Tennyson Guyer: Ohio’s ambassador of good will


By Dawn Kessinger - For The Lima News



Tennyson Clarence Guyer, pictured in a 1980 handout from his office.

Tennyson Clarence Guyer, pictured in a 1980 handout from his office.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

Guyer, far right, is pictured in this undated photo with Neil Armstrong, from left, Bob Hope and Gov. James A. Rhodes.

Guyer, far right, is pictured in this undated photo with Neil Armstrong, from left, Bob Hope and Gov. James A. Rhodes.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

Guyer, pictured in 1977.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

This photo from May 9, 1958 shows Grant Sorgen, left, 1st Federal Savings & Loan newly elected president of the 3rd District Ohio Savings & Loan League, Rachel Peacemaker of West Milton, the outgoing president, Guyer, and Samuel Heitzman, 3rd District secretary. Guyer was the guest speaker at the event.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

This photo is from a wallet-card calendar used as a handout during his 1972 campaign.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

This undated photo shows Guyer with Richard Nixon.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

This undated drawing is from a multi-page ad for his speaking services.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

LIMA — Tennyson Clarence Guyer, who served the public in a variety of capacities, was born in Findlay on Nov. 29, 1912, to William Harris and Myrtle Emma Hartsock Guyer.

“Tenny” Guyer was raised in an atmosphere of good reading, simple living and gifted speaking, according to a Dec. 28, 1958, news story. Tenny’s father was the president of Findlay College.

A “man of many cloaks,” Tennyson Guyer was a caddie, bellhop, circus performer, schoolteacher, mayor of Celina, minister of the First Church of God, author, humorist, humanitarian and politician — and in 1958, the newest political experience would be as the senator-elect to the Ohio State Legislature which was set to begin in January 1959 and would continue for 12 years. Guyer was also the executive assistant and director of public relations for Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. of Findlay.

Guyer began speaking publicly when he was 19. News reports state that he made more than 8,500 audience appearances, had been known to write more than 200 speeches in a year, and traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia. Guyer also spoke in 28 states, as well as Canada and Cuba, and performed on radio for more than six years.

On July 8, 1959, just months after Guyer began serving in the Ohio Senate, a local news story offered evidence of his sense of humor when the Senate voted unanimously to permit trapping and killing pigeons after hearing Guyer recite a lengthy verse, part of which includes the following:

“Now I’m not a foe of pigeons, there are 600 kinds or more; Homing, carrier, racers — fantailers and many more. But pigeons, like canaries, ought to stay in place; They don’t belong in capitols, or in a person’s face. Visitors aren’t greeted with a key to our fair city; Instead they’re salt-and-peppered by a feathered squad committee. Ohio’s stalwart statued sons are wearing ghastly blots; We prefer to see them dressed without the polka-dots. Now at last we have the answer — The pigeons have to go, The bill is now before you — you simply can’t vote No.”

Guyer married Edith Mae Reuter on June 10, 1944, and the couple had two daughters, Sharon and Rosetta.

When Guyer was elected to Ohio’s 4th Congressional District in November 1972, his No. 1 unpaid assistant was his wife, Mae, according to a Feb. 15, 1973, news report.

“Throughout our 28 years of marriage, I’ve always tried to help Tenny. We work as a team. And right now someone’s got to water the plants,” Mae Guyer said. “Tenny gets the brilliant ideas and I organize and try to execute, step by step,” she said.

Mae also typed, paid the bills and chose her husband’s clothing.

“He claims he’s partially color-blind,” she said.

Guyer took pride in his record of service to the 4th District and was re-elected by wide margins four times. He was also highly regarded as “Ohio’s Ambassador of Good Will” and was known as one of the nation’s best commencement speakers.

Guyer spoke to members of the Lima Lions club and their guests on Oct. 22, 1946, at the Barr Hotel in Lima. He was the principal speaker at the club’s 26th annual charter and ladies night party, and his speech focused on the need for nations to help one another survive.

“Pointing to the apparent blessings on citizens of the United States, Rev. Guyer cited the needs of the other nations of the world. He based his talk on a music theme, stressing that the need is great for melody, love and harmony in daily living,” said a news report.

According to a March 15, 1950, news report, Guyer was the main speaker at an annual banquet of the Mercer County Society for Crippled Children. Guyer had served as president of the society when he had been pastor of Celina Church of God. He stressed the importance of realizing the needs of handicapped children.

“He asked the audience to make a pledge of their support and stated ‘with a togetherness, and unity of purpose, we can and will help every handicapped child in Mercer County,’” the story said.

Guyer lamented to the Kiwanis Club on Sept. 6, 1961, that baseball was the only news worth reading.

“It’s a very unusual world. At this moment the world is seething with 16 revolutions and the world of conversation is gone. We can’t get our message across anymore,” Guyer said in his talk, which he titled, “The Secret Five to Stay Alive.” Those secrets include the following:

“One, know where we’re going — we’ve lost our national sense of direction. Two, make your own climate. Be like the cabbie who says there is no bad weather, only different types of good weather. Three, if you’re a man, smile — if a dog, wag your tail. Four, use high-octane enthusiasm. Five, have faith in the magic of believing. We’re only as good as what we believe.”

Guyer died April 12, 1981, in Findlay at age 67.

“Rep. Guyer was a legislator who always championed the rights of those he represented,” according to an April 16, 1981, editorial that was written days after his death. “That he never achieved a wide national reputation as a politician was of no concern to him. ‘I don’t care who gets the credit as long as a bill comes out,’” Guyer said in an interview.

“Some of his jokes may have been corny, but Tennyson Guyer genuinely cared for people. He was an able and likable congressman who will be missed by Ohio’s 4th Congressional District.”

Tennyson Clarence Guyer, pictured in a 1980 handout from his office.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/07/web1_1980.jpgTennyson Clarence Guyer, pictured in a 1980 handout from his office. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
Guyer, far right, is pictured in this undated photo with Neil Armstrong, from left, Bob Hope and Gov. James A. Rhodes.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/07/web1_Armstrong-Hope-Rhodes-Guyer.jpgGuyer, far right, is pictured in this undated photo with Neil Armstrong, from left, Bob Hope and Gov. James A. Rhodes. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
Guyer, pictured in 1977.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/07/web1_b.jpgGuyer, pictured in 1977. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
This photo from May 9, 1958 shows Grant Sorgen, left, 1st Federal Savings & Loan newly elected president of the 3rd District Ohio Savings & Loan League, Rachel Peacemaker of West Milton, the outgoing president, Guyer, and Samuel Heitzman, 3rd District secretary. Guyer was the guest speaker at the event.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/07/web1_1958.jpgThis photo from May 9, 1958 shows Grant Sorgen, left, 1st Federal Savings & Loan newly elected president of the 3rd District Ohio Savings & Loan League, Rachel Peacemaker of West Milton, the outgoing president, Guyer, and Samuel Heitzman, 3rd District secretary. Guyer was the guest speaker at the event. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
This photo is from a wallet-card calendar used as a handout during his 1972 campaign.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/07/web1_hand-out-1972.jpgThis photo is from a wallet-card calendar used as a handout during his 1972 campaign. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
This undated photo shows Guyer with Richard Nixon.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/07/web1_Nixon-Guyer.jpgThis undated photo shows Guyer with Richard Nixon. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
This undated drawing is from a multi-page ad for his speaking services.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/07/web1_speakers-promo.jpgThis undated drawing is from a multi-page ad for his speaking services. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

By Dawn Kessinger

For The Lima News

Reach Dawn Kessinger at info@limanews.com.

Reach Dawn Kessinger at info@limanews.com.

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