In the years just before “a date which will live in infamy,” December 7, 1941; Kurn Hattin Homes had two short term assistant directors, William “Bill” Avery, 1938-1940 and John Watson, 1941-1942.
Bill was a reserve Second Lieutenant in