Greater Boston Chapter Prepares for 100th Centennial Anniversary

The Greater Boston Chapter will be hitting our 100th anniversary on October 2, 2024.  Recognizing that this is just a few years away, the chapter will be starting the planning process for a large event to mark this important milestone.  The 50th “Golden Anniversary” for the chapter was held back in 1974 at the Chateau de Ville in Framingham MA and the 75th Diamond Anniversary celebration was held in May 2000 at the Museum of Science in Boston.

We intend to carry on our tradition of celebrating safety for the chapter members and are interested in getting members to provide ideas on desires on what to do and where to hold our next milestone – celebrating a proud 100 years! Are you interested in contributing to our planning efforts?  We welcome your thoughts and ideas on how to honor our achievements over the past 100 years!  Please contact either Dave Crowley at, cell 617-877-2062 or John Spath at, cell 646-872-4570.

The History of Safety for the Greater Boston Chapter

History, historians.  Much has been written about the history of our country, our State capital and our beginnings as a free nation.  Likewise, much has been written about the history of safety from long ago and much has also been written on the history of safety for the ASSE Greater Boston Chapter.  This newsletter article is the first in a series that will walk you through the footsteps of the early times of the Greater Boston Chapter. 

The Greater Boston Chapter has been blessed with leadership from the beginning and today, ASSE’s Greater Boston organization is one of the strongest local chapters in existence today.  This series will highlight key safety advancements on a decade by decade basis as well as take a look at the leadership team members that helped the chapter become what it is today.  

It is important to note that this compilation of historical information is the work product of many individuals.  Most of the historical data was proudly displayed in the program pamphlet that was handed out at the 75th Diamond Anniversary for ASSE’s Greater Boston Chapter which was held during the year 2000.

From the days of the industrial revolution of the 1700’s clear through to the 1800’s, Massachusetts has made a mark on safety in society.  As early as 1867, Massachusetts had begun to use factory inspectors.  Ten years later the state passed a law requiring employers to safeguard hazardous machinery.  During 1877, Massachusetts also passed the Employer’s Liability Law making employers liable for damages when a worker was injured.  As years passed into a new century, lawmakers among others fought hard for workplace safety measures. 

In 1910, the first bill for workers’ compensation was passed in New York – but it was thrown out one year later.  The same day this bill was judged as being unconstitutional, March 25th, 1911, was the same exact day a devastating fire broke out in New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist clothing factory.  This fire has become known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, killed 146 employees, mostly young girls.  This horrific event prompted engineers and insurance professionals to band together for a common cause – workplace safety.

The Formation of the ASSE Greater Boston Chapter

During the spring of 1924 a group of 54 members of the Massachusetts Safety Council held an organization meeting billed as the “Need of an Engineering Section”. This assembly led by General E. L. Sweet formed the Engineering Section of the Mass. Safety Council. Eventually this band formed the ASSE Boston Chapter. Frank E. Morris was selected as the Chairman and Herman Behr, Secretary for the first term of office. Meetings regularly drew the entire chapter membership with one meeting reporting an attendance figure of over 175 men. The largest meeting recorded was a “Smile Party” in April 1929, when 520 people attended.

Chapter Past Presidents of the Roaring 20’s

1924 – Frank E. Morris
1925 – John E. Walters
1926 – C. Earle Sevrens
1928 – Roger K. Buxton
1929 – Eugene E. Place

Safety efforts during the 1920’s focused on programs featuring various experts from industry; establishing relationships with local universities such as MIT; advocating standards for equipment and; establishing a school for general safety subjects. The chapter continued to grow during this period.  No dues were charged and actual membership was not required for attendance at meetings. The section developed the Industrial Accident Prevention Contest in 1928, which is still conducted by the Massachusetts Safety Council today.

The nation was enjoying a tremendous prosperity during most of the 20’s. Fresh from the victory of the World War the economy was booming. There were no “attitude adjustment hours” or cocktails at the first meetings as the 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the sale of alcohol and our members have always been law-abiding citizens. “Prohibition” did create a large underground market to supply the illegal demand for alcoholic beverages during the period. Legitimate companies like Anheuser Busch shut down their breweries and turned to other ventures, like ice cream production, to comply with the law.  

A baby named George Herbert Walker Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts the year our chapter was founded.  George Bush would later grow up to become the third New Englander to become President of the United States during our chapter’s history, joining fellow New Englanders, Calvin Coolidge and John F. Kennedy.

Major industries in New England at the time of our founding were shoe manufacturing, textiles, fishing and dairy farming. Fishing had played a major role in our region dating back to colonial times. Nearly every shoe sold in the US was made in New England. Over a 1000 different dairies were found in Massachusetts alone. The largest cotton mill in the world was located in Manchester NH. But a revolution was underway with the development of fledgling industries that were to transform our nation and the world.

Henry Ford’s automobile assembly plants revolutionized the industrial world, as these inexpensive cars, referred to as “flivvers” on the street, saw prices dip as low as $265.00 each. More than one of every two cars manufactured in the United States was a  Ford Model T in 1924. (It was even said that you could buy a Model T in any color you wanted that year, so long as it was black.)  This market domination was even more dramatic since there were nearly 200 companies manufacturing automobiles during this period. But with the economy booming competition was keen, forcing some companies to go out of business and others to merge to remain competitive. One such notable merger was the combination of the Chalmers and Maxwell Motorcar Companies to form a venture called Chrysler. Another upstart company by the name of General Motors altered their dealer network allowing price discounts (rebates?), options on models, year-to-year model changes and cars sold on credit.  These changes resulted in GM overtaking Ford in 1927 and forcing the previous market giant to introduce new models and choices in options and colors with the Model A.  Auto manufacturing was the hottest US industry during this period as autos replaced the common horse and buggy.  Even the White House retired it last buggy and driver in 1928.

Radio stations were rapidly being built across the nation although this industry had an identity problem during it early days. Some believed it should be a type of wireless one-way telephone device, others saw an entertainment function focusing on live musical performances and skits while still others believed the neoteric medium should provide coverage of news events. Locally a new station that would later become WBZ was celebrating its second year of operation.

The nation was also filled with adventurous explorers during this period. Lindbergh and Earhart were flying across oceans and Byrd crossed over both the North and South poles in those wonderful early flying machines.  But alas, not all flights ended in joy and celebration as some pilots and their planes disappeared during their journey including a few who remain lost to this day.

During this prosperity Boston saw several local institutions taking shape. A controversial young conductor named Arthur Fiedler conducted his first July 4 Esplanade Concert of the Boston Pops in 1929. The Boston Bruins hockey team was formed and began playing in a brand new rink dubbed “the Boston Garden”.  They won the Stanley Cup in 1929.

Baseball flourished locally with two professional teams the Boston Braves and the Red Sox. The Red Sox had dominated early professional baseball until a young pitcher by the name of George Herman “Babe” Ruth was sold to some wannabe team from New York.  The “Curse of the Bambino” has been blamed on the Red Sox failure to win a world series from their triumph over the Chicago Cubs in 1918 until winning the 2004 Championship over the St Louis Cardinals a span of 86 years.  Lastly, a young fellow by the name of Joseph Kennedy got a stock tip from a shoe shine boy and reportedly avoided the stock market crash of October 1929 which ended the heady decade and sent the country into a depression like none before or since.

Chapter Past Presidents of The Great Depression ~ The 1930’s

1930 – Alexander Lackey
1931 – William A. Coolidge
1932 – Frederick A. Washburn
1933 – Everett F. King
1934 – Francis P. Conway
1935 – William J. Urquhart
1936 – John F. McCurdy
1937 – Hermann Behr
1938 – Russell C. Tirrell
1939 – George Alexander  

America.  Freedom.  History.  Much has been written about the history of our country, our State capital and our beginnings as a free nation.  Likewise, much has been written about the history of safety from long ago and much has also been written on the history of safety for the ASSE Greater Boston Chapter.  The nation plunged into the worst economic depression in our history during the 1930’s. 

Several notable events occurred during the 30’s despite the economic downturn. Ruth Wakefield invented the “chocolate crispie” in 1930 at the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, MA (we now call it the chocolate chip cookie). The first “Snow Train” left Boston for the ski resorts of New Hampshire’s White Mountains in 1931. The year 1934 saw the world’s “highest recorded surface wind speed” on top of Mount Washington NH.  The observatory’s anemometer was immediately tested for accuracy – and passed!  Roger Tory Peterson published “A Bird Book on a New Plan”. The following year Robb Sagerdorph of Dublin NH published the first issue of Yankee Magazine

The year 1937 saw the building of the Appalachian Trail, the opening of the First Howard Johnson ice cream and restaurant franchise in Cambridge, MA and Edwin Land’s invention of “Polaroid” reflective glasses. This year also experienced a hurricane that destroyed over 20,000 buildings and killed 657 people in New England. The hurricane did not have a name as the practice of naming hurricanes did not start until 1952.  Not all the news was bad however, as the Bruins skated to their second Stanley Cup Title and the Red Sox called up a promising kid named Williams in 1939 (may he rest in peace). Controversy also raged during this decade about a communication advance installed in automobiles that many thought would distract drivers and contribute to accidents. Despite this early opposition, car radios are now considered standard equipment in most new vehicles today. 

Happenings in the Chapter During the 1930’s

Although the nation’s economy was floundering in “the Great Depression” our young chapter was flourishing. The first plant visitation/outing was held in June 1930 when the Plymouth Cordage Company hosted our chapter. Several other plant visits were conducted during the decade such as Old Colony Laundries, Cities Service Refinery, Stetson Shoe Company on the South Shore; and Bird & Son Inc. in Norwood. The social activities of these meetings cost $1.50 with liquid refreshments available for 13 cents or two for a quarter. One of the most notable visits of the decade was hosted by Colonel R. W. Case, Commanding Officer of the Watertown Arsenal in 1938. Colonel Case provided a police escort from the arsenal to the Belmont Country Club for the social part of the meeting. 

ASSE’s Technical Meeting Topics During the 1930’s

Nationally recognized author H.H. Heinrich presented a talk entitled “Infecting the Plant Personnel with the Safety Bug” at the February 1931 chapter meeting.  Heinrich has been recognized as one of the founding fathers of the safety movement.  It is interesting to note that attendance averaged 220 people per meeting in 1931.  With the proposed OSHA Ergonomic standard looming over us today, we tend to think that human factors are a recent development.  The monthly meeting in June 1932, notwithstanding, featured Ignatius McNulty presenting the topic “Human Factor in Safety” to our group. 

Other topics covered during this decade included:

“Attitude of Management and the Curtailment of Safety Work (1932)”;
“Safety’s Place in the Industrial Picture (1935);
“Management’s Responsibility and Attitude Toward Accident Prevention (1936) and;
“Uncle Sam Believes in Safety (1938).” 

How About Professional Development in the 1930’s?

The chapter also began a long tradition of participation in Professional Development Conferences when it held a demonstration at the thirteenth annual Massachusetts Safety Conference in 1934. Although records from the 1934 event do not list the topics presented, the following year’s event included topics such as: “Falls, Back Strain, Industrial Lighting and Safety Gadgets”. Herman Behr, the original chapter secretary in 1924, became Chapter President in 1937. Besides emphasizing health vs. safety, Mr. Behr instituted the monthly meeting format from September through June that we follow to this date. The passage of the Walsh-Healy Act also marked the first legislation that regulated safety during this decade.

Hopefully we’ve got at least one reader out there that finds the history of safety intriguing.  We are fanatics when it comes to things like the history of safety or the history of industrial hygiene….you know what I mean – – that guy named Pliny the Elder that came up with the idea to use the bladder lining of a goat to make the first respirator – –  what was that guy thinking?  Little did he know that he would set the pace for respiratory protection for the remainder of time!  Today we have new NFPA standards for things like SCBA’s with all sorts of bells and alarm systems – – it’s amazing how safety has advanced and history has been recorded over the years!  Sit down in your favorite easy chair at home and read a little more about those that have come before you.

Chapter Past Presidents of the 40’s

1940 – Vincent G Pendleton
1941 – Charles T Williamson
1942 – Frederick J Graf
1943 – Robert B McLaughlin
1944 – Eugene R Swanson
1945 – Paul C Lamb
1946 – Walter H Marx
1947 – Robert Clair
1948 – Robert Clair
1949 – Clifton N Fogg

The Second World War and the 1940’s

Before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the nation into the Second World War against Japan and Germany, the Boston Bruins won their third Stanley Cup in 1941.  As shipyards in Maine and Massachusetts built Liberty Ships, a Quincy shipyard inspector, James Kilroy, wrote “Kilroy was here” as his mark in 1944. The marking was adopted by US forces and spread throughout all theaters of the war.

Cocoanut Grove Fire

During the midst of the war, a fire in the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub in Boston claimed 492 lives on the night of November 28, 1942. The last wartime action locally occurred in 1945 when the Navy sank German submarine U-583 off Block Island, RI. When the war ended several positive events were noted including the Red Sox loss in the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946. Raytheon’s microwave oven and Edwin Land’s Polaroid instant camera both appeared in 1947. The year 1947 also saw massive forest fires that destroyed thousands of acres and homes in Maine. The Framingham Heart Study, the most comprehensive study of the human heart, started in 1948. To date it has linked cardiac disease to smoking, cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Mother Goose at War

Ding dong bell,
Be careful what you tell.
Hostile ears may hear what you speak.
Hostile hands may make us weak.
Ding dong bell.
(poem from the U.S. Office for Emergency Management)

This poem appeared in the ASSE Chapter newsletters marking a transition to another volatile period in our nation’s history.  Meetings continued during the war but reflected a transition with topics such as “Safety – The National Defense Program”, “Expanding the Corps of Safety Engineers”, “Improving Absenteeism in War Industries” and “Keep ‘Em Fighting”.

Chapter News during the 1940’s

While the world was at war several notable events occurred in our chapter during this decade. Ralph Pendleton was recognized for his seventeen years of service as Chapter Secretary with a plaque that read, “The Boston Chapter, American Society of Safety Engineers, confers upon Ralph W. Pendleton the title of ‘Honorary Chairman’  as a reward for his able leadership and untiring effort which have so successfully developed the Boston Chapter during the 17 years he was our secretary 1926-1943.” 

