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Monday, March 28, 2016

Henry Loeb III

Henry Loeb III

Henry Loeb III (December 9, 1920 – September 8, 1992) was an American politician of the Democratic party, who was mayor of Memphis, Tennessee for two separate terms in the 1960's, from 1960 through 1963, and 1968 through 1971. He gained national notoriety in his second term for his role in opposing the demands of striking sanitation workers in early 1968.

Loeb's grandparents were Jewish Germans who migrated from Germany to Memphis in the 1860's. "His grandfather, Henry Loeb, founded Loeb's Laundry."  Loeb was born in 1920. He attended Phillips Academy in Massachusetts and then Brown University in Rhode Island. He then served on a patrol boat in World War II. After the war, he gained popularity with the white middle class through appeals to his military service and through opposition to communism.
Loeb was Memphis's Public Works commissioner from 1956 to 1960. In 1959, he called for a "white unity" electoral ticket to oppose the increasingly organized black vote in Memphis.
He was re-elected to a second term in November 1967. Loeb converted to Episcopalianism immediately after he started his second term as Mayor of Memphis on New Years Day, 1968.
Loeb was a conservative in politics; but he received a large part of his criticism, as well as local support, for the local police's harsh and often violent treatment of strikers and sympathizers, which included local ministers, schoolchildren, and families of the workers. It was only after the King assassination, and subsequent Federal pressure placed on the city by President Lyndon Johnson and the United States Department of Labor, that the city relented and recognized AFSCME.
Loeb supported segregation, declaring support for "separate but equal facilities" and describing court-ordered integration as "anarchy". He grew more antagonistic to civil rights and labor in his second term, refusing even during the 1967 election to make any concessions to black union workers. He won the election despite intense opposition from Memphis's black community. The especially harsh conditions he imposed at the start of his 1968 term were a trigger for the Memphis Sanitation Strike.
Sanitation Strike: 
Loeb was mayor during what came to be known as the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968. About 1,300 African-American members of Local 1733 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) engaged in a 64-day strike for improved wages, working conditions, and union recognition.
This conflict, and racial violence that spread throughout the city in its wake, brought Martin Luther King, Jr. to visit Memphis in late March of that year, in order to assist AFSCME in their negotiations with Loeb and other city officials and work alongside other Civil Rights leaders in raising consciousness about the low pay and mistreatment suffered by the workers. However, on April 4, King was assassinated. In the nationwide rioting that followed April 4–5, Loeb installed a curfew.
Those events helped force a temporary resolution of the strike on the part of the city. Negotiations on April 16 brought an end to the strike and a promise of better wages.
Further strikes had to be threatened later in 1968 to force Loeb and the City Council to honor its agreements.
Personal And Later Life:
Henry Loeb was married and had two sons and a daughter.
Loeb himself eventually left Memphis and moved to Forrest City, Arkansas, some 50 miles westward where he was active in the Rotary Club and was instrumental in the early formation of the local Humane Society. He suffered a stroke in 1988, and another one about a month before his death in September 1992. 

BirthDec. 9, 1920
Shelby County
Tennessee, USA
DeathSep. 8, 1992
Shelby County
Tennessee, USA

