch in the school auditorium, and the rallies in downtown Toledo following football games. He recalls a humorous incident, which occurred during his senior year. "I traded my bicycle for my first car, a 1930 Chevrolet that did not run. It received lots of pushing by friends. I finally fixed it and drove my mother and grandmother to Detroit. We made it back, after experiencing a flat tire and losing a muffler." What did Chuck's mother and grandmother have to say about this adventure? "Never Again!"
Chuck graduated from WHS in 3 1/2 years, in January 1947. Due to financial conditions, he was unable to pursue further formal education, so Charles "got busy." At age 17, he began a long career working for the Toledo Blade. He started as an office boy, was promoted to a messenger for the Advertising Department, then to Senior Clerk.
Chuck's civilian and military careers have "overlapped" several times. He was a member of the Ohio National Guard from 1947-1950 and achieved the rank of Sergeant First Class. From 1951-1953, he was on active duty with the U. S. Army. After basic training, Chuck attended Army Infantry Officer Candidate School. As a Second Lieutenant, he served in the Fifth Infantry Division in Pennsylvania as Assistant Provost Marshal and as an Infantry Tactics Instructor. In 1954, Chuck returned home to continue both his careers. He resumed work at The Blade, serving as a Classified Advertising Salesman; Automotive Advertising Coordinator; and Assistant Classified Manager. In 1972, Chuck was promoted to Manager of Advertising Services, the department responsible for the makeup of the newspaper and the processing and delivery of advertising materials.
While working at The Blade, Chuck continued service in the Ohio National Guard as a First Lieutenant with the 37th Infantry Division Company, as Executive Officer of D Company, 148th Infantry, then as Staff Officer for the 1st Battalion, 37th Infantry Division. The 37th became a number with which Chuck became closely associated. He became the Company Commander for the 37th Military Police Company, and later the 37th Infantry Division Assistant Provost Marshal, which led to the position of Provost Marshal for the Emergency Operations Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. He then served as an S-3 Staff Officer for the same command. Continuing his association with the number 37, Chuck was promoted to Commander of the 437th Military Police Battalion, with companies in Cleveland, Youngstown, and Warren, Ohio. Later, he became the Commander of the 137th Supply and Service Battalion, with companies in five Ohio cities; then the Commander of the 371st Support Group, with companies in nineteen Ohio cities. During his military career, Chuck also served as temporary Commander of the 46thSupport Group, 18th Airborne Corps, in the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Chuck retired from the military as a Colonel in March, 1983. He retired from The Blade in December, 1991, after 44 years of service.
Chuck and his units have responded to various Ohio National Guard emergencies, such as the Palm Sunday Tornado, racial unrest, riots in the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus, the trucker's strike in Ravenna, Ohio, and the blizzard of '78.For his long service in the military, Chuck has earned a number of awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit, Army Commendation Medal, Ohio Award of Merit, Ohio Special Service Medal, and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal. One of his proudest accomplishments was his promotion to full Colonel, achieved without the benefit of a college education. This military grade may be the highest ever achieved by a Woodward graduate.
Chuck is a lifetime member of The Old Newsboys Organization, the Reserve Officers Association, and the Association of U.S. Army and Retired Officers. In his civilian life, he was the first President of the American Newspaper Layout Managers Association, an organization of executives of advertising service departments at U.S. and Canadian newspapers. He currently is President of the Washington Township Zoning Board of Appeals.
Chuck's wife Charlotte has been "my best friend, who supported me through my careers, and survived all my projects throughout our marriage". Charlotte also retired from The Toledo Blade, after 36 years of service. Charlotte and Chuck have four children: Deirdre, Gregg, Jeff, Wendy, and five grandchildren. Since retirement, they have traveled extensively, in the United States, Puerto Rico, Europe, North Africa, South America, and the Far East. "Since I am a military retiree, we have the privilege of flying with the U.S. Air Force." Chuck also enjoys diving, deep-sea fishing, and restoring automobiles. He has restored a '53 Packard Caribbean Convertible, '64 Thunderbird Convertible Roadster, Jaguar V-12 Convertible, '54 Packard Sedan, '40 Ford Sedan, and a 1951 Military Jeep (Hooray Toledo!). Chuck still owns the Thunderbird.
"My feelings on being inducted into the WHS Hall of Fame are hard to describe. It is one of the greatest honors I have received. To be honored by the Woodward Hall of Fame Association is the ultimate recognition for my accomplishments in life."
36 years in the military.
44 years with The Blade.
Tonight we CELEBRATE and SALUTE Chuck Connors' service to both our country and to our community.