Postmaster William J. Wallace of Norwood dropped dead at the Rockland house. Nantasket, shortly after 3 yesterday afternoon. The cause of his death was heart failure. Mr. Wallace was a delegate to the postmasters’ convention which was held in this city and. with many brother postmasters, left Boston at 1:20 yesterday for an outing at the beach.

On arriving at Nantasket he marched with the other postmasters to the Rockland house. He took a chair on the veranda and was seated for several minutes. Then he arose and was seen to stagger. A number of postmasters, realizing that something was wrong, went to his assistance. He had fallen to the floor of the veranda and was removed to the hotel parlors. Dr C. B. Sylvester was called but when he arrived the man had died. Medical examiner Spooner performed an autopsy on the body last evening.

Norwood MA postmaster William j Wallace

William J. Wallace.
Postmaster at Norwood, Appointed in President Cleveland’s First Term

But few persons knew of the death, and the outing committee did all in its power to keep it quiet. Not one of the women In the party knew that Mr. Wallace had died and the hotel guests were entirely ignorant of It.

William J. Wallace was born In Boston in December, 1833. He went to South Dedham, now Norwood, in 1867. He enlisted from Dedham in 186. in Co I. 35th Mass regt. This regiment was in the 9th army corps and had a remarkable war record.

Mr Wallace participated in 17 battles, including some of the most important engagements of the war, such as Cold Harbor, Spottsylvania, the Wilderness, the siege of Petersburg and the explosion at Petersburg. His regiment was also in the closing scenes of the war, including the surrender of Lee.

Assistant Foreman William J Wallace was a well-known South Dedham and later Norwood Firefighter. (Photo courtesy of Michael Chisholm and the Norwood Fire Department.)

Mr. Wallace was taken prisoner In October, 1864 by the rebels, and was in prison five months. His imprisonment did him more injury than all his other service. Though he was in some sharp fighting, he was never wounded. He was mustered out of service in June, 1865. He then returned to South Dedham where he engaged in the trade of a cabinetmaker. He was employed later in the Norwood car shops.

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In 1879-80 he served in the Massachusetts legislature as representative. He was a Democrat in politics and supported several strong measures on labor issues while in office. He was appointed postmaster at Norwood, then a fourth-class office, by President Cleveland during his first administration, and had held the office ever since. Had he lived until next April he would have completed 19 years of service.

During his administration as postmaster, the office has risen to be a post office of the second class, and largely through his efforts, free delivery and the letter carrier system was established some three years ago. He has been a popular man with all classes and with people of all parties and would probably have held office for many years, as there was no one apparently who thought of making a contest for his place.

Mr. Wallace was for 30 years a member of the Norwood fire department and was for a number of years its chief. While he held that position two of the most disastrous fires in the history of the town happened, the burning of the Universalist church and of the Norwood car shops.

Mr. Wallace was a member of Tiot lodge 50. I. O. O. F.. and was a member of George K. Bird post 169, G. A R.

He was a lifelong Democrat, and before he became postmaster was an active worker in politics. He leaves a wife, one son. W. J. Wallace Jr of Norwood, and four daughters, two of whom, Mrs. Thomas O. Metcalf and Mrs. William A. Williamson, live In Norwood.

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The funeral will probably take place Monday, at the Congregational church at Norwood.

Sat, Aug 8, 1903 – 12 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts)