Harry Baals

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Harry Baals
Harry William Baals.jpg
Mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana
In office
Preceded byWilliam J. Hosey
Succeeded byHenry Branning
In office
Preceded byHenry Branning
Succeeded byRobert Meyers
Personal details
Harry William Baals

(1886-11-16)November 16, 1886
Fort Wayne, Indiana
DiedMay 9, 1954(1954-05-09) (aged 67)
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Political partyRepublican
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 Fort Wayne, Indiana, from 1932–1947 and from 1951 until his death in 1954. He had two children: Marceil D. Baals Smith and Donald Baals.


When Baals first took office, he consolidated city departments and lowered city tax rates. He launched construction of Fort Wayne's massive underground sewage system and built the city sewage treatment plant, which is 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 Fort Wayne 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 city 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."

Baals's descendants have 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". Archived from the original on May 8, 2012. Retrieved 2011-02-15.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  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". Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. Retrieved 2011-02-09.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  • "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