Respected for his modesty, fairness, and loyalty; admired for his integrity, courage, and steadfastness of principle; and loved for his sympathetic interest and consideration for others, Mr. Walter F. Tilton was the recipient of a wonderful testimonial tribute on Monday evening when over three hundred of his associates and friends gathered at Memorial Hall in the Norwood Municipal Building to honor one who has served Norwood so well and so sincerely for many years.
Arranged in recognition of Mr. Tilton’s eightieth birthday anniversary, which occurred on April 26th, 1937, the testimonial brought together a distinguished group of Norwood citizens to pay homage to Mr. Tilton and to testify to the way in which he has labored for many years in behalf of Norwood and its people.
Seated on the platform, with the guest of honor were: Charles F. Holman, chairman of the Norwood Board of Selectmen; Hon. W Cameron Forbes, former Governor-General of the Philippine Islands and fellow member of the Norwood Carillon committee;
Herbert M Plimpton, president, and trustee of the Norwood Hospital Corporation; Hon. Frank G. Allen, former Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a fellow director of the Norwood Trust Company and the Norwood Co-operative Bank; Eugene A. Nelson, Worshipful Master of Orient Lodge, A. P., and A. M.; Eugene L. Connolly, president of the Norwood Chamber of Commerce.
Francis J. Foley, fellow member of the carillon committee and for Company, Charles J. Prescott, director of the Norwood Trust Company, and the Honorable James A. Halloran, who presided during the evening’s program.
Charles F. Holman, speaking as chairman of the Norwood Board of Selectmen, extended greetings to Mr. Tilton as a former town official and as a fellow member of the municipal light board. He closed his remarks with the reading of “Getting Old” by Edgar Guest.
The Honorable W. Cameron Forbes spoke of the great respect and affection in which Mr. Tilton was held by his fellow citizens and closed by quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem which was dedicated to the poet’s grandfather.
Mr. Herbert M. Plimpton spoke of Mr. Tilton’s work in connection with the establishment of the Norwood Hospital and closed by reading a letter from the trustees to Mr. Tilton on his retirement as treasurer.
The Honorable Frank G. Allen, who has been closely associated with Mr. Tilton in many of his activities, paid tribute to his many fine qualities and told how much the friendship between the two men had meant to him.
Eugene A. Nelson, representing Orient Lodge, A.F. and A.M., spoke of Mr. Tilton as a fellow member of the order and stated that he had always exemplified all the ideals of Masonic crafts.
Eugene L. Connolly, speaking as president of the Norwood Chamber of Commerce, of which Mr. Tilton was a charter member when it was organized in 1894 as the Norwood Board of Trade, announced that Mr. Tilton had been chosen as delegate to the National Chamber of Commerce meeting in 1938. He spoke of Mr. Tilton’s work in the organization and expressed the feeling that the organization was proud to have Mr. Tilton as a member.
Mr. R. Russell Williamson, president and fellow director of the Norwood Co-operative Bank, was out of town and was unable to be present while Mr. William T. Whedon, former president and fellow member of the Norwood Historical Society, was unable to attend, due to illness. Both sent letters of regret and best wishes to the guest of honor.
A parchment scroll bearing the signatures of over two hundred Norwood people was then presented to Mr. Tilton by Mr. Francis J. Foley. The scroll read.
The undersigned, fellow citizens of Norwood and other friends of Mr. Walter F. Tilton, donor of the Tilton Municipal Carillon, in meeting assembled on this twenty-eighth day of June, 1937, at Memorial Hall in the Municipal Building, which he has done so much to adorn, present this Testimonial in observance of his eightieth birthday anniversary on April twenty-sixth, 1937, in recognition of his eminent, unselfish and valuable services in the official, business and social life of Norwood, and in appreciation of his notable and munificent benefactions to town, hospital, church and other worthy causes and of his high citizenship and splendid personality, of which integrity, courage, modesty, fairness, loyalty, strength of purpose, steadfastness of principle, sympathetic interest, and consideration for others are outstanding characteristics, he has endeared himself to his fellow men.
In doing him the honor his fellow citizens, friends, and the Town of Norwood as well, in which he has spent the major portion of his long and fruitful life, but honor themselves. Sincere congratulations are extended on this occasion of his noteworthy anniversary and the heartfelt wish is expressed that he may have many HlQre years of useful and enjoyable life in that fullness of mental and physical vigor with which he has been blessed in the years that have passed.
Mr. Foley also presented to the town an excellent portrait of Mr. Tilton which will be hung in the carillon room in the Norwood Memorial Municipal Building.
Judge James A, Halloran then presented a bouquet of flowers to Mrs. Walter F. Tilton and another to Mr. Tilton’s sister, Mrs. Ella Roundy, who was present with her two daughters, Miss Anna Roundy and Miss Grace Roundy. Also present were Mr. Tilton’s daughter, Mrs. Arthur W. Coolidge, her husband, Arthur W. Coolidge, and their two sons, Robert and Arthur W, Coolidge, Jr.
The guest of honor then very graciously responded to the tributes which had been paid him. This response has been very graciously released to the Free Press by Mr. Tilton and is published verbatim in this issue.