Our Chapter Charter is Issued 22 years Later

Under the direction of Chapter President Robert McLaughlin, E. Swansen, P. Lamb and H. Behr, worked with ASSE Society officials reorganized the Boston Chapter in conformance with the ASSE National By-laws. On March 26, 1946, Mr. A. D. Caddell, the National ASSE Secretary presented the Chapter Charter to the Executive Committee recognizing October 2, 1924 as the original organization date. At this time our chapter included Maine, New Hampshire, Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Another first occurred in this decade that was not been repeated for over 50 years. Robert Clair was elected as Chapter President in 1947 and again in 1948. No other individual has served as Chapter President more than one term in our first 75 years. Members Mary Hogan and Lucille Huber also served as Chapter Secretary and Public Relations during this time. While Chapter Secretaries often progressed to Vice President then President both of these ladies were elected with the strict understanding that they could never ascend to those offices. It is important to note that the Greater Boston Chapter finally elected Valerie Lowe as its first woman President in 1992.

The decade ended with President Clifton Fogg presiding over the Silver Anniversary of the Chapter. The event was held October 20, 1949 at the MIT Graduate House. Dean Albert Everett gave a presentation on “Education for Safety” and the Chapter’s First President Frank Morris was presented Life Membership Card #2. (Life Membership Card #1 was presented to George Sanford in 1946.)

Are you still finding this stuff interesting?  The chapter history is dedicated to our very own – – our chapter leaders of days gone by…I’m talking about folks that have served the ASSE Greater Boston Chapter many decades ago.  This next section is dedicated to the 1950s.

Chapter Past Presidents of the 50’s

1950 – Howard W Kemp
1951 – H Lee Donley
1952 – Robert A Devlin
1953 – Arthur G Lazarus
1954 – Henry F McKenna Jr.
1955 – Mark J Dondero Jr.
1956 – Robert R Conroy
1957 – James D Wynne
1958 – Charles W Parrott
1959 – Ferdinand F Schroth

The Baby Boom – Cold War and the 50’s

A new era dawned as the decade opened. The Korean Conflict increased international tension between the world superpowers as Americans feared the Red Menace of Communism. These frosty relations were labeled “the Cold War”. Television began replacing radio as the entertainment medium of choice in 1954. The post WW II baby boom continued with an unprecedented population growth and trading on the NYSE rose to 766 million shares traded for the year as the Dow’s first close over 500 occurred on March 12, 1956. Other notable events good and bad include: Robert Rosenberg opened a donut shop in Quincy, MA and called it Dunkin’ Donuts; in Boston nine masked men pulled off the nation’s largest armored car robbery – the Brink’s Job in 1950. Voters in the first NH Presidential Primary picked Ike over Taft in 1952 the same year Dutch elm disease began killing the new trees in Harvard Yard.

Good times rolled in New England Sports as Boston’s Tenley Albright won America’s first Women’s World Figure Skating Championship and Brockton’s Rocky Marciano took the Heavyweight Boxing Title from Jersey Joe Walcott by knockout in 1953. A relatively new professional sport saw the emergence of a local basketball team. The Boston Celtics won the National Basketball Association Championship in 1957 followed by Championships every year from 1959 to 1966.

Chapter News during the 1950’s

The decade opened with a chapter membership total of 130 and a treasury of $500.00 but a membership drive in 1951 increased membership to 151. The official “Olde Bean-Pot” debuted in 1957 as a gift from Jeff Duwars and Jack Murphy. Long before the CSP and other professional titles were developed, Chapter members George Cole and Art Burroughs working with the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Professional Engineers formulated the nation’s first recognition and acceptance of safety engineers as Professional Engineers in 1959.

Chapter Past Presidents of the 60’s

1960 – Clinton L Pendleton
1961 – Carl G Moberger
1962 – Gerald W DuWors
1963 – Walter W Forsberg
1964 – A Richard Daniels
1965 – Ernest W Chadwick
1966 – Robert F Peoples
1967 – John W Gurry
1968 – Ludy J Benfiglio
1969 – Eric W Spencer

Great Hits of the 60’s

This decade opened with John F. Kennedy’s close election as President over Richard M Nixon in 1960, the same year Ted Williams retired from the Boston Red Sox as the last 400 hitter in the game. Professional football was established in New England when the Boston Patriots franchise owned by Billy Sullivan was established. New Hampshire’s Alan Shepard became the first US man in space in 1961 as Cold War tensions accelerated with the discovery of Soviet missile bases in Cuba. New Hampshire began the first state lottery in 1963, the same year that President Kennedy was assassinated and the Nuclear Submarine Thresher disappeared in the Atlantic, 220 miles east of Boston. An English pop group known as the Beatles played the Boston Garden in 1964 and boxer Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight Boxing Title in Lewiston, ME in 1965. The Boston Red Sox lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1967 while the nation was divided over the involvement in the Vietnam War. Anti-war demonstrations peaked at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Coach Bill Russell led the Celtics to the first of two consecutive NBA Championships that same year.

