Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Cartoonist on the Silver Bridge

Forty-six people died when the Silver Bridge collapsed on December 15, 1967. Among them was a cartoonist who was about to begin a new life. His name was Thomas Allen Cantrell, and he came into the world on November 3, 1941, in Gallipolis, Ohio. His parents were Owen and June (Hartley) Cantrell. A younger brother, William Owen Cantrell, was born on October 2, 1944.

Thomas Cantrell went to school in Gallipolis and graduated from Gallia Academy High School in 1960. He joined the U.S. Navy and served for a time at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, north of Chicago, Illinois. Cantrell worked in his hometown for the Ohio Publishing Company, publishers of the Gallipolis Tribune, and lived at 325 Fourth Avenue. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Gallipolis.

By about rush hour on December 15, 1967, Cantrell had delivered a load of newspapers from Gallipolis to Point Pleasant and was on his way back home when the bridge fell. His vehicle went into the water with scores of others. Unlike so many who died that day, he was not found until months later, on May 12, 1968. The forty-third of forty-six bodies recovered from the disaster, his was pulled from the Ohio River at Clipper Mills, Ohio, across from Gallipolis Ferry, West Virginia.

Cantrell's delivery of a load of newspapers from Gallipolis to Point Pleasant was to be his last job of the day on the day the Silver Bridge fell. December 15, 1967, was to be his last day on the job. Not long past his twenty-sixth birthday, Thomas Cantrell was going to California to work as a cartoonist. Instead, his dream died with him, and he was buried at Mound Hill Cemetery in the city of his birth.

We as cartoonists remember him. Gary Gibeaut has dedicated the first issue of his Mothman comic book to Thomas Allen Cantrell, a fellow local cartoonist, and to Tim Corrigan.

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