Notable Cambridge Alumni

The following excerpts were taken, with permission, from Notable Cambridge Alumni, a publication by Stephen G. Surette. The full publication is currently being sold by Friends of Cambridge Athletics.

Great men and women have attended our Cambridge high schools. Many of them have gone on to accomplish great things—family, career, community, country, etc. Some have achieved a level of greatness in their lives that simply amazes the rest of us. They may even inspire us to reach greatness in our own lives. Notable Cambridge Alumni is intended for today’s young people, who are ready for such inspiration.

Leroy Anderson (1925) is one of the great American masters of light orchestral music.” His “Jazz Pizzicato” premiered with Arthur Fiedler in 1938. After serving his country during World War II and the Korean Conflict he returned to the Pops with premieres of “Promenade” and “Syncopated Clock.”

Charlotte Hawkins Brown (1900) founded the Palmer Memorial Institute in order to provide a unique educational experience for African Americans. She once said, “I must sing my song. There may be other songs more beautiful than mine, but I must sing the song God gave me to sing, and I must sing it until death.”

Harold Russell (1933) became a national symbol by meeting the challenges of his disability and by starring in the role of Homer Parrish in the movie The Best Years of Our Lives in 1946 and received two Academy Awards (“Oscars”)—one for best Supporting Actor and one for his personal hope and courage which he taught to other veterans.

Clifford Milburn Holland (1902) was the chief engineer of what would be called the Holland Tunnel, connecting New Jersey with Manhattan. The project became the world’s first long underwater mechanically ventilated vehicular tunnel. The Holland Tunnel was named a National Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Korczak Ziolkowski (1924) learned to carve in stone, thus launching a career as a sculptor. He won acclaim at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York for his sculpture of Paderewski, done in marble. He then won the privilege of assisting at the carving of the presidents memorial on Mt. Rushmore.

Dr. Fred Kolster (1902) was Chief Research Engineer of the Federal Wireless Telephone and Telegraph Company and his own Kolster Radio Corp. at Palo Alto, CA. He is credited with inventing the world-famous Kolster radio compass in 1915 which allowed ships worldwide to find their true position at sea.

William Brewster (1869) founded the American Ornithologist’s Union and became President of the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1896. He was considered an expert in ornithology and he maintained a game-preserve farm.

May Sarton (1929), noted American author, was brilliant even as a student. Her long career was showcased in May Sarton: Collected Poems 1930-1973—and that career would continue for two more decades. May’s student works are included in a separate booklet, The Writings of May Sarton, Poet of the C.H.L.S. Class of 1929.

Louis L. Novak (1922) painted his beloved Rindge in 1938. It is proudly displayed in the Rindge School of Technical Arts. Louis’ works are to be found in various museums including the Library of Congress, the National Academy of Design, Yale University, and CRLS.

Edward Estlin Cummings (1911) became an extraordinary poet, playwright, and painter. He was known for irregularities with punctuation, spelling, and syntax. At the height of his popularity he was considered one of the most widely read poets in America and used the lower case letters to spell his name (e.e. cummings).

Walter Brennan (1915) was considered the most popular man in America during the height of his television series, The Real McCoys (1957-63). The well-loved character actor with the distinctive voice won three Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor, the first person to do so. Walter visited his alma mater to the delight of the entire student body and faculty.

Donald T. Regan (1936) served as the 66th Secretary of the Treasury (1981-85) and Chief of Staff for President Ronald Reagan from 1985-87. His signature also appeared on all U.S. currency. Donald won praise during the early years of the Administration, following an extraordinary career on Wall Street where Donald had become head of Merrill Lynch.

Warren Randolph Burgess (1908) was tapped by President Eisenhower to become Undersecretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs in 1954. His papers relating to American monetary policy, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and others are in collection at Stanford University.

John W. Wood, Jr. (1893) began teaching at Rindge in 1898 and became headmaster in 1907, continuing for 43 years before retiring in 1950. The National Honor Society’s Rindge chapter was named in his honor. Today, the CRLS chapter continues to honor him and Cecil Derry. John helped to establish the Rindge Alumni Association in 1896.

John “Snooks” Kelley (1924) taught on the faculty at C.H.L.S. He also became legendary as the head coach of ice hockey at Boston College for many years. He retired from coaching in 1972 with 501 career wins, thus giving him the title, “Dean of College Hockey.” His Eagles won the National Championship in 1949. Boston College named its new hockey rink after him.

Henry Owens (1928) took pride in the story of how he borrowed from his father to purchase a horse and wagon while still a student. He would haul ice and coal before and after school in order to assist his parents financially. From this humble beginning Henry built his moving business to become one of the most recognizable names in the city.

Torrey Webb (1906) was one of the original pilots to begin air mail service between Boston, New York Philadelphia, and Washington in 1918.

Betty Ann Grove (1946) was among the pioneers of early television. From 1949-56 she was the featured singer on Stop the Music, and appeared on other early shows. She debuted on Broadway in Kiss Me Kate in 1950. Look Magazine placed her on its cover and reported that she was one of “America’s Most Televised Women.”

Patrick Ewing (1981) was selected as one of the 50 all-time greatest players in the National Basketball Association in observance of the league’s 50th anniversary. He was a high school and college All-American, gold medalist in the Olympics and starred in the NBA for 20 years, retiring as the leading all-time scorer in New York Knicks history.

Robert L. Steadman (1944) went on to become Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. After 27 years as a trial lawyer, he was appointed to the Massachusetts Superior Court by Governor Edward King. Now retired, Judge Steadman continues to lecture young lawyers in the Massachusetts Continuing Education programs.

