Guerdon Holden - Secretary-Treasurer of "The Plain Dealer"

8907 Lake Shore Boulevard and 10316 Brighton Road
Guerdon Stearns Holden
Guerdon Stearns Holden

Guerdon Stearns Holden was born December 9, 1881, the youngest of the seven children of Liberty and Delia Holden. He attended University School and Worcester Academy in Massachusetts and later graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1904.

While at Harvard, Guerdon became interested in Egyptology. He traveled widely and wanted to pursue further study abroad and likely would have been a brilliant researcher or professor, but his father insisted that he become a lawyer. He unwillingly attended law school and passed the Ohio bar exam, but never practiced law.

Guerdon married Elinor Chase on June 3, 1911, in Springfield, Illinois. There were no children. Elinor died on January 31, 1938, and buried in Lake View Cemetery. He later married Anne M. DeWolff.

The Plain Dealer provided Guerdon with an office and given the title of secretary-treasurer. His corporate duties were routine, yet he faithfully attended board meetings and did what the decision-makers decreed. He freely expressed his opinions at the daily meeting of the editorial writers, but he had no real responsibility. Although the decision-makers paid little attention to him, they would have saved themselves a lot of money if they had, for he possessed uncanny common sense.

For example, Guerdon strongly opposed moving the entire Forest City operations to the site of the Cleveland News building on East 18th Street. “It will cost an abnormal lot of money to wrap a new building around the News building,” he predicted. “If we must move from East 6th Street and Superior, we ought to buy property on the lakefront, next to the railroad tracks and near the docks, where rolls of paper can be moved just a short distance into the plant. There we should put up an entirely new building. If we move to East 18th Street, it will be too small within ten years.”

Guerdon was an ardent baseball fan, and with little to do at the office, he attended many Cleveland Indians games. He knew by heart the batting averages of all the Cleveland players and most of the other teams’ leading hitters. Afternoons were spent watching the Western Union sports ticker and later listening to radio broadcasts of the games.

Guerdon was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Chamber of Commerce, plus The Country, Harvard, Union, and University clubs.

Guerdon made a regular round of the bars at the Hollenden and Statler hotels, often finishing the day at the Union Club. Even though he was rich himself, he disliked everything about being a rich man. His clothes were not fashionable and looked like discards.

Guerdon was a frustrated, lonely man. He knew he had undeveloped talents that would have given him more satisfaction than the routine his father decreed for him. He was a generous man, known to over-tip. He was a gentleman of the old school and the soul of courtesy who had the habit of prefacing almost any remark with, “May I say…”

For years, he supported a large retinue of servants at Loch Hame. Ultimately, however, he decided it was absurd to maintain a staff of sixteen for only himself and his wife. His discomfort living in the house became even more significant when his first wife, Elinor, died, and his second wife, Anne, did not meet with the approval of his niece, Emery May Norweb, who lived next door.  Finally, when most of his staff had retired, he and his wife decided to move to her farm in Virginia and dispose of Loch Hame.

Guerdon became seriously ill and taken to his summer home near Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, where he and his second wife, Anne, had spent more and more time. His health continued to fail, and he died there on December 17, 1959, at age 78 and buried alongside Elinor in Lake View Cemetery.