Edward Libbey’s Champion: The Glass City Aims to Memorialize its Glass Maker

. April 17, 2017.
Screen-Shot-2017-04-17-at-4.18.46-PM

Toledo has a problem that likely affects other cities around the world as well: it wants to memorialize its history and its leaders, but oftentimes no one wants to lead the charge. Spearheading an initiative takes a lot of work, and often requires parting a lot of people from a little bit of their money— and don’t forget all the forms and legal hoops a leader has to jump through to get the city on board. That’s why people like Sue Terrill are important. Her efforts (and those of her group) are gaining widespread recognition for Edward Libbey, founder of Libbey Glass, the company that largely earned Toledo its “Glass City” nickname.

It seems strange that this city has never had an Edward Libbey Day before April 17, 2017. Not only did Libbey bring jobs and prominence to this city, but he was a champion for local works and education, including founding the Toledo Museum of Art. He was also president of Toledo’s Board of Education, president of the Toledo City Plan Commission and a major benefactor of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. In short, much of Toledo’s best attributes came from the man who once made the glass.

Sue Terrill shows off an approximation of the plaque her group seeks to erect, memorializing Edward Libbey

Sue Terrill shows off an approximation of the plaque her group seeks to erect, memorializing Edward Libbey.

And yet, nobody had put in the legwork that Terrill and her fellow Edward Libby Day Group members have to gain him this day. But their work isn’t done yet. Currently, the group is raising $3000 to have a plaque erected on the grounds of Libbey High School (it was demolished in 2012). And they are meeting on May 10 to formulate plans to grow next year’s Edward Libbey Day.

“We always knew and respected Mr. Libbey, but we didn’t know anything about him,” Terrill, one of three members on the ELD board who actually attended Libbey Elementary School, said of the day. Terrill first became interested while doing research to help the campaign to save the school. But now that research has turned into a cause.

“It oftentimes takes a person or group to say we want to honor someone. And if you look at other Toledoans who have been honored, it’s a short list,” said Paul Walters, a history enthusiast and former teacher who showed up for the open house presentation held at the Main Branch Library.

Group member Sue Strasel holds a photo of her and Sue Terrill, pictured as children at Libbey Elementary School in the '60s. Strasel is pictured at top right, Terrill is bottom left.

Group member Sue Strasel holds a photo of her and Sue Terrill, pictured as children at a Libbey school in the ’60s. Strasel is pictured at top right, Terrill is bottom left.

“We are not family members of Mr. Libbey,” said Terrill. “But all of us are beneficiaries (of his legacy. We want people to see this is coming from the citizens who really do appreciate those gifts he has given.”

Hopefully Moses Fleetwood Walker and Art Tatum, other Toledo luminaries, find champions like Terrill and her group.

If you want to donate to the cause, join the group or just want more information, reach out to Terrill directly at bandore4u@gmail.com