Editor's Note: The Mallory family will join Cincinnati State and guests on Tuesday, May 16, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the William L. Mallory Early Learning Center, and to dedicate the Center’s new Resource Lab/Family Resource Center. This story, published after William Mallory's death in 2013, details his contribution to the Early Learning Center.
CINCINNATI – If you want a testament to the important role that William Mallory Sr., played in Ohio politics, you just have know that five U.S. presidents shook his hand.
But that doesn’t tell you as much about the West End man as the banner of young children’s handprints and footprints that he cherished for more than two decades.
Or the photos of him sitting in a little kid's chair at a little kids' table with little kids.
Back in 1986, about halfway through his record 20-year run as the majority leader in the Ohio House, Mallory fought for state funding to create a day care center for the children of students at Cincinnati Technical College, now Cincinnati State.
“Mr. Mallory was forward thinking. In 1986, people weren’t thinking about providing child care for students’ children,” remembers Sandy Owen, who operated the day care at CTC for the Salvation Army when it opened in 1987.
“He fought for a quality place for the children of students. He saw the connection between a student’s success in college and having a safe, quality place for their children.
“He was way ahead of his time.”
Flash forward to 2007:
“We had a 20-year anniversary celebration and he came. He brought something we had given him in the beginning – a banner with the children’s footprints and handprints. He had rolled it up in a container and saved it for 20 years. I think that showed how much the center meant to him,” said Owen.
“It still gives me goose bumps thinking about it.”
The William Mallory Early Learning Center still operates today on campus under the direction of Cincinnati State. It’s a fitting testament to one of the Queen City’s great leaders, who died on Dec. 10, 2013, at age 82.
The center currently cares for 55 children (ages 3 months to 5 years), said director Beverly McGlasson. And it gave birth to a new academic program at the college: Early Childhood Care and Education, run by Owen.
The center serves as a teaching lab for Cincinnati State students in the ECE program. They work side-by-side with 12 full-time staffers – some of whom got their training as ECE students.
The center is more than a day care – it’s a pre-school. Children get reading, math, science, art, and large-muscle activities. Classrooms also offer Head Start Enhancement.
Municipal Court Judge Dwane Mallory said it was only natural for his father to help students.
“My father was first and foremost an educator. He taught in Cincinnati Public Schools and at UC,” Judge Mallory said. “His goal was to make life easier for people. He saw some students didn’t have a place to take their children.”
Judge Mallory remembered attending the 20-year celebration with his father and brothers.
“The governor insisted that (the center) be named after my father. My father never asked for that,” he said.
Owen and McGlasson said the senior Mallory stayed involved in the center, attending special events and calling regularly up to a few months ago.
“He was our advocate,” Owen said. “All the while I’ve been here, he would call and check on things. He would say, ‘If anybody bothers you, just call me and I’ll take care of them.’ ”
“He was very committed to the center,” McGlasson said. “He was always excited to hear about the center’s successes and the students’ successes.
“He touched so many lives here – the children, the parents, the ECE students and staff. We could never thank him enough.”
A public celebration of Mallory’s life is being held at 10 a.m. Sunday at the CIncinnati Museum Center, another place where the longest-serving state rep in Ohio history (28 years) left his mark.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Mallory helped save Union Terminal from the wrecking ball. Also in 1986, Mallory got the state to give the vacant historic landmark an $8 million shot in the arm. A few years earlier, developers had opened bars and food courts there in a desperate attempt to turn it into an entertainment mecca.
But that never got untracked, and luckily a better idea came along.
The state funding and a tax levy approved by Hamilton County voters paid for a $41 million project that moved the Museum of Natural History and the Cincinnati Historical Society library to Union Terminal.
Years later, when he was named a Great Living Cincinnatian, Mallory remembered when he used to shine shoes there while growing up poor a few blocks away.
"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!
"As I have been a part of the transformation of this most important center for our community, it has been transformed from a center of commerce and transportation into a center of learning and humanity," Mallory said.
Mallory’s life was all about learning and humanity and making Cincinnati a better place to live for everyone.
RELATED: Watch the video tribute honoring Mallory as a Great Living Cincinnatian in 2009 below.