On Oct. 16, 1962, University
of Pittsburgh Chancellor Edward Litchfield announced that Bradford had been
selected as a location for a two-year regional campus to meet the education
needs of the region. Four months later, on Feb. 4, 1963, Dr. Donald Swarts,
then academic dean of the Johnstown Campus of the University of Pittsburgh, was
named president of the new Bradford campus. His task was clear: Work with an
advisory board and community leaders to open a new campus by September 1963.
Swarts was a newcomer to Bradford in 1963, but immediately
felt a kinship with the local community. Born in Brookville in 1906, he
graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1929 and later studied at
Allegheny College, Duke University, and Geneva College.
He traveled extensively throughout Europe, and lived
in France, Spain and Algeria in his early career, studying at the Sorbonne and
later received a doctorate in modern English literature from the University of
His 10-year tenure as the president of Pitt-Bradford
marked by the growth of the college, with increased enrollment, new classrooms,
capital improvements and a focus on new academic programs.
Swarts was active in civic and community
organizations as well. He was a member of the board of the Carnegie Public
Library, a director of the Bradford Area United Way, a member of the Pennhills
Club, the Rotary, and past president of the Bradford Landmark Society during the
Bicentennial. He belonged to the Bradford Club, and was a past director of the
First Federal Savings and Loan in Bradford. He received the Golden Deeds Award
from the Exchange Club in 1973.
He retired in 1973. Two years later, Swarts Hall was
dedicated in his honor.
Swarts was given the task of overseeing a Bradford
campus Advisory Board for the new college. These advisors would offer their
independent opinions, help with marketing and financial support, and give
qualified guidance to make the new regional campus a success.
Each Advisory Board member chosen was a respected
and well-known member of the community with useful ties and connections. Many
members of that first Advisory Board knew each other very well. Most belonged
to the same clubs, fraternal organizations and churches. Nearly all had college
or university degrees and based on their own experiences realized the
importance and advantage of a higher education.
That first Pitt-Bradford Advisory Board worked
enthusiastically on many aspects of the development of the new college,
supporting fundraising and community awareness, helping to design the
buildings, recruiting educators, offering advice on selection of the president,
and formulating the curriculum. Many members served for life.
The 48 men and women named included politicians,
lawyers, educators, doctors, oil producers, business leaders, manufacturers,
bankers, and civic leaders from a five-county area surrounding Bradford. Each
key member was chosen based on his or her qualifications, expertise, and
experience, and all had the same objective – help the new campus become a
The first chairman of the Advisory Board was J.
Bertram “Bert” Fisher, the president of Kendall Refining Co. His selection was
a popular choice. Born in Bradford, but raised in Buffalo, NY, he returned to
Bradford after graduating cum laude from Harvard University in 1920. He went to
work at Kendall, was elected to the board of directors in 1927 and named
executive vice president in 1938. In 1943 he succeeded Otto Koch as president,
a position he held until the company’s merger with Witco Chemical Corp. He was
then elected a director and corporate vice president and became the first
general manager of the newly formed Kendall/Amalie Division.
Fisher retired in 1969 but remained active in many
state, regional and local organizations. In his lifetime, he held many
important posts in the petroleum industry, including the president of the National
Petroleum Association, director of the Pennsylvania Grade Crude Oil Association
and president of the Pennsylvania Associated Petroleum Industries Corp.
Fisher was involved with the Bradford flood control
projects and was a director of the Bradford Industrial Development Corp. He was
also a member of the Route 219 Association and the Bradford Chamber of
Fisher helped organized the Bradford Kiwanis Club tree
farm, which is still exists today, from a 169-acre Kendall tract of land near
Kennedy Springs in 1955. He was also a director of the Bradford National Bank
and instrumental in its merger with Elk County Bank & Trust Co., which
evolved into First Laurel Bank of Bradford – later Pennbank.
He was awarded the Golden Deeds Award in 1964.
As chairman of the 1963 Pitt-Bradford Advisory Board,
Fisher saw the vision of Pitt-Bradford and wholeheartedly encouraged its
success. Fisher said, “We welcome the university and believe strongly that the
presence of this campus in our community is an important addition to this
region and will have an influence on every family. The growing complexity of
the world in which we live places an ever-increasing value on the educated man
and woman, and we must make the opportunity for higher education available to
the young people of the region.”