Chapter Happenings During the 60’s

The Chapter was not standing still during the sixties either. Life Memberships were presented to charter members Chester L. “Chet” Pepper in 1961 and Mary Hogan in 1962 for the untiring efforts to promote safety and the Boston Chapter. President Gerald M. DuWors also oversaw the first award of student scholarships in 1962 to two students at Northeastern University majoring in Industrial Safety. Bill LeClair was awarded Life Membership in 1963-1964.  President Ernest Chadwick initiated the first one day seminar “Safety Challenge – ‘66” which was attended by 105 people in 1966. The financial report for 1966 indicated an account balance of $4660.75 as meeting costs soared to $3.25. Massachusetts Governor Volpe signed the eye protection law for schools into effect in 1966 – with the support of the Chapter. A few universities with the support of the Department of Defense began linking computers on each other’s campus, eventually leading to the Internet.

Another one day seminar “Safety Challenge – ‘68” was attended by 125 people at the Andover Country Club in 1968. Carl Moberger was elected Life Member and the Chapter By-laws were updated that same year. President Eric Spencer closed the decade by spearheading a two-day R&D Safety Symposium held jointly with the National Safety Council’s R&D Section in 1969. Topics included “Identification of “Radiation Hazards,” “Waste Disposal Services”, ”Holography for Safety”, ”Cryogenic safety”, and “Fundamentals and Testing of High Energy Materials.”  Publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Ralph Nader’s crusade for auto safety began expanding the focus of our profession. Job duties extended to environmental issues and product safety. Safety belts were installed in autos.

Oh the good old 1970’s.  Boy, my brain cells are really being tickled now.  Ah yes, it’s all coming back to me.  Memories of sitting at the kitchen table each evening watching Walter Cronkite giving the daily updates about a place called Cambodia – – something commonly referred to as Vietnam today.  Some of us remember those times all too well.  Kind of funny that we see the similar news footage on TV today.  Except now, the 6 o’clock news isn’t just at 12 noon, 6:00pm and 11:00pm.  It’s news around the clock 24 hours a day providing details on what the latest events are.  Military actions, troop advancements and politics.   

Strange how the 70’s seems just like yesterday – isn’t it?  Anyways, let our Beanpot installment for this time around be dedicated to our troops, hometown heroes and other civilians that are helping keep the United States safe!

Salute Chapter Past Presidents of the 70’s

1970 – Frank H. LaBiaux
1971 – John M. Fresina
1972 – Norman Reece
1973 – Peter Kostic
1974 – George Murphy
1975 – Clyde C. Duggan
1976 – Russell W. Besser
1977 – John P. Perry
1978 – Norman E. LaMontagne
1979 – Gari T. Gatwood

The Groovy 70’s

President Richard M. Nixon started the decade by signing into law legislation that created both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This was a historic event that created job security for many environmental, health & safety professionals.  It was a gesture that has saved many lives across the US, no doubt.  Shortly thereafter, a consortium of safety organizations including the ASSE developed the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) credential and began accepting applications from qualified safety personnel.  ASSE was there as one of the charter organizations involves with this certification process, one that is highly respected today and viewed by many as the premier credential for the safety profession.

In May of 1970, there was a clash between protesters that were throwing rocks at the National Guard one day after an arsonist torched the ROTC building on the Kent State University campus.  In response to the pelting of rocks, the Guardsmen fired a single rifle volley into a crowd.  That day four college students from Kent State in Ohio were shot down by troops from their own free country.  Reportedly, one of the dead was an actual protester.  Today if you’re a 70’s music buff, listening to a Cosby Stills & Nash song reminds you of this unfortunate event in our nation’s history. The hippie peace movement brought about an end to the Vietnam War as we withdrew our troops from Saigon a few years later. The sounds of fire alarm bells and signals from every fire station in and around the country rang loud and clear the night it was announced that the last of our troops were evacuated from the last airfield there.  Sights of American helicopters being over run are a memory for many that were in the working world back then, or even those that were young at the time. It was on April 29, 1975 that the last Americans left Saigon.  It was the largest helicopter evacuation ever recorded in history at the time. A fleet of 70 helicopters flew 1000 Americans and 6000 Vietnamese out of Saigon, leaving thousands still behind. This evacuation is shown today on the History (“H”) Channel and is etched in the memories of many in the form of black and white TV screen (it wasn’t until the late 70’s that color TV’s became commonplace in American homes).

On home turf, stateside, a new gadget called the personal computer was appearing on the scene.  Monstrous,  large, enormous things at the time – just plain huge.  IBM cards, COBOL and computer classes became common place during this decade at local colleges. Typing classes were offered in local high school, mainly attended by females back in the 1970’s.  Today, children learn to use computerized games when they are 2 and 3 years old! 

