(Plain Press, November 2020) Ohio City resident Ted Thelander died at age 85 on June 11th of this year. Ted Thelander was instrumental in offering advice, sharing his expertise, and mentoring Near West Side residents in many battles with political corruption and troubling nightclubs. Thelander also became involved in addressing a number of safety issues in his Ohio City neighborhood. While Thelander preferred to remain behind the scenes, his knowledge of fire code, liquor laws, occupancy permits and various rules governing zoning proved invaluable as residents with few resources opposed well healed business owners at hearing before such bodies as the Board of Building Standards, Board of Zoning Appeals, and Landmarks Commission.
One resident, who Thelander influenced and mentored, is Tremont community activist Henry Senyak. Recalling when he first met Thelander, Senyak said, “I was just a mild-mannered citizen at the time.” Thelander called the Plain Press after seeing a 2004 letter to the editor from Senyak that expressed his frustration with unruly behavior emanating from the Starkweather, a bar near his home. Thelander asked that his contact information be shared with Senyak, in hopes Senyak would contact him so he could help out.
Thelander, who spent many years traveling around the country as a consultant in the restaurant and hospitality industry, was well versed in the regulations needed to open and operate a business. He shared this knowledge with residents and many of the stories that made their way into the pages of the Plain Press over the years resulted from residents that used his advice to take on nuisance businesses. Thelander also had a nose for sniffing out politicians who had ethical lapses and were engaged in questionable allocations of funds or unethical relationships with area nonprofits and businesses.
According to Ted’s sister, Carolyn, throughout his life “Ted fought against absolutely anything he came across that wasn’t right.” Many residents, who Ted helped out in their struggles in the neighborhood, can attest to this.
Thelander lived in a house on Bridge Avenue in Ohio City which he restored over 50 years ago. He was involved in rescuing animals and was often seen walking his rescue dogs in the neighborhood.
Thelander led an interesting life. In addition to his involvement in the hospitality industry Ted served as an Air Force pilot, was a baseball pitcher who once pitched a no hitter for Cornell, pitched in the summer leagues, and umpired baseball games – including five in the Major Leagues.
Ted is survived by his daughter Dana Christine Thelander and son Mark Stirling Thelander and their children – all of Omaha, Nebraska, and his sister Carolyn Thelander Gittelson of Short Hills, New Jersey and her children and grandchildren.