Robert B. Bromeley
Local businessman Dr. Robert B. Bromeley was also
asked to sit on the Advisory Board. It was an ideal choice: a newspaperman, community
leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist and gentleman. He was a man who
“contributed ideas, time, and a vision for the future and was a mentor to many
leaders in the Bradford community.” As a key founder of Pitt-Bradford, Bromeley
was insightful and incisive. Years later, when Dick McDowell was president of Pitt-Bradford,
he said Bromeley had an immense influence on him.
Bromeley graduated magna cum laude from Otterbein
College in 1929 and also received a degree from the school of business
administration at Northwestern University.
His greatest skill lay in entrepreneurship; whether
it was in acquiring newspapers, hotels, radio stations, and insurance companies;
starting up manufacturing concerns; or helping to establish a campus in his hometown.
McDowell said of Bromeley “Being a founding member, he was a grand contributor
of his time, talent and wealth over many years.”
Bromeley succeeded Fisher as the second chairman on
the board and later served on the executive committee for 47 years. His service
in the field of education was impressive. He was a commonwealth trustee of the
University of Pittsburgh, chairman emeritus of the Pitt-Bradford Advisory Board,
honorary chairman of Otterbein College, and chairman emeritus and lifetime
trustee of Alfred University.
Locally, he was past president of the Rotary Club,
past president of the Bradford Chamber of Commerce, and treasurer of the Bradford
United Fund. He also belonged to the all the Mason bodies, the Pennhills Club,
the Bradford Club, the Valley Hunt and Sigma Delta Chi.
He was also an ordained priest in the Episcopal
A remarkable man who lived life in the truest sense
of the word, Bromeley died in May 2000. He was 90 years old.
One of the best-known members of that first Advisory
Board was George G. Blaisdell, the president and founder of Zippo ManufacturingCo. Blaisdell was already famous by 1963 for his windproof Zippo lighter and for
starting the company responsible for the jobs of hundreds of Zippo employees.
Therefore, it was inconceivable to imagine any cause of action that would
change the future of the city as positively as a regional campus of a major
university without inviting Blaisdell to be a part of it.
Ironically, Blaisdell never went to college. He
never even graduated from high school. He was literally a self-taught man who
found a niche in the manufacturing world with his Zippo lighter during the
Depression years and went on to create a multi-million dollar company. His own story
was unique, but he realized that the world was changing and a higher education
or technical training beyond the high school level was essential.
George Duke, Blaisdell’s grandson, once said of
Blaisdell that he “realized that education was, in fact, fundamental in getting
ahead in the world. He’d know that today you can’t start a world-class company
without the skills that are being taught at the college and in the classroom.”
In many ways, Blaisdell symbolized all the values that
would make the new campus a success. Perseverance, determination, confidence,
and, most importantly perhaps, hometown pride, were intrinsic qualities that
were needed as the fledgling campus began to take form.
Blaisdell died in 1978 at the age of 83.
Blaisdell’s son-in-law, Robert Wick, a prominent
local attorney, was chosen to serve on the university’s Advisory Board as legal
counsel. Born in Bradford in 1916, Wick attended Bradford schools and graduated
from Culver Military Academy in 1934, obtained his undergraduate degree from
Lafayette College in 1938 and his law degree from Temple University in 1941. He
enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served in the European and African
theaters. In the North African invasion, he was captured by the Germans and
spent two years in a POW camp in Poland. Wick was honorably discharged in 1946
with the rank of captain.
He returned to Bradford and with Daniel Daly formed
the law partnership of Wick and Daly. Both men merged with Jack McDowell and Tom
McDowell in October 1958, creating the law firm of McDowell, McDowell, Wick and
Daly. Wick was a member of the McKean County Bar Association, the Pennsylvania
Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
For 51 years he served as the executive secretary of
the Philo and Sarah Blaisdell Foundation, a nonprofit charitable trust, and a
director of the YMCA from 1964 to 1973. Socially, he was a member of the
Bradford Club and the Pennhills Club.
Experience, training, and circumstance shaped Wick’s
commitment to the Bradford community and the new university.