Locally, racial tension was high in the 70’s as Judge W. Arthur Garrity ordered forced busing to desegregate the Boston School System.  Riots erupted in the school yards of South Boston and on the streets of Dorchester. At the same time, the gas crisis hit hard. No doubt many of us remember sitting in long lines for gas.  The seventies also  fueled both inflation and unemployment. 

In sports, while the Bruins were adding Stanley Cups to their trophy case and the Celtics rolled to NBA Championship number 13, and yes – the Boston Red Sox once again broke fans’ hearts. Yes, that’s right folks – – the triumphant, historic home run wave from Carlton Fisk is now just a memory from that night.  They lost the seventh game of the 1975 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Enough on that – 2004 is the year to do it!

More than 1,400 people were arrested protesting the nuclear power plant in Seabrook NH back in 1977. February 6, 1978 marked the “Blizzard of ’78” which dumped up to 48 inches of snow on the Boston area.  The Town of Canton, Massachusetts was identified by local weather experts as the hardest hit community.  More than 3,500 cars and trucks were stranded on Route 128 alone…do you remember the frontpage photos of the stranded beltway?  Damages exceeded $1 Billion as 54 died and 10,000 were forced into shelters as a result of the storm. The Boston Globe was unable to make home deliveries for the first time in its history. Portable personal computers, weighing over twenty pounds each, first appeared.  And, oh yes, we can’t forget about the handheld calculators were also the rage – many of them costing upwards to $100 or more.  Much like other technology, the prices eventually came down after a while just like those 8 track tape players from yester-year.

The ASSE Chapter in Boston focused upon assisting members achieve the new CSP Credential by forming study groups for members sitting for the examinations. The local was also involved with legislation prescribing safety requirements for eyewear and participated in the 50th Annual Massachusetts Safety Conference in 1971. OSHA was on most members’ minds as the membership grappled with regulatory compliance to the new laws. Two past Chapter Presidents Jeff DuWors and John Gurry were involved with the newly formed OSHA Regional Office.

The New Hampshire Safety Council was formed and held their first Safety Conference in 1971. The ASSE Northern New England Section was officially formed in 1974 to help reach-out to members living in New Hampshire and Maine. That same year saw the Chapter offered a 20-week course to help members prepare for the CSP Examination. President George Murphy and Brown Baldwin led the Chapter’s Golden Anniversary Celebration at the Chateau de Ville in Framingham, MA on October 24, 1974. 

Records show that the chapter had over 400 members and a balance of $3,494 in cash and $3,000 in Morris Plan Bond Certificates in 1974.  An excerpt from the Golden Anniversary Program reads, “…The Chapter pledges to maintain its flexibility to meet the challenges and complexities of new safety problems, encourage and develop the younger members of the profession in all its arts and traditions, maintain and participate in legislation affecting the field of safety, continue to develop professionalism, and emphasize that the expertness of the safety engineer warrants an obligation to serve not only industry, but the community and other services of humanity.  ‘Getting involved’ will be the magic words!”.

I hope you enjoyed the nostalgic trip through the 1970’s – now on to address the advancements of the 1980’s!

Salute Chapter Past Presidents of the 80’s

1980 – Kenneth King
1981 – Fred Stearns
1982 – Alfred Sidel
1983 – Rickard Chutoransky
1984 – Philip Goldsmith
1985 – Edward Bonaccurso
1986 – Lawrence Graves
1987 – Steven Baier
1988 – Gary Slep
1989 – Thomas Crupi

The Boom of the 80’s

Controversy marked the beginning of the eighties as Boston marathon “winner” Rosie Ruiz was caught taking public transportation for part of the race to save a little time. Larry Bird led the Celtics to NBA Title # 14 in 1981 followed by two more titles later in the decade bringing the total to an unprecedented 16. Australia captured the America’s Cup off Newport RI in 1983 marking the first loss for the US in 103 years. 1986 was an up and down year starting with the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion that killed Framingham, MA native and Concord NH schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. Also in 1986, the New England Patriots made it to SuperBowl XX where they lost to the Bears while another Red Sox Team managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the World Series.

The economy took off in the eighties fueled by the stock market and real estate market. Home prices soared locally in the early eighties as “the Massachusetts Miracle” was in full force. The Dow’s first close above 2,000 occurred Jan. 8, 1987 but what goes up, must come down as they say and the Dow index fell 508 points wiping 22.6 percent off its value in one day on October 19, 1987. An assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan’s life failed although the President was wounded in 1987.

The Greater Boston Chapter continued to grow and prosper during the period as membership approached 1000. Boston native Gerard Scannell chaired the conference committee that brought the Society’s Professional Development Conference to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston with our chapter as host. Scannell would later go on to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Safety Council. Past President Philip E Goldsmith was elected to serve various Society Positions including Vice President of Finance and has since been recognized as a Society Fellow.  Quite a proud honor for one of our very own!

Time to sit back and read the history of ASSE’s Greater Boston Chapter as it was in the 1990’s!

