October 1, 2014
A Plaque for Willard
Hopedale in September
Here's a link to some stills and video of a howitzer of the same type built by Draper Corporation during
World War II, though the title on this one gives a different manufacturer. Thanks to Jack Ghiringhelli for
Friends of Adin Ballou annual lecture - Abby Kelley Foster Returns to Hopedale!
Milford Historical Commission Annual Open House.
G&U Railroad Discussion on Railroad.net including much on the LNG proposal for Grafton.
During the past two weeks, additions have been made to the following pages: Other Hopedales
(Photos added) Now and Then - The Post Office (Photos and articles.) Hopedale HIstoric District
(Two Milford News articles printed in 2000 about plans to create a National Historic District in
Hopedale) Harrison Block (Article - site of former drug store discovered to be selling drugs.) Mill
Town or Shop Village? (Milford News article explaining why the Draper complex shouldn't be called a
mill, while continuing to call it a mill.) Now and Then - The Larches (Articles on the use of The
Larches in recent years.) Recent deaths
Twenty-five years ago - October 1989 - Friday the 13th mini-crash: The Dow Jones Industrial
Average plunges 190.58 points, or 6.91 percent, to close at 2,569.26, most likely after the junk bond
The Loma Prieta earthquake, measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, strikes the San Francisco–Oakland
region of Northern California, killing 67 people and delaying the 1989 World Series for 10 days.
The Phillips Disaster in Pasadena, Texas kills 23 and injures 314 others.
Fifty years ago - October 1964 - The 1964 Summer Olympics are held in Tokyo
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. receives the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for leading non-violent resistance
to end racial prejudice in the United States.
A 5.3 kiloton nuclear device is detonated at the Tatum Salt Dome, 21 miles from Hattiesburg,
For Hopedale news from 25 and 50 years ago, see the lower section of this page.
A Plaque for Willard
By Virginia Cyr
A much-loved and highly respected gentleman, Willard Taft, of 90 Dutcher Street, was honored
Saturday morning by this town. Taft, who is heading for his 92nd year, thought that he was attending
Saturday's unveiling of the monument commemorating the completion of the Parklands Nature Trail.
He was surprised to learn that the trail was being dedicated in recognition of his many years of
dedication as a park commissioner and for his love and concern for the Parklands and Hopedale
Pond, for the people who enjoy the area, and for the wildlife which find refuge there.
Taft candidly admitted he was sent into a state of shock when Selectman Chairman Al Sparling
presented him with a proclamation declaring Saturday, October 19, was to be observed as Willard
Taft Day in Hopedale. The morning sky was sunless and the wind was blowing heavily across the
pond as the guest of honor was surrounded by more than 30 town officials, relatives, friends and
neighbors who gathered to say thank you to Taft.
The dedication was sponsored jointly by the Board of Park Commissioners and the Hopedale
Foundation. A plaque on the monument reads, "Hopedale Parklands Nature Trail, dedicated to
Willard W. Taft for his many years of dedication in preserving this special landscape for the enjoyment
of all."The inscription is followed by a quotation from Thoreau's "Walden, the Ponds, 1854" - "If the
forest features of the landscape are to be named after men, let them be the noblest and worthiest
Talking to Taft at his home following the dedication, he was still pretty much speechless. He admitted
that he was completely dumbfounded when he learned the dedication was being made in his honor.
"I saw that darn stone being brought into the Parklands' entrance and I thought to myself, "What darn
fool thing are they doing now," he said. Taft's Dutcher Street home is located in front of the pond and
entrance to the Parklands. He said he then proceeded to forget about it.
"I was so happy to see so many of my friends present. I didn't know anyone cared. I am fortunate to
have good friends," Taft said.
Taft, who is a twin, was born in Upton and spent his early years there. He also spent time in Hopedale
with his aunt, the late Etta Lurvey. Because of family deaths, Willard moved to Texarkana and he
attended Texas A & M. He returned to Hopedale in 1928 to reside with his aunt who had, by that time,
moved to 90 Dutcher Street, the duplex Taft now owns.
Taft went to work in the Draper Corporation where his designing and organizational skills were put to
use. He received many words of commendation for his work there. His interest in the well-being of
people, especially youngsters, and in wildlife and nature-related issues, have always prevailed.
Taft taught many youngsters how to ski on the now non-existent ski tow and how to appreciate the
Parklands and the pond. His love is for natural beauty and its preservation. He served as a park
commissioner for several years, having retired from the political scene a couple of years ago.
His twin brother, Harold, who resides on Cape Cod, was unable to attend Saturday's dedication.
However, a cousin, Ken Wood of Upton, was present to share in his cousin's honor, as was Willard's
long-time friend, Carl Anderson, also of Upton.
Among the town officials present were Selectman and Hopedale Foundation director, Al Sparling,
Hopedale Foundation directors William B. Gannett and Peter Ellis, Park Commissioners Rick
Espanet, Bob Colcord and Mark Sesona, Commission on Disabilities chairman, Peter Ellis, Jr. and
Fire Chief David Bliss.
The sponsors of the dedication acknowledged the many people who contributed materials, time and
effort to make the event possible.
The granite block was donated by Kimball Sand & Gravel of Blackstone. The plaque was provided by
the Hopedale Foundation; landscaping design and materials were donated by Swift's Creative
The Highway Department and foreman, Bob DePonte, played an essential role in the effort, moving
the granite block to its present location.
A special note of thanks went to George Labadie, Taft's next-door neighbor, who was charged with
diverting Taft's inquisitive nature away from the covered granite. Milford Daily News, October 21, 1996.
Parklands and Pond Menu Hopedale HIstory Ezine Menu HOME
The Milford News clippings below are from the Bancroft Library.