Each guest at the reception was provided with a souvenir program on the cover of which was reproduced a recent photograph
of the guest of honor. On the third page there appeared the following resume of Mr. Tilton’s record as a businessman and citizen of Norwood:
Member Norwood Municipal Light Board, 1906-11
Member Norwood Board of Selectmen, 1918-21
Donor Municipal Carillon of 50 bells, 1928; Chairman of Municipal Carillon Committee from 1928.
Director Norwood National Bank 1907-10; 1913-17
Vice-President and Director Norwood Trust Company 1917-18 President Norwood Cooperative Bank from 1911
Incorporator and first Treasurer Norwood Hospital Corporation, organized Dec 30, 1918, and continuously thereafter a Member of its Board of Trustees; Member’ of its Executive Committee from Nov. 7, 1919, Treasurer of Hospital 1930-37. Generous contributor
Treasurer First Universalist Church of Norwood (now United Church of Norwood) from April 1, 1926
Treasurer Hebron Royal Arch Chapter Masonic Order 1913-29, Trustee of the Permanent Fund of said Chapter from 1934
Charter Member and Trustee on Permanent Fund Temple Commandery, Masonic Order.
Donor of the lighting system in the Masonic Temple
Treasurer of Norwood Community Chest 1936-37
Member Finance Committee Norwood Historical Society
Charter Member Norwood Board of Trade (now Norwood Chamber of Commerce) organized January 1894 and continuously a member thereafter; National Councillor and Delegate in U. S. Chamber of Commerce, representing Norwood Chamber from 1925,
Partner, J. K. C. Sleeper and company, wholesale millinery, Boston, Mass., 1887-1895 and Partner and Treasurer under new name of Clapp and Tilton to 1917; Member and Treasurer of Clapp and Tilton Company, a Massachusetts corporation 1917-1929; President Clapp and Tilton, inc., 1929 and thereafter. Former Vice-President and Director Millinery Chamber of Commerce
Resident of Norwood 51 years
Nine years ago Mr. Tilton presented the town with the Municipal Carillon of fifty bells and it was appropriate that the evening’s program should close with a concert played by Roger T. Walker, carilloneur The program opened with the “Prelude in C Major” by Bach and closed with “Auld Lang Syne.”
An informal reception during which those present were greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Tilton followed the official program.
The committee on arrangements included: Francis J. Foley, chairman; Frank G. Allen, Roland K. Bullard, Harold W. Gay, James A. Halloran, Charles F. Holman, John M. Mutch, Eugene A. Nelson, James E. Pendergast, Herbert M. Plimpton, Charles J. Prescott, John R Russell, Clifford B. Sanborn, and R. Russell Williamson.
Mr. Tilton’s Response To Tributes
Mr. Chairman, Fellow Citizens and Friends,
I wish I were able to express adequately my words my deep appreciation, not only of this splendid gift and testimonial but also of the many kind words of felicitation and regard which you said this evening, but as I am not able to do so, I can only say, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Although I have lived in Norwood the greater part of my life and call this my home, I am not a native of Norwood as I was born in Boston, but soon after my birth, my parents moved to Chelsea where I lived until I was twelve years old when they again moved to Boston where I lived until I was seventeen, then returned to Chelsea where I lived until I was twenty-nine.
After I graduated from the Phillips Grammar School in Boston when I was fourteen, a year before the Boston fire, I went to work as an errand boy for the firm of Sleeper, Fisk, and Company who were in the wholesale millinery business located on Milk Street. This concern was burned out m that fire and about a year later the firm was changed to J. K. Sleeper and Company.
Some two years later Elmer E. Clapp, whose mother was in the millinery business here in Norwood, came to work for the firm, and from that time on we became not only close friends but chums, and later partners.
It was through my friendship with him in visiting his home, which I did many times, that I became acquainted not only with this town, but with the boys and girls of that period. On one of these visits I met the young lady whom I afterwards married, Miss Anna M. Colburn. We were married at her home on the 26th of April, 1883 when I was 26 years old, and went back to Chelsea to live. We lived there for three years, and on one of our visits to her parents I bought a lot of land on the corner of Beech and Winter streets, and the following year built my first house. Several years later I bought the house on the adjoining lot and later still I moved both houses to Nichols Street and built my present home.
In December of 1887 Mr. Sleeper, who was in very poor health, invited Mr. Whiting, who was the bookkeeper, Mr. Clapp, and myself into partnership on January 1, 1888.
In November of our first year, Mr. Whiting became seriously ill, went to Florida for the winter, and from that time on neither Mr. Whiting nor Mr. Sleeper took any active part in the business.
‘*Mr. Sleeper lived about five years, and Mr. Whiting died about a year and a half later.
When I came to Norwood it was just a country village with only one block, the then Masonic Block, located where the Folan Block is today, and it also had possibly eight to ten stores.
I often contrast the Norwood of that date with the Norwood of today which I consider to be one of the most enterprising and up-to-date towns in this Commonwealth.
If any of the services that I have rendered or the gifts that I have made have been of benefit to Norwood and its people, I have been amply repaid by the pleasure it has given me to witness that growth.
Mrs. Tilton died in 1913 and in 1930, I married my present wife whom I had known for many years and who is here tonight with my daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mix Coolidge, with two of their children, my sister, Mrs. Roundy, and her two daughters, to enjoy with me this beautiful testimonial and reception.
Again I thank you.
(All articles were originally published in the Norwood Messenger unless otherwise noted)
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