Salute Chapter Past Presidents of the 90’s

1990 – Jim Johnson
1991 – Richard Gordon
1992 – Valerie Lowe
1993 – Donald Olesen
1994 – John Popp
1995 – Thomas Bochart
1996 – Joel Myerson
1997 – David Pierpont
1998 – James Rowlings
1999 – Roger Foster

The Great 1990’s

The decade started with a continued strong economy as the Dow Jones Average hit 3,000 for the first time July 13, 1990. The run basically continued upward for most of the decade. The NYSE daily volume topped one billion shares for the first time and fueled by dot-Com companies the Dow finished the nineties above 10,000. Construction began in Downtown Boston on the largest Public Works Project in the history of the world. The Central Artery Project, known world-wide as “the Big Dig” attempted to relocate the Central Artery underground. Moses Tanui and Uta Pippig won the 100th running of the Boston Marathon in 1996. The USS Constitution sailed under its own power for the first time in 116 years in 1997 going to Marblehead MA. The Boston Garden was demolished in 1998 as the Fleet Center, now known as TD Garden, was opened.  Doomsday forecasts predicted the collapse of life as we know it because of a computer bug dubbed the “Y2K Bug”. The national media was disappointed when preparations prevented any significant disruptions as the new Millennium dawned.

The Chapter continued onward and upward during the nineties. In 1992, Valerie A Lowe became the first female chapter president. Richard S Gordon would serve as Region Vice President for ASSE. The Northern New England Section was divided between Maine and New Hampshire. The New Hampshire portion formed the Granite State Section while the Maine Chapter was formally approved by the Society in 1995. A chapter scholarship was named the Ferdinand F. Schroth Scholarship in honor of his dedicated service to the chapter. The Chapter By-laws were revised in 1997 when the reorganization of the Society took place. An Executive Committee was established as the elected body and the Chapter’s name changed to the “Greater Boston Chapter”. Donald L Olesen would serve as the first New England Area Director for Region VIII of the re-organized Society.

The chapter started the first Beanpot Open Scholarship Golf Outing (BOSGO) and supported the first New England Area Professional Development Conference. Both events have succeeded to this date and have raised $thousands for scholarship and continuing education for our members. The Maine Chapter was also formed from the Northern New England Section in 1990.

Salute Chapter Past Presidents of the 2000’s

2000-2001 John Spath
2001-2002 Michael Murray
2002-2003 Anthony Schiavi
2003-2004 Eric Stager
2004-2005 David Crowley
2005-2006 Margarita Lobaton
2006-2007 Remi Fleuette
2007-2008 Remi Fleuette
2008-2009 Adam Sotirakopoulos
2009-2010 Tom Rich

The 2000s (pronounced “two-thousands”; shortened to the ’00s and known as the aughts or noughties) was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 2000, and ended on December 31, 2009. On July 25, 2000, an Air France Concorde aircraft struck debris upon take off resulting in a tragic crash in Paris, the airliner impacted a hotel just after takeoff, killing all 109 aboard and 4 people in the hotel. This was the only Concorde accident in which fatalities occurred. It was the beginning of the end for Concorde as an airliner; the type was retired three years later. George W. Bush was sworn in succeeding Bill Clinton as the 43rd President of the United States on January 20, 2001, following a sharply contested election.  The Netherlands became the first country in the world to fully legalize same-sex marriage on April 1, 2001.

In the early morning hours of September 11, 2001, 19 militant Islamist al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners.  They crashed two of the jets into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan in the center of New York City.  Less than two hours later, impact damage and fires caused both towers to collapse.  Hijackers crashed the third airliner into the Pentagon and the fourth was brought down in a field in Shanksville PA after the crew and passengers fought with the hijackers.  By the end of the day, the attacks had killed 2,996 souls including four hundred firefighters, police officers and first responders. The War on Terror and War in Afghanistan began after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

On October 26, 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act into law.  Starting in 2002, a terrorist bombing occurred in Bali and in the years that followed similar bombings took place in Istanbul, London and Mumbai.  In 2003, a United States-led coalition invaded Iraq over allegations that its leader was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction including chemical and biological weapons or was in the process of creating them. None were ever found. The Iraq War led to the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule as Iraqi President. 

A new currency called the Euro was put into circulation in 2002 in Europe and the old currencies were phased out. Only three countries of the then 15-member states decided not to join the euro (the United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden).  The European Union enlarged over time, by 2007 the EU was a union of 27 nations.  On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry over Texas killing all seven astronauts on board.

On October 27, 2004 the Boston Red Sox win the World Series for the first time since 1918…they also had an amazing World Series win again in 2007 sweeping the Colorado Rockies in four games to capture their second championship in four years!

The world’s first self-contained artificial heart was implanted and in 2005 surgeons in France carried out the first successful human face transplant.  Climate change and global warming became common concerns in the 2000s.

