Hamel and Davis to Enter Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame

Louis H. Hamel, left, and John Bradford Davis Jr., right, will be inducted into the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame Oct. 23.

Louis H. Hamel, left, and John Bradford Davis Jr., right, will be inducted into the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame Oct. 23.

Hall of Fame logoA successful manufacturer with a history of civic commitment and a college president determined to create social change will be inducted into the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame later this month.

Louis H. Hamel and John Bradford Davis Jr. are the latest inductees into the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame, established in 1985, that already honors 34 other prominent citizens. The ceremony takes place at 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Haverhill Public Library.

“The community is honored to have the children and grandchildren of these two giants in their respective fields speaking or in attendance for this celebration. With honorees going back to the 17th century, it has not always been possible to have members of the family present,” said Dr. Paul M. Bevilacqua, chairman of the hall of fame committee. Speakers include Louis H. Hamel III, Hamel’s grandson; and Martha Pattee, Nancy Lasar and John B. Davis III, Davis’ children, Bevilacqua said.

Louis H. Hamel (1898-1975)

Louis H. Hamel was an innovative manufacturer, business leader and philanthropist. He familiarized himself with Haverhill’s booming shoe industry at a young age when he sold candy and ice cream to factory workers after school for extra money. At age 14, he used his contacts and went to work as an errand boy for the Webster and Webber Shoe Company and later Hartman Shoe Company.

His entrepreneurial spirit came to life as he was leaving Hartman Shoe at age 18 and asked about buying scrap material. He quickly found buyers at a marked up price and founded the Louis H. Hamel Leather Company. The business expanded quickly from one room in 1915 to a full floor at 100 Washington St. two years later and, in 1920, the entire building.

By 1928, and now at 117 Essex St., Hamel Leather turned to tanning and became the largest producer of shoe linings in the nation. Looking for continuous improvement, He patented his own Nu-Process system for leather treatment. By the end of World War II, in 1945, Hamel Leather was the largest kidskin tanner in
the world.

Far ahead of his time, Hamel worked to improve the lives of his employees, supporting the formation of the Hamel Employees’ Credit Union, adding accident and sickness benefits and providing bonuses and pension plans. In service to the community Hamel worked to create Merrimack College and establish the Hamel Charitable Foundation. Years after his death the foundation continued supporting the community, providing among other gifts, a major grant to equip the new Hale Hospital in 1984.

Web Bonus: Hear Louis H. Hamel, himself, from this private recording made in 1948.

John Bradford Davis Jr. (1921-2011)

As the superintendent of schools, John Bradford Davis Jr. led the Minneapolis School System through the tumultuous years of desegregation with determination and clarity. Guided by a strong commitment to civil rights, Davis introduced a voluntary busing plan in 1969, and in 1970 moved to a system of mandatory busing and school pairing, in the face of fervently divided opinions which were a common reaction in that nationwide era of social upheaval. His further commitments to social change are well documented, whether marching with Coretta Scott King or protesting the Vietnam War.

In 1975 Davis was named the president of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. Faced with the challenges of student unrest and budgetary problems he restored the school’s financial condition, enhanced its scholastic reputation and won the respect of students, faculty and benefactors during the nine years in which he presided.

In later years Davis’s renown as a problem solver was the cause of his recruitment to several trouble-shooting roles. As the interim president of the Children’s Theater Company and School, he restored its credibility and reputation following a scandal that threatened its continued existence. Likewise the financially troubled St. Paul Chamber Orchestra sought his wisdom and guidance in restoring sound fiscal practices. Davis also served as chairman of the board of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank and in 1994 was named Man of the Year by Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Davis was a Haverhill native and a graduate of the Haverhill High School class of 1939. He pursued his higher education at the University of New Hampshire and later received Masters and Doctorate Degrees from Harvard University.

The Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame was established in 1985. Its purpose is to recognize prominently, and in perpetuity, individuals from Haverhill who have made significant contributions to the larger community of state, country and world of which we are all citizens. This Hall of Fame, by calling attention to the part that Haverhill played in the lives of these individuals, serves as a source of pride and inspiration and provides an opportunity for future generations to better understand their community’s history.

Besides Bevilacqua, committee members include Robert P. Gilman, chairman emeritus; Tim Coco; E. Philip Brown; Arthur H. Veasey III; Joan Cranton; Peter A. Carbone; Ellen Small Davis and Joanne M. Sullivan. Resource representatives include Dr. Stephen Russell, history professor; William Cantwell, editor; Dr. Patricia Trainor O’Malley, educator and author; Kendall Smith, banker and historian; and Jan Williams, museum curator.

Full List of Hall of Fame Members

In order of induction, the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame honors the following:

• John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
• Hannah Emerson Dustin (1657-1732)
• Frank Howard Lahey (1880-1953)
• William H. Moody (1853-1917)
• Thomas S. Sanders (1839-1911)
• James Brickett (1738-1818)
• Louis B. Mayer (1885-1957)
• Bailey Bartlett (1750-1830)
• James U. Crockett (1915-1979)
• Bob Montana (1920-1975)
• John C. Chase (1870-___)
• William Francis Bartlett (1840-1876)
• Stuart Chase (1888-1985)
• Rowland H. Macy (1822-1919)
• Ann Haseltine Judson (1789-1826)
• Frankie Fontaine (1920-1978)
• Daniel Appleton (1785-1849)
• Winfield Townley Scott (1910-1968)
• Nathaniel Saltonstall (1639-1707)
• Benjamin Greenleaf (1786-1864)
• James R. Nichols (1819-1888)
• Enoch Bartlett (1779-1860)
• Muriel Sanders Draper (1886-1952)
• Louis Alter (1902-1980)
• Donald J. Atwood (1924-1993)
• Gladys Emerson Cook (1895-1975)
• Joseph C. Goyette (1884-1969)
• Gert Swazey (Wilson) (1855-1934)
• Dudley Eaton Fitts (1903-1968)
• Cora Chase (1892-1984)
• John A. Bellairs (1938-1991)
• Andre Dubus (1937-1999)
• A. Raymond Tye (1923-2010)
• Ezekiel J.M. Hale (1813-1881)