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Cleveland Indians logo Chief Wahoo creator Walter Goldbach dies

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    Medina Township resident Walter Goldbach is shown Monday with his 1946 design of Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians’ logo.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE FILE

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Medina Township resident Walter Goldbach, shown in this April 2017 photo, died last week at age 88. GAZETTE FILE

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MEDINA TWP. — Walter Goldbach was just a teenager when he designed a logo for the Cleveland Indians in 1946.

On Wednesday, the proud Indians fan died. He was 88.

The Medina Township resident created what became known as the Tribe’s Chief Wahoo logo when he was a 17-year-old senior at Rhodes High School in Cleveland.

Goldbach’s family business, J.F. Novak Co., near West 25th Street in Cleveland, was approached by then Indians owner Bill Veeck.

“He wanted the logo changed,” Goldbach said in an April story in The Gazette. “They had a logo of an Indian chief in full headdress. He wanted a character drawing.”

Veeck asked for five or six different options. They selected Goldbach’s idea. “They gave me free rein,” he said. “I’m thankful for that, too.”

Goldbach, who served in the Army during the Korean War, said in the story he’s honored the Indians still use his logo decades later.

“It was changed a little bit,” he said. “Originally, it had orange face. They did away with the orange face and made it red. They also took away the ponytail and straightened out the feather.”

He also said he worries the organization will alter the logo again because there is some pressure to make it more culturally sensitive.

“I’m a little leery about them changing it,” Goldbach said in April. “I think they’ll get a lot of die-hard fans teed off about the whole thing.”

Goldbach was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Barbara. They had five children — Linda Cahill, Laura (David) Kozman, Michael (Jeanne) Goldbach, Karen (Randy) Goodson and Heidi (Scott) Balicki.

Calling hours will be 3-7 p.m. Wednesday at Carlson Funeral Home, 3477 Medina Road, Medina Township. A Mass of Christian burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 1088 Ridge Road, Hinckley. Interment will follow at 1 p.m. at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.



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