August 28–29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina made landfall devastating the city of New Orleans and nearby coastal areas. Katrina was recognized as the costliest natural disaster in the United States at the time, after causing a record $108 billion in damages and over 1,200 deaths. 

Between 2004-2006 smoking was banned in workplaces and public areas around the globe.  Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States in 2009, becoming the nation’s first African American president.

On August 29th 2009 long time US Senator Edward M. Kennedy was laid to rest.

During this decade digital cameras, GPS navigation devices & hybrid vehicles hit the market, and USB flash drives replaced floppy discs.  In Massachusetts, Stephen Lynch elected to the US House of Representatives and the first Traders Joe’s grocery store opened in the Back Bay section of Boston.  The Catholic church archdiocese sexual abuse scandal was first reported in 2002.  In 2007 a young musician named Taylor Swift was the opening act for a Brad Paisley concert marking the beginning of her career – she would become one of the most successful musicians of all time.  In 2007 the Big Dig was completed and in 2008 the Rose Kennedy Greenway was completed.  In June 2009 the H1N1 swine flu pandemic hit us and was considered a natural disaster, in the US it was declared a national emergency.

In 2001 The Granite State Section split from the Greater Boston Chapter to become chartered by the society as its own chapter, the Granite State Chapter. The Granite State Chapter includes one student section, the Keene State College Student Section. A section was also started in Rhode Island.

Salute Chapter Past Presidents of the 2010’s

2010-2011 Kristin Hoffman
2011-2012 Kristin Hoffman
2012-2013 Kathleen Wunschel
2013-2014 Eugenia Kennedy
2014-2015 Dan McDavitt
2015-2016 Don Delikat
2016-2017 Daren Canfield
2017-2018 Colleen Walsh
2018-2019 Mike Sample
2019-2020 Mike Sample

In September 2011 a strange activity, a sort of a tent city was established called “Occupy Boston” – it was a protest activity modeled after “Occupy Wall Street”. 

In June 2011, the Boston Bruins ended a 39 year drought by winning the Stanley Cup 4 games to 3 against the Vancouver Canucks.

In late October of 2012 Hurricane Sandy (unofficially referred to as Superstorm Sandy) inflicted $70 billion in damage and killed 233 people across 8 countries from the Caribbean to Canada – the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record measured by diameter with storm force winds spanning 1,150 miles across.

April 15, 2013 the Boston Marathon bombing occurred, a few days later the City of Boston shuts down for manhunt of marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. His brother Tamerlan died in a shootout with Watertown Police. Towards the end of the manhunt, Dzhokhar was found hidden in a boat in the backyard of a residential home in Watertown. He was surrounded by police and eventually was taken into custody.  It wasn’t until March of 2015 that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was brought to trial, he was found guilty of all 30 charges against him and was sentenced to death on June 24, 2015.

October 30, 2013: The Boston Red Sox, in an end-of-year triumph, win the 2013 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals; the first win at Fenway Park since 1918, and the third they’ve won since 2004.

July 12, 2013 Whitey Bulger trial begins and on November 14, 2013, Bulger was sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus five years for his crimes. 

In 2016, our chapter was awarded “Platinum Level” performance award from ASSP for the first time!

In 2016 the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.  The final videocassette recorder was made in Japan. The mobile game known as Pokémon Go was released, breaking numerous records in terms of sales and revenue. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus officially retired its elephants after a final show in Providence, RI.

In 2017 Hurricane Harvey strikes the United States as a Category 4 hurricane with total damage reaching $125 billion (2017 USD), making Harvey the costliest natural disaster in United States history, tied with Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

2019 the Red Sox won the World Series again, Tiger Woods won The Masters golf tournament, and in the movie theaters Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, and Ocean’s 8 showed us all the changes on how to better represent women and minorities in feature films.  In early 2020 we saw the beginning of the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic known as Covid-19 resulting in community lockdowns which translated to many safety professional having to spend way too much time at home and collaborate with Human Resources and medical professionals on how to protect employees in a different way.  Lastly, Sesame Street celebrated their 50th anniversary – my how tie flies! 

Salute Chapter Past Presidents of the 2020’s

2020-2021 Scott Ray
2021-2022 Pete Turner                                

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The Greater Boston Chapter will hit its 100th anniversary on October 2, 2024.  The 50th “Golden Anniversary” for the chapter was held back in 1974 at the Chateau de Ville in Framingham MA and the 75th Diamond Anniversary celebration was held in May 2000 at the Museum of Science in Boston.  Where will the 100th anniversary event be held?  Not quite sure but we intend to carry on our tradition of celebrating safety for the chapter members and are interested in forming a “Centennial Committee” of GBC members to provide ideas and capture desires on what to do and where to hold our next milestone so we can celebrate a proud 100 years!

Are you interested in contributing to our planning efforts?  We welcome your thoughts and ideas on how to honor our achievements over the past 100 years!  Please contact either Dave Crowley at, cell 617-877-2062 or John Spath at, cell 646-872-4570.