Born in Germantown, Ohio and educated at Oberlin College, John Gunckel moved to Toledo in 1875. Gunckel started out in the real estate business but he eventually joined the Lakeshore and Michigan Southern Railroad as a ticket agent. He was promoted to a traveling passenger agent and ended up representing the railroad for twenty years. Working as a ticket agent, Gunckel saw firsthand the wasted potential of the city's mostly homeless "newsboys" and boot blacks. The boys were generally disliked for their rowdy behavior and petty crimes. In 1892, Gunckel invited 101 boys to a Christmas dinner where he helped them organize Toledo's Newsboys' Association. Association rules prohibited smoking, drinking, swearing and stealing. The Association sponsored educational and social activities, and the formation of a Newsboys Cadet Corps and a popular Newsboys Marching Band.

After seeing the diffference in the behavior of the boys, the Toledo community embraced Guncke's work and overtime, so did the rest of the nation.  In 1904, Gunckel founded the National Newsboys Association at the St Louis World's Fair. His 1905 book, Boyville, promoted newsboys associations and gained Gunckel national recognition. Gunckel led the efforts to build Toledo's Newsboys Building, which opened on Superior Street in 1911.

Gunckel died at home in 1915, eleven years to the day after the National Newsboys Association was founded. The Toledo Newsboys Association was renamed the Toledo Boys Club in 1942. The club expanded to include girls in 1982 and was renamed the Boys and Girls Clubs of Toledo. Today the club serves 6,000 members with programs aimed at disadvantaged youth. 

This memorial was dedicated on August 11, 1917, nearly two years after his death. Overlooking a stream a half-mile from the main entrance, the 1,000-ton pyramid stands twenty-six feet tall. It is made of approximately 10,000 small stones and rocks contributed from all over the world, including agates from the Holy Land and rare stones from China, Japan and Alaska. Constructed by the Lloyd Brothers, the monument contains a copper plate with the inscription: "The newsboys' friend John Elstner Gunckel, 1846-1915. 'There was a man sent from God whose name was John.' Toledo honors: a citizen without reproach, a friend without pretense, a philanthropist without display, a Christian without hypocrisy." To this day, members of the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association and children from the Boys & Girls Clubs place lotus flowers on his grave to honor the anniversary of his death.

LEARN MORE about John Gunckel and his mission here...