Henry Loeb, who was mayor when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated here during a sanitation workers' strike in 1968, died Tuesday. He was 71. Loeb died at 5:40 p.m. at Baptist Memorial Hospital. He had been a patient there for a month. A stroke in 1988 left Loeb unable to talk. Loeb had an aggressive, sometimes confrontational style, which many blamed for the situation that led to the assassination of King. Early in his second term as mayor, Loeb faced a strike by city sanitation workers organized by Local 1733 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The strike started after 22 black sewer-and-drain workers had work canceled due to rain and were paid for only two hours, while their white supervisors were paid for a full day's work. The incident was aggravated by the accidental death of two workers, who were crushed by a garbage compressor. Although AFSCME had only 40 dues-paying members out of 1,300 sanitation employees when union president T. O. Jones called a strike meeting, more than 400 workers showed up. The next day, more than 1,100 workers stayed off the job. Loeb declared the strike to be illegal under state law, and insisted workers return to their jobs. He refused to recognize the union as the bargaining agent for the employees, and turned back conciliation efforts by political moderates and friends. Black clergy and NAACP officials brought in prominent civil rights leaders, including King, who was slain April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel. King's death touched off rioting, sparked national outrage, and prompted President Lyndon Johnson and others to urge Loeb to settle the garbage strike. Although the strike ended April 16, the city was left sharply divided and traumatized. Through the years, Loeb gave no indication he was wrong in his dispute with the sanitation workers or that he would change the way he handled it. His supporters have pointed to his strong conservative fiscal record as mayor and said Loeb's actions were based on concern for the city tax dollar and not any racial motivation. In a meeting with foreign journalists in 1971, Loeb said: "I intensely regret the death of Dr. King here, but we do not like to remind ourselves of something that has hurt the community so much. We are looking ahead, not back." As Loeb left office in January 1972, The Commercial Appeal editorially discussed his "apparent inability to tolerate differences with his own opinion." The editorial also said, in part: "Henry Loeb has acted as a man without doubts who did what he believed was right for the city. We all have to respect him for that." Loeb was fond of saying that The Commercial Appeal was a newspaper he could smell on his doorstep. He lived in Forrest City, Ark., where he had owned a farm equipment dealership, but still sponsored Henry Loeb 's Dutch Treat Luncheon in Memphis each month. He was born Dec. 9, 1920. His grandfather, Henry Loeb, founded Loeb's Laundry. His father, William Loeb, was active in civic affairs. Henry Loeb graduated from Brown University in Providence, R.I., in 1943 and served in the Navy in World War II. In 1951, Loeb was appointed to the Memphis Park Commission and served six years. He won as an independent for the old City Commission in 1955. Loeb announced for mayor in 1959 and was elected at the age of 39. He resigned Oct. 12, 1963, to take over the family business. During his first term as mayor, Loeb was an ardent segregationist and fiscal conservative, opposing projects such as construction of a new stadium, a civic center, a fine arts center. He became mayor for the second time on Jan. 1, 1968, after the city switched from a commission form of government to the present council-mayor system. Lawyer William W. Farris, who succeeded Loeb as public works commissioner on the old commission, said, "Henry was a hard worker and loved his job. He liked people. "We were friends...I remember that when I tried to change things he would jump on me, because he had had the job before I did; but it was fun." Shelby County Mayor Bill Morris, reached in Nashville, said, "We were friends for years. He sure had a lot of friends he had made throughout the years. He was mayor during some difficult times. I have received notes from him from time to time about what we were doing. It was always good to hear from him." Fred Davis, who was one of the first three blacks elected to the City Council, served from 1968 to 1979. "Mayor Loeb and I got along very well. We didn't always agree but one thing you could be assured of that he would shoot as straight as an arrow." July 29, Loeb's brother, William L. Loeb, died at 68. Funeral for Henry Loeb will be Thursday at St. John's Episcopal Church at 2 p.m. Memorial Park Funeral Home has charge. He leaves his wife, Mary Gregg Loeb; two sons, Henry Gregg Loeb of Memphis and Thomas Calhoun Loeb of Forrest City; a daughter, Elizabeth Loeb MacKenzie of Dallas, and two grandchildren. (Published in The Commercial Appeal 9/9/1992) 
Memorial Park Cemetery 
Shelby County
Tennessee, USA

Created by: Carole McCaig
Record added: Aug 21, 2008 
Find A Grave Memorial# 29216494

Memphis Mayor At Time of King's Assassination:

MEMPHIS, Sept. 9, 1992 Henry Loeb, an avowed segregationist who was Mayor during the fateful garbage workers' strike that drew the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to the city where he was assassinated, died on Tuesday at Baptist Memorial Hospital here. He was 71 years old and lived on a farm near Forrest City, Ark., about 40 miles west of Memphis.
Mr. Loeb, who in 1988 suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak, had recently suffered another stroke and had been a patient at the hospital for the last month.
Mr. Loeb was Mayor, a nonpartisan post in Memphis, from 1960 to 1964 and from 1968 to 1972. In the first year of his second term, garbage workers, most of them black, walked off the job, complaining that they were paid too little and worked too hard.
The strikers' ill feelings toward the city had been aggravated by the death of two fellow workers who were crushed by a garbage compactor. Their strike banners, proclaiming "I Am a Man," became one of the most recognized symbols of the Southern civil rights movement.
The Mayor argued that the strike was illegal under state law. He refused to negotiate with the strikers or to recognize their union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
King traveled to Memphis to take part in rallies and marches staged by the strikers. He was shot to death by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel, which is now a museum dedicated to the civil rights struggle. Eight days after his death, the strike was settled.
Mr. Loeb decided not to run for re-election in 1971. He left Memphis in 1977 for his farm near Forrest City.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Gregg Loeb; two sons, Henry Gregg Loeb of Memphis and Thomas Calhoun Loeb of Forrest City; a daughter, Elizabeth Loeb MacKenzie of Dallas, and two grandchildren.

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