June 8 – Happy Birthday Luther Dean

LdeanIt is too bad Luther Dean has been dead for just over a century because I could sure use an individual like him if I’m elected Mayor of Amsterdam. Listen to this resume. He was born on the South Side when it was still called Port Jackson on this date in 1842. His dad was a shoe salesman. After finishing his studies at the Amsterdam Academy, he went to work as a clerk in Gardiner Blood’s dry goods store. After four years of doing that, he became a bookkeeper for the Farmers’ Bank.

Apparently everyone in town loved Dean because he was such a personable, hard-working young man. After four years at the bank, he was ready to go into his own business and he and a partner named John Larrabee purchased a small local hardware store. By the time he sold the business 14 years later he had grown it into the largest hardware store in Amsterdam, one that would continue to prosper for the next eight decades under the name of Larrabee’s.

Dean, his brother-in-law and a New Jersey cousin then started the Park Knitting Mill in Amsterdam and ran it successfully for pretty much the rest of his life. Meanwhile he was one of the founders of the Amsterdam Savings Bank, the Amsterdam Board of Trade and the Amsterdam Library and sat on the boards of all three organizations. He was also a three-time president of the Amsterdam YMCA, an elder in the Reformed Church and he ran that Congregation’s Sunday School program for thirteen years. Believe it or not, there’s more folks!

He was a Village of Amsterdam trustee for three years, its assessor for three more plus he was a leading member of the commission that built this City’s first sewer system. Originally, the design called for 15 miles of sewer pipe at a cost of $268,000. Thanks in large part to Dean’s banking and business management experience, the finished system was expanded to 24 miles of pipe at a cost of just $240,000 and when it was made operational, it was considered one of the most complete and effective sewer systems in the country.

Dean and his wife Mary had four children but just one daughter named Fanny survived them. Dean himself passed away in 1912.


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