Letters to ...

Does anyone remember Captain MacWilliams???

from Kathy M. in California

Kathy in California wants to hear about Chief MacWilliams ...

> From: kathym@
> Subject: George Dewey McWilliams?
> Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 22:25:54 -0700
> To: melrose@media.mit.edu
> Hi - I suppose this is today's odd question. Would you be able to tell me if
George Dewey McWilliams/MacWilliams was a police officer in Melrose? He was born
25 March 1899 in Fall RIver MA, but I believe he lived in Melrose by 1930, and
may have been a police captain by about 1950. I am guessing that police officers
got their names in the paper occasionally. I don't know when he died. Or, would
you have any suggestions for me? thank you.


... and Stringer Steve Johnson replies from Arizona ...

Hi Kathy and Melrose Mirror people:

Yes, Captain George D. MacWilliams was with the Melrose Police Dept. in the late
1940s and early 1950s. I reference him in my Melrose Mirror article "Baseball In
Melrose" published in September, 2003. Specifically, he is mentioned in a front
page article in the Melrose Free Press on July 19, 1951. I believe there is a
picture associated with that article showing Capt. MacWilliams along with Fire
Chief Sidney Fields, Mayor Thomas Thistle and others. In fact, I may have a copy
of that article and picture somewhere around here in my old files. Also, I seem
to remember that he was the Chief of Police, either in 1951 or later but I was
only 13 or 14 years of age at the time and cannot be sure of that.

I hope this information is useful to you.

Steve Johnson
The Arizona Stringer


... where-upon Editor Don Norris adds ...

KathyM: I also am one of the SilverStingers who knew Capt. MacWilliams. I joined
the Melrose Free Press as a reporter in 1956, and picked up the police beat as a
regular assignment. The Captain was a good person, stern but approachable, very
soft-spoken (actually it was hard to hear him), and obviously a good man for his
job --- he lasted a long time on the Melrose force, and retired as its leader.

He appreciated the value of the news, but he usually told me to see one of the
sergeants for my story. Which was good, because I then got an invitation to go
along with an investigation – personal and up-close. There was much trust
between us – if they requested that we not release some bit of news, we
cooperated – and therefore the Free Press was close to much of the police work.

Significant is the fact that some stories were detrimental to the community –
use your imagination here – and Captain MacWilliams would tell me outright when
he didn’t want something published. We at the paper would do our best to write
around sensitive material. In my eleven years with the Free Press, I can’t
recall ever being called down for going beyond our mutual understanding.
Actually it is probably no different today; newspaper people and police usually
have a trust, an understanding, an appreciation of the situation. That was

All that was a half a century ago. It’s hard to remember, at this age.

Don Norris
Melrose Mirror
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 2:27 PM
Cc: Melrose Mirror
Subject: RE: George Dewey McWilliams?

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