T. Edward Hanley
T. Edward Hanley was named as a member of the
honorary board of advisors. A world-famous art collector, oil executive and patron
of several libraries, colleges, schools, and universities, including Pitt-Bradford
and nearby St. Bonaventure, he gave a fortune away in terms of art and books during
He was born in Bradford in 1893, the son of William
Hanley, founder of Hanley Brick and Hanley Oil and Gas, and graduated from
Harvard University in 1915. As a member of the Advisory Board, his financial
support and donation of thousands of books were critical in establishing the
Pitt-Bradford library, which was named the T. Edward and Tullah Hanley Library
in March 1988.
H. Tom Morris, 46, the president of Bradford Motor
Works, had been an excellent choice to serve on the new Advisory Board as well.
Born in Bradford, he graduated from Yale University in 1941, fought in World
War II, and returned home to Bradford to continue a career with Bradford Motor
Works, which had been founded by his father, George Morris, in 1911. Active in
many local civic organizations, including the Rotary, the Bradford Area United
Fund and the American Red Cross, he also held memberships in the Valley Hunt
Club, the Pennhills Club and the local Masonic Lodge. Like his fellow board
members, he believed that education was the key to the success of Bradford and wholeheartedly
supported the efforts of establishing a small college here.
His role on the Advisory Board was short lived
however, as he died in a plane crash in May 1965. Morris, an experienced pilot,
his 17-year-old daughter, Lynne, and 19-year-old Kathryn Madden, also of
Bradford, were enroute from Beaumont, Texas, to Tulsa, Okla., in his small twin-engine
Comanche plane when a severe thunderstorm forced the small plane down in a
swampy area near the Angelina River. A five-day search for the plane revealed
that all three had been killed instantly.
The first Advisory Board consisted mostly of men who
were leaders in the Bradford community and influential in financial and
industrial endeavors. Four women, however, were also chosen to serve as advisors
for the new university: Virginia Loveland Miles, Harriet Gallup, Elizabeth Fesenmyer
and Harriett Wick. More than just a token gesture to include women on a male-dominated
board, the selection of these particular women was inspired.
All four had been educated at prestigious colleges and
were supportive of further education for women as well as men. Each had married
and raised a family and was active in numerous civic and service organizations
and educational and social circles. They offered a woman’s perspective for the
first of these, Virginia Loveland Miles, the daughter of H. N. Loveland, executive
of the Bradford National Bank, was born in Bradford in 1909 and attended
Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. She managed – and eventually owned – her
grandfather Gus Herbig’s bakery on East Corydon Street for many years, claiming
renown as a baker, a businesswoman and a kind-hearted woman who frequently gave
away not only baked delights but also financial support to those organizations
or individuals in need. She volunteered on many local boards and was a member
of several organizations.
hallmark of her life was the support of higher education both on a local level
as witnessed by her dedication to the Bradford Area Public Library and Pitt-Bradford
as a lifelong member of the Advisory Board. She was honored in 1988 at
Pitt-Bradford’s Celebration of Women for her significant contributions to the
growth and development of the university, received Pitt-Bradford’s Presidential
Medal of Distinction in 1991 and the Woman of the Year Award in 1992 from the
American Association of University Women.
years later, Miles explained the importance of that first Advisory Board. “I
liked what Dr. Swarts was trying to do in establishing the college here. People
throughout the area wanted a college here, and they wanted it to be successful.
Whatever we could do to promote and help build the college, we did.”
Gallup was also chosen to serve on the Advisory Board. A graduate of Vassar
College in 1931, she also attended Yale University for two years. She married William
D. Gallup, a local attorney, in 1934 and came to Bradford as a new bride,
settling into life as the wife of a prominent attorney and the mother of three
children, Margaret, Edward and Frederick.
was an icon of Bradford society, served on the board and executive committees
of the Bradford Area United Fund, and was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary of
Bradford Hospital, the McKean County Women’s Federation, the Women’s Literary
Club and the American Association of University Women.
other members of that first Advisory Board, Gallup helped focus the vision that
would become Pitt-Bradford.