Edward S. Waitkus (1937) began his career in Major League Baseball in 1941 with the Chicago Cubs. Like so many professional athletes of his era, his career was interrupted by World War II. Eddie was decorated with four Battle Stars for distinguished service. He returned to baseball in 1946 and finished his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1955.

Francis “Lefty” Matthews (1935) was the first African-American baseball captain at Rindge. He played in the old Negro League before big league baseball was integrated. He also joined the U.S. Army and “earned hero status with a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.

William Sydney Thayer (1881) headed Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s clinic from 1895-1905. In 1917 he accepted the directorship of its distinguished Department of Medicine, only to be interrupted by his “distinguished service as chief medical consultant to the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I.

Lawrence Feloney (1939) served as a judge in the Cambridge District Court for many years. He later established the Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcoholism Rehabilitation (CASPAR) in 1973, becoming its first president.

William Eustis Russell (1873) served as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1891 to 1894, the youngest person elected to that office. He served as Mayor of Cambridge from 1884 to 1887 and ran unsuccessfully on two other occasions.

Milton Reed (1864) and his brother, William Reed (1860), owned and operated the Taunton Daily Gazette. A prominent attorney, Milton was also elected Mayor of Fall River. He established the William Reed Memorial Scholarship at Harvard University in honor of his father.

William “Bill” Barrett (1917) played baseball at Rindge and afterward became a star in the American League, playing for such teams as the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Athletics, and the Boston Red Sox.

Joseph L. C. Santoro (1927) is one of the leading names in American art. A member of the National Academy and the American Watercolor Society, Joe art in the Cambridge schools and eventually was named director of the department.

Margaret “Peggy” Cass (1939) starred in both the stage and film versions of Aunti Mame, for which she won a Broadway Tony Award in 1957. She became a regular panelist on television’s To Tell the Truth, Password, Match Game, and Jack Paar’s Tonight Show.

Marie McCabe (1939) began teaching at C.H.L.S. in 1946 and became the first woman to serve as Assistant Headmaster at the Cambridge High & Latin School (1966-1977) and the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School.

Alfred Lassman (1924) suffered a tragic injury that left him paralyzed on his left side. In 1928 he gave up his life in a heroic effort which saved two young swimmers at a summer camp. The new Rindge gymnasium was named in Al’s honor in 1933.

Lloyd Del Castillo (1920) was inducted into the American Theatre Organ Society Hall of Fame in 1972 for his years of live radio performances of organ music and his dedication to the preservation of theater organ music. He also operated his own organ school.

William Brewster (1869) founded the American Ornithologist’s Union and became President of the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1896. He was considered an expert in ornithology and he maintained a game-preserve farm.

Alexander Agassiz (1851) arrived in the United States in 1849 with his famed father, Louis Agassiz. He went on to become an esteemed marine zoologist and would become curator of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, taking over from his father.

Maria L. Baldwin (1874) was as one of the first women to serve as Master of a school in Cambridge. She served as Principal/Master of the Agassiz School (1889-22). The former Agassiz School was renamed in her honor.

Orson Bean (Dallas Burroughs 1946) co-starred in television’s Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. For seven years he was a regular panelist on To Tell the Truth. He appeared over 200 times on the Tonight Show and for 20 years he starred on Broadway.

Matt Damon (1988) and Ben Affleck (1990), friends from high school days, teamed up and co-starred in the film Good Will Hunting for which they also won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1998.

William Lowell Putnam II (1878), was a distinguished trustee of the Lowell Observatory of Flaggstaff, Arizona, where he was responsible for its legal and financial affairs. The Observatory is credited with the discovery of the planet Pluto.

George Hansen (1926) recognized the need for a lamp for reading in bed while serving in the Army during World War II. He designed what is commonly recognized today as the swing arm lamp. He eventually mass produced them for his stores in New York City.

Eric A Cornell (1981*), who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, speaks of Cambridge as his home town where he grew up . “I benefited from having several very intelligent and inspiring teachers,” he said in gratitude for his CRLS experience.

Arthur D. Jewell, Jr. (1918), principal of the McKinley High School in Washington, D.C. after World War II, was thrust into the national spotlight as the first African American administrator in the country of a formerly all white school.

John J. “Jack” Sheehan (1914) was the only alumnus of C.H.L.S. to become Headmaster of that school. He began as a teacher at Latin and coached the football team there for many years. He was commemorated with a portrait in the main office.

Joseph W. Lovoi (1939) captured his war experiences in his book, Listen My Children, So It Can’t Happen Again. One reader described it as “a page-turning true story which alternately grips and warms the reader’s heart and reveals the other side of immortality.”

James J. Shea (1907) retired as chairman of the board of Milton Bradley Company in 1971. Under his leadership MBC grew to become one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of games and educational products. 

Albert J. Gracia (1923) was Vice President for Research with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Albert’s work along with others during the Depression “led to the development of Goodyear’s first synthetic rubber production plant.

Among the Olympic medal winners from Cambridge are: Frank Hussey (1925) won a gold medal in track in 1924. Thomas Moone (1929) won a bronze medal with the U.S. ice hockey team in 1936. Charles Jenkins (1953) won two gold medals in track at the 1956 summer games. Donald Rigazio (1948) won a silver medal as a member of the U.S. ice hockey team in 1956. John Thomas (1958) won a silver medal for the high jump in 1960 and a bronze medal in 1964. Patrick Ewing (1981) won gold medals on the men’s basketball team in 1984 and 1992.

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