A manufacturer/ inventor, director/choreographer, teacher/athletic director, and strongman/police officer were named to the Silas Bronson Library’s Waterbury Hall of Fame by the library Board of Agents at their July 24th meeting. Eli Josiah Manville, Robert Haddad, George Tirado and Derek Poundstone were selected by a 9-person board-appointed committee. An induction ceremony will take place Saturday, October 20 at the Howland-Hughes Center, 120 Bank St. at 2:00 p.m. The public is invited. Admission is free.
Born in Watertown in 1823, Eli Josiah Manville learned the machinist trade while working at Warner & Isbell in Naugatuck. He came to Waterbury in 1849 where he perfected the first cartridge heading machine while working at Blake & Johnson during the Civil War. The machine was sold to the Winchester Arms Company. He invented the four-slide wire former while he was superintendent of the New England Buckle Company of Waterbury in 1855. The invention was the first machine capable of producing safety-pins on a large scale and has had numerous other applications. It also became the basis of Manville’s own company, the Eli J. Manville Company, established in 1878.
The transfer press emerged from that company. Also called the eyelet machine, it punches and shapes blanks from strips of metal. It is used for deep drawn production of such items as lipstick cases, battery cases, light bulb screw shells, blasting caps, buttons on jeans, aerosol mounting caps, and countless other products for automotive, aerospace, ordinance, electrical and medical industries. Manville invented numerous other machines including the Hendey planer & shaper (which reduces the size of wire) and the automatic wire former machine used for making suspender and trouser-buckle frames.
E. J. Manville died in 1886, leaving three sons who continued in the manufacturing business. His inventions paved the way for the eyelet industry in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Born in Waterbury in 1928, Robert Haddad graduated from Driggs Grammar School, Crosby High School and New York University. He participated in elementary school plays, was an avid member of the Crosby Drama Club and an enterprising and enthusiastic worker for the Civic Theater.
He began his lifelong career as a summer stock apprentice and moved from chorus and dance leads in numerous stock and Broadway musicals and television shows. While still a senior at NYU, he won a positive review from The Republican and The American newspapers when he produced and performed in “The Little Show” an intimate musical revue which premiered at the Waterbury Women’s Club auditorium. He became a director-choreographer for a wide spectrum of New York theater activity including television commercials and corporate industrial shows. He choreographed upwards of one hundred or more productions of America’s best known musicals in a dozen or more of the country’s top summer theaters. He also directed musical revues.
He was eclectic in his interests, active in the experimental Off-Off Broadway theaters, including Jean Erdman’s Theatre of the Open Eye on the East Side, St. Clement’s Church on the West, Lincoln Center Library uptown and the celebrated Edward Albee/Richard Barr/Clinton Wilber Playwrights Unite at the Village South Theater. He directed a number of productions in the Middle East, including work in Iran and Jordan. He also worked in Yugoslavia and at La Mama Workshop for the Theater of the Young in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia.
In 1967 he choreographed the Manhattan School of Music’s performance of “Salute to American Musical Theater” at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. It was subsequently repeated at the White House for the consecutive visits of the prime ministers of Great Britain and Australia.
Robert Haddad died in 1987 as a result of injuries sustained from a fire, when he ran back into his burning New York City apartment in an unsuccessful attempt to retrieve a manuscript he was writing on the history of American ballet.
Derek Anthony Poundstone was born into a military family at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho in 1981 and lived the first ten years of his life in Spain and Italy before the family settled in Rapid City, South Dakota. It was there that he joined the local YMCA and began his lifelong passion for lifting weights. After moving to Waterbury in 1999, he caught the attention of a local power lifting champion, who encouraged him to enter his first Powerlifting contest, which he won. In 2004, while training to enter his first Strongman competition, he became a Naugatuck police officer. He entered his first professional Strongman competition later that year and has become the most decorated American Strongman in the last four decades, winning five major Strongman titles, while serving with the Naugatuck police department.
Poundstone was named America’s Strongest Man three times. He won the Strong Man Super Series three times and the Giants Live and the Arnold Strongman Classic titles twice. In 2007 he ranked 4th in the IFSA Stongman World Championship and third in the IFSA 2-Man Team World Championship. He won the Fortissimus title in 2008 and has ranked in the World’s Strongest Man competition four times. Of the twenty-six competitions he has entered, he has finished in the top three an amazing twenty-one times.
He currently holds the title of America’s strongest cop and was named one of the twenty-five fittest men in the world by Men’s Fitness magazine. Despite serious injuries, he remains, arguably, one of the ten strongest men in the world.
He recently opened his own gym, The Poundstone Performance Training Center in Waterbury where he works out an average of 15 hours a week. He hosts Poundstone Power Radio on Sirius Xm satellite radio and travels the world as both a motivational speaker and as a spokesman for Solae, LLC, the world’s largest provider of soy. In 2011 he was named the first-ever Global Ambassador for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.
George Tirado, Sr. was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1953, lived briefly in Waterbury as a baby, and spent the next ten years in Puerto Rico before returning to the Brass City. A graduate of Kennedy High School (1971) and the University of Hartford (1975), he received his M.S. in Secondary Administration and Supervision from Central Connecticut State University in 1981.
He taught bilingual education at Wilby High School for thirty-five years, coached volleyball, baseball and girl’s basketball and served as the school’s athletic director for the last nineteen years of his career. During the 1990-91 season, he led the girl’s basketball team to the Naugatuck Valley League championship. He coordinated the post season NVL tournaments and, in conjunction with the Parks Department, brought state high school CIAC soccer and football finals to Municipal Stadium.
For many years, he ran the Waterbury Astros Baseball Club, providing youngsters the opportunity to play organized baseball in the local Willie Mays, Pee Wee Reese, Sandy Koufax, and Mickey Mantle leagues. The senior Waterbury Astros won several Hispanic Baseball Congress titles and represented the Northeast in the Goodwill games in the Dominican Republic. Tirado also ran the St. Cecilia’s C.Y.O. basketball teams and the Sullivan Liquors softball team.
He was an active member of the Puerto Rican Youth Organization, which provided social, educational, recreational and cultural activities for young Hispanics. His work on the Spanish Action Council also provided many social programs for the Hispanic community.
Tirado is a recipient of the Knights of Columbus Youth Dedication Award, the Shakers Baseball Club Sportsman Award and the Olympian Club Award. He is a member of the Westbrook Elks, the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administration Association.
He served two years (1990-1991) as secretary of the Board of Parks of the City of Waterbury and was proclaimed the city’s Puerto Rican Mayor for the Day on May 30, 1990. Wilby’s refurbished basketball court was named in his honor in recognition of his dedication as a educator, coach and athletic director.
The Hall of Fame Committee is seeking contact with friends and relatives of both E. J. Manville and Robert Haddad for photos, further information and participation in the induction ceremony. Contact Anita Bologna co-chair of the Hall of Fame Committee at 203 574-8233.