George Willett, 91, Helped Develop Town of Norwood
NORWOOD, Apr. 13 — George F. Willett, 91, one of the most distinguished citizens of Norwood for more than half a century, died today.
A native of Walpole, Mr. Willett moved to Norwood in 1893 and provided not only the financial backing but the direction in re-shaping the community.
A member of The Country Club, Brookline, where he lived the last 12 years of his life, he was an expert golfer and curler. He headed the first American curling team ever to win a championship against Canada when he was more than 70 years old.
Mr. Willett attended Boston University after graduating from Walpole High School, then entered the manufacturing business.
He reorganized the Winslow Brothers and Smith Co. of Walpole, then acquired the American Felt Co. and Daniel Green Shoe Co.
During World War I, he served as an adviser to the War Dept, in helping to reorganize the Quartermaster Corps.
He lost his manufacturing properties in 1918, however, and instituted a suit against a group of Boston and New York bankers for $20 million.
After a 13-month jury trial — said to be the longest in history — in 1923-1924, he was awarded $12.5 million, but the Supreme Court subsequently reversed the decision.
From 1930 to 1950, Mr. Willett devoted his energies to attempting to develop the Norwood village of Westover.
He leaves a daughter, Martha W. of Norwood; a son, Francis W. of Dedham; two grandsons, Thornton of Boston and Charles M., with the State Department in Germany, and three great grandchildren.
Services will be held at the Gove funeral home, Walpole, at 10 a.m., Monday, with Rev. Dr. Edwin Booth, Boston University professor of theology, officiating.
Interment will be in Highland Cemetery, Norwood.