Elizabeth Emery Fesenmyer
Emery Fesenmyer was asked to serve in an honorary capacity on the Advisory
Board in acknowledgment of her lifelong dedication to civic service and support
of local organizations. Born in Bradford, she was a granddaughter of Lewis
Emery, a noted Bradford businessman, oil producer, statesman, and entrepreneur
from whom she inherited an ingrained and abiding interest in Bradford’s future.
A graduate of Mount Vernon College in Washington, D.C., she fully supported the
fledgling college with pride.
received the Golden Deeds award in 1980, a tribute to a lifetime of activity in
the Children’s Home of Bradford (now Beacon Light), the Women’s Literary Club,
the Bradford Resale Shop, the Women’s Republican Committee, the Girl Scouts and
Phi Beta Psi charities. Fesenmyer also was a chronicler of Bradford’s history
and kept extensive scrapbooks that today are part of the collection at Hanley
library. Her continued involvement in community affairs had one goal in mind:
to guide people to work in unison to help Bradford grow.
Harriett B. Wick
Board member Harriett Wick, wife of Robert Wick (who also served on the Advisory
Board) was a confidant businesswoman who served as vice president and secretary
of Zippo Manufacturing, which was founded by her
father, George G. Blaisdell. Wick has long been acknowledged and admired
for her generosity to the community and the college. In 1993, both she and her
sister, Sarah Dorn, were awarded the Presidential Medal of Distinction, the
highest award given by Pitt-Bradford.
Some of the members of the Advisory Board were
chosen because of a special connection to the community and its industrial
workforce. Just 31 years old, James Weaver, a graduate of St. Bonaventure
University with a degree in economics (and later, a master’s degree from St.
Francis College in industrial relations) was employed by the Dresser
Manufacturing Co., one of Bradford’s biggest employers.
Weaver’s greatest strength on the Advisory Board in
those early years was as liaison between the major industrial employers in Bradford
– Corning, Dresser, Bradford Motor Works, Kendall, and W.R. Case and Sons
Cutlery Co. - and as an invaluable spokesman among the workers when the fund
drive campaign began. He enthusiastically served on the board for more than 40 years
until his death in 2007, continually adding his opinion, support and advice as
the campus grew.
Popular, well known and respected, J. Russell
Osborne, president of W.R. Case and Sons Cutlery Co., was also named to the
Advisory Board. Osborne had worked his way up the corporate ladder at Case,
from part-time jobs during high school years to post-war employment in the
cutlery business, eventually being named president in 1952. He was also
president and director of Case Shear Corp. and Case Nashville Corp., and vice
president of Swingline. He was also the past president of the American Cutlery
Osborne was an excellent choice for the Advisory
Board. He attended Pennsylvania State University and St. Bonaventure
University. He came by his business alacrity in manufacturing from his great
uncle, J. Russell Case, for whom he was named, and his mother, Rhea Osborne
O’Kain. The granddaughter of W. R. Case, O’Kain was a businesswoman and
generous philanthropist in her own right. In 1977, the university dedicated
O’Kain Auditorium in Swarts Hall in her honor and in gratitude for her
Locally, Osborne was active in a variety of
community and fraternal organizations. He was past president of the Bradford
Area Chamber of Commerce, president and director of Bradford Hospital, past
president of Kiwanis, past campaign chairman and director of the Bradford Area
United Fun, past director of the Pennhills Club, and a member of the Bradford
Club and the Valley Hunt Club. In addition, he was a director of the Bradford
National Bank and its successor banks, First Laurel Bank and Pennbank. He was a
member of Union Lodge 334 F&AM, Coudersport Consistory, Zem Zem Shrine of
Erie, the McKean County Shrine Club, and the McKean County Road Runners.
Prominent in business, law, finance, the oil
industry, and charitable and civic service, Tom J. McDowell served on the Advisory
Board for seven years until his death in 1970. He graduated from the Wharton
School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania in 1933 and
the university’s law school in 1936. Following graduation, he returned to
Bradford and joined into partnership with his brother, Jack McDowell. The two
brothers later joined with Robert H. Wick and Daniel W. Daly, to form McDowell,
McDowell, Wick and Daly in 1958.
Like his fellow board members, McDowell was a leader
in civic affairs. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the
Pennsylvania Bar Association, and a member and president of the McKean County
Bar Association. He was a director (in addition to vice chairman and board
chairman at one time) of Pennzoil-United Inc. As president of the bank, he
guided Northwest Savings Association through its most notable growth years, and
served on the boards of Citizens National Bank and Bradford National Bank.
In addition, he was chairman of the Bradford City
Planning Commission and the Bradford Area Planning Council. He was a director
and past president of the Bradford YMCA and also served as trustee for the
YWCA. An enthusiastic sportsman, McDowell also served as a member of the
Pennsylvania Game Commission.
McDowell also joined many local organizations,
including the Bradford Club, The Pennhills Club, the Elks, Moose, and was a
member of Bradford Lodge No. 749, F&AM, the Coudersport Consistory and the
Zem Zem Shrine Temple.
His son, Dr. Richard E. McDowell was named president
of Pitt-Bradford in 1973.
John Mitchell, president of Lloyd-Smith Co., was
also chosen to serve on the board. He was born in Emlenton, Pa., graduated from
the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, and obtained the
rank of lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
After the war, he came to Bradford as an employee of
Lloyd-Smith Co., was president of that company by 1948 and chairman of the board
But he devoted much of his life to civic service and
community organizations and held leadership positions in nearly all of them. He
was a director of Pennzoil Co, chairman of Wolf’s Head Refining Company and
past president of the Bradford School Board.
He belonged to the YMCA, was a supporting member of
the Boy Scouts of America, was past campaign chairman of the Bradford United
Way, a member of the Pennhills Club, past president of the Salvation Army
advisory board, a charter member of the Bradford Kiwanis, and a 50-year member
of the Masonic Lodge of Bradford, the Coudersport Consistory and the Zem Zem
Temple of Erie.
He served on the Pitt-Bradford’s Advisory Board for
Other Advisory Board members were equally
prestigious. Robert R. Williams, president of Bradford National Bank, was
designated as the Advisory Board’s campaign fund chairman, and through his
efforts a total of $758,000 was pledged for the new college.
They included Rev. John Daniszewski, the headmaster
of Bradford Central Christian High School; Charles Kuhn, president of Dresser
Manufacturing Co.; Robert Cole, administrator of Bradford Hospital; William
Branch, president of Producers Bank and Trust; and George Bell, superintendent
of Bradford Area Public Schools.
Also Dr. Hugh J. Ryan, mayor of Bradford; Senator
James S. Berger of Coudersport, Assemblyman Albert W. Johnson, State Senator
Lyle G. Hall of Elk County; Raymond Youngquist, McKean County commissioner; Associate
Judge Andrew Kaul III from St. Marys; Robert A. Digel, president of Hamlin
Bank, Smethport; and Robert S. Warner, executive vice president of Viko
The board included Murray Garber, lawyer, president
Elk Lick Council, Boy Scouts of America; Richard Gould, vice president,
McKean-Potter Federation of Labor Unions; Fred Grow, chairman of the board,
Producers Bank & Trust Co. and president McKean County Federal Savings
& Loan; and William H. Craven, controller, Zippo Manufacturing Co.
In addition, Howard Herger, president of Pierce
Glass Co. in Port Allegany; Tom D. Mallory, L. E. Mallory & Sons, oil
producer; Jeremiah “Jerry” Healy, general manager of Quaker State Oil Refining
Corp.; Guy McKittrick, G. H. Daggett & Co.; Dr. Edwin J. Medden, physician;
and Henry Satterwhite, vice president and publisher, Bradford Publications.
Also on the board were David Scott, Bradford Area
Chamber of Commerce; Clarendon Streeter, Streeter & Streeter, oil producer;
Hugh A. Grant, oil producer (named vice president to the Advisory Board); James
Wolfe, lawyer, Forest Oil Corp.; Glenn R. Yeakey, Bradford plant manager,
Corning and executive board, Elk Lick Council, Boy Scouts of America (as was
Tom Bromeley); Dr. Howard J. Miller, radiologist; D. Harvey Phillips, oil producer;
W. Alfred Ende, manager, Corning Glass Works; Raymond Zoerkler, geologist with
Hanley & Bird; and Webster Ericson, general manager, Forest Products Corp.
key board members and those that have served on the Advisory Board during the
last 50 years have helped create the vision of a regional campus that evolved
into the university of today.