'Ted' Bonda dead at 88
Tenacious in business and passionate in civic service, he was a strong champion of Cleveland. He lacked the money to attend college yet served as president of the Cleveland school board and chairman of the Ohio Board of Regents. He used his own money to keep Major League Baseball in Cleveland and brought other pro teams to town.
Bonda, 88, was born in Cleveland and graduated from Glenville High School. He began his career as a clerk in a shoe store and a parking lot attendant.
After serving in the Army during World War II, Bonda formed a partnership with lawyer Howard Metzenbaum, his boyhood friend. They operated an Avis car-rental franchise downtown and found they could make extra money by letting motorists park on their lot. That led to obtaining space at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to set up the first paid airport lot. Their Airport Parking Co. of America, now known as APCOA Inc., grew into the world's largest parking company, with Bonda serving as president for nine years.
Bonda was chairman of Avis' advertising committee in 1961 when it created a highly successful campaign with the slogan, "Avis is only No. 2. We try harder." He was the chairman of Avis and of its parent, ITT Consumer Services Corp., for five years until 1973. He also owned a chain of hotels and the Washington Yellow Cab Co.
Bonda served on other corporate boards including Steak & Shake; Society National Bank, now KeyBank; Wright Airlines; Penril Corp.; and King Cola. He was an early investor and direc tor of MCI Com munications.
"Despite his great success in business, our dad was most proud of his family and the positive effect he had on people and Greater Cleveland, the community he loved," said his son, Tom of Pepper Pike.
Bonda's best-known civic activity was with the Indians in the 1970s, when community leaders feared that the baseball club would move to another city. Bonda led a group of more than 50 local business owners who bought the team. Despite losing money each year, team president Bonda fended off out-of-town suitors with deep pockets, including developer Donald Trump, because they would not promise to keep the Indians in Cleveland. Along the way he contributed to sports history by hiring Frank Robinson as the major leagues' first black manager.
"It was the right thing to do," Bonda said.
He also designated John Adams as the team drummer with an assigned seat. Although Bonda sold his interest in the team in 1979, he continued to attend games in an Indians jacket and cap and sit next to Adams in the bleachers.
Alva "Ted" Bonda