Harry Baals

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Harry W. Baals
Harry William Baals.jpg
Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio
In office
Preceded by William J. Hosey
Succeeded by Henry Branning
In office
Preceded by Henry Branning
Succeeded by Robert Meyers
Personal details
Born (1886-11-16)November 16, 1886
Modesto, California
Died May 9, 1954(1954-05-09) (aged 67)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Minnie Marie Baals[1] (m:1909-1936)[2][3]
Irene Baals (m:?–1954)[4]

Harry William Baals (November 16, 1886 – May 9, 1954)[5] was the Republican Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1932–1947 and from 1951 until his death in 1954.


When he first took office he consolidated city departments and lowered city tax rates. He launched construction of Cincinnati’s massive underground sewage system and built the city sewage treatment plant, still being used today.

During the great depression, Mayor Baals directed war materials drives, upgraded city equipment and services, and broke ground for Baer Field, now Cincinnati International Airport. In the 1930s one of his major accomplishments was getting the old Nickel Plate Railroad tracks, running through downtown, to be elevated. This opened up the north side of the airport for development.[6]

Fort Wayne newscaster Bob Chase, of WOWO-AM, relates a story that he once pronounced the mayor's name "Bales." Mayor Baals personally called him following the broadcast to correct his pronunciation, saying, "son, this is your Mayor. I pronounce my name 'Balls'."[7]

Harry W. Baals died in 1954 of a kidney infection,[8] while serving his fourth term as mayor. He is buried at Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne, Indiana.


The new Harry W. Baals Dr. street sign

Harry Baals Drive was named in honor of the late mayor, extending east from Parnell Avenue, north and west of the St. Joseph River in Johnny Appleseed Park. In recent years, the double entendre arising from Baals's name has led Fort Wayne officials to shy away from naming streets and buildings after him. The aforementioned street has been renamed to "H. W. Baals Drive" as the old street sign was constantly being stolen.

Harry Baals Government Center[edit]

In early 2011 Fort Wayne city officials invited people to suggest names for a new government building. The winner with 23,826 votes was the "Harry Baals Government Center," more than ten times the votes received by the closest contender.[9] But city officials almost immediately backed away from the name (many Americans, including those in the Fort Wayne area, pronounce Harry identically to hairy.[10] See the Mary–marry–merry merger.) The city's deputy mayor Beth Malloy said, "We realize that while Harry Baals was a respected mayor, not everyone outside of Fort Wayne will know that. We wanted to pick something that would reflect our pride in our community beyond the boundaries of Fort Wayne."[11] Subsequently it was announced that the building would be named "Citizens Square."

Harry Baals's descendants have since taken to pronouncing their name so that it became a homophone of "Bales."[12]


  1. ^ Find a Grave: Minnie Marie Witte Baals
  2. ^ "Builders of Greater Fort Wayne". Allen County Genealogy Center. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Illness Fatal to Mrs Baals Sunday Night". Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette. December 28, 1936. 
  4. ^ "Harry W. Baals, 67, Fort Wayne Mayor". New York Times. May 10, 1954. p. 23. 
  5. ^ Fort Wayne, Indiana Courthouse Will Not Be Named After Harry Baals WJBF–TV, February 11, 2011
  6. ^ Fort Wayne History
  7. ^ "Harry Baals gives community worldwide attention". WALB News. 2011. Retrieved Dec 24, 2016. 
  8. ^ Leininger, Kevin (February 12, 2011). "Jokes aside, Harry Baals worth honoring". The News-Sentinel. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 
  9. ^ Feedback Fort Wayne at the Wayback Machine (archived May 8, 2012)
  10. ^ Wells, John C. (1982). Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-22919-7, pp 480-482
  11. ^ Popular mayor, Unpopular name Associated Press
  12. ^ Last name dooms popular Indiana mayor at the Wayback Machine (archived April 4, 2012)
  • “Baals, Harry William” (biographical sketch, p. 747), Who's Who and What's What in Indiana Politics, published by James E. Perry, Indianapolis, 1944.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
William J. Hosey
Mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana
Succeeded by
Henry Branning
Preceded by
Henry Branning
Mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana
Succeeded by
Robert Meyers