Don’t you love a story like Steve Hagerty’s, which The Sun Chronicle published Tuesday under the headline “Attleboro High School grad becomes mayor of Illinois city.”
Reports like this one, which told how Hagerty grew up on a farm on Richardson Avenue and last week was elected mayor of Evanston, 12 miles outside of Chicago and home to Northwestern University, used to be called “local boy makes good” stories — around newsrooms anyhow.
The term may be outdated and is certainly problematic. Hagerty “made good” long before his election to the largely ceremonial post of Evanston mayor.
Staff writer Jim Hand reported that the 48-year-old Syracuse University graduate operates a firm that dealis with public disasters, employs 100 people, and was a consultant to New York City on the distribution of federal aid in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Still, we love the genre and particularly hope stories like Hagerty’s reach the eyes of the young as they study their way through the local schools. It’s good for them to know that Hagerty told Hand that his experiences growing up in Attleboro — in the schools, working on his family farm, at the Y, and as a Sun Chronicle “paper boy” — have been integral to his success in life.
The Hagerty story piqued our interest about other Attleboro natives who moved on and came under the national spotlight. The notables listed on the Wikipedia page for Attleboro are:
Cathy Berberian (1925-1983), composer, mezzo-soprano singer, and vocalist; Roger Bowen (1932-1996), who portrayed Lt. Col. Henry Blake in the 1970 film M*A*S*H and co-founded The Second City comedy troup; George Bradburn (1806-1880), politician, minister. abolitionist and suffragist; Geoff Cameron (1985- ), professional soccer player; Horace Capron (1804-1885), Union Army officer during the Civil War and later an advisor credited with revolutionizing agriculture in Japan; David Cobb (1748-1830), major general in the Continental Army, speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, congressman.
Ray Conniff (1916-2002), the godfather of “easy listening” music; Mark Coogan (1966-) Olympic marathoner, coach and first Massachusetts native to run the mile in under four minutes; David Daggett (1764-1851), U.S. senator, associate justice of Connecticut Supreme Court, mayor of New Haven, and a founder of Yale Law School; Naphtali Daggett, (1727-1780), clergyman, professor of divinity at Yale University, Revolutionary War veteran; Paul G. Gaffney II, president, Monmouth University, retired vice admiral, former chief of naval research, president of National Defense University.
William Manchester (1922-2004), historian and biographer, author of “The Death of a President”; Jonathan Maxcy (1768-1820), clergyman and president of Brown University; Virgil Maxcy (1785-1844), Maryland legislator, first solicitor of the treasury and chargé d’affaires at the United States embassy in Belgium; Helen Watson Phelps (1864-1944), painter.
Daniel Read (1757-1836), a pioneer in American music publishing, regarded by many as America’s second notable composer, following William Billings; Robert Rounseville (1914-1974), who starred as a tenor in movies and with the Metropolitan Opera; Ken Ryan (1968- ), former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies; Robert A. Weygand (1948- ), member of the U.S. House of Representatives 1997-2001, previously notable for his whistleblowing on corruption at Pawtucket City Hall; Mark Williams (1956- ), conservative media personality and political activist, former chairman of the Tea Party Express.
A few of my favorites missed the cut with the Wikipedia contributor — football punting phenom and short-time New England Patriot Dave Hardt, World War I hero nurse Ruth Holden and the Attleboro-born founders of Harford, Pa., and the former Attleborough, Pa., among them — but it’s an estimable listing. Add Hagerty to it.
The violent tragedy that was the life of Aaron Hernandez began to unfold itself to the public on June 17, 2013, in a wooded area near the North Attleboro Industrial Park. It came to an end Wednesday at a prison cell in Shirley, where Hernandez was serving a life sentence for that day’s killing of Odin Lloyd and where he committed suicide by hanging.
Hernandez fell from the pedestal of millionaire football player to public regard as a thug, gangster, probable sociopath. We don’t have any insight into the demons that drove him and probably won’t read the book on his life that is all but inevitable. But his hanging at his own hand, mere days after he was acquitted of charges in two other murders, brings attention to the fact that prison suicides are far above the national average in Massachusetts. Why? State leaders need to demand answers. Even if the victims are less than sympathetic figures, justice is being denied in these cases.