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Cincinnati Museum Center mourns loss of William Mallory, Sr

Protector of Union Terminal believed in Museum Center’s role in building a better Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – The city of Cincinnati has lost one of its strongest advocates for education, equality and public service. William Mallory, Sr. was instrumental in creating the Cincinnati we know today, helping draft legislation to fund Riverfront Stadium and Fountain Square and serving as a co-chairman on the committee that created what is now the Metro. His lawsuit charging discrimination in the election of county judges resulted in the establishment of 14 judicial districts, leveling the field for African-American candidates. He instilled the importance of public service on his six children, five of whom serve in local government on some level, including former mayor Mark Mallory.
His public service spanned nearly seven decades, beginning in high school and growing to include tenures on the West End Community Council, Ohio Elections Commission, and 28 years in the Ohio House of Representatives. Perhaps most importantly, he helped save Union Terminal and pave the way for its transformation into an educational and cultural icon of Cincinnati.
To young William Mallory, Sr., Union Terminal was a saving grace, its cool marble providing welcome relief in summer months and its policy for equal opportunity employment providing financial opportunity to a black man growing up in the 1930s and 40s. “Here I would shine the shoes of the travelers and hear stories about worlds beyond,” said Mallory. But to Union Terminal and Cincinnati Museum Center, Mallory would be a saving grace.
“In 1986 I brought a State of Ohio check for $8 million to Cincinnati to secure the future of the vacant Union Terminal as Cincinnati Museum Center,” Mallory reflected in 2009. “I often reflect on a shoe shine boy becoming the delivery man for $8 million!”
Mallory marveled at the odd juxtaposition of being a shoe shine who grew up to save the building that gave him employment opportunities when few others offered employment to African-Americans. “Maybe it’s fitting,” says Douglass W. McDonald, President and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Thanks to Mr. Mallory, Union Terminal continues to give people of all backgrounds opportunities. Opportunities for employment, education and inspiration.”
Mr. Mallory recognized what Union Terminal already was for so many in Cincinnati and how much more it could do for the city. “As I have been a part of the transformation of this most important center for our community,” the former shoe shine said, “it has been transformed from a center of commerce and transportation into a center of learning and humanity.”
Cincinnati Museum Center strives to honor Mallory’s vision. “Thanks to his dedication to this building,” says McDonald, “we have been able to be that center of learning and humanity that Mallory inspired us to be.”
As his beloved Union Terminal still stands as an icon of what Cincinnati was and what it can help us become, so, too, does Mr. Mallory’s legacy still stand as a model of dedicated public service and community involvement. Cincinnati Museum Center thanks William Mallory, Sr. for his generous and passionate support of Union Terminal and Cincinnati Museum Center and for building a better Cincinnati for those before us and those to come.
Many of William Mallory, Sr.’s legislative papers are housed in the Cincinnati History Library and Archives and may be accessed at the library at Union Terminal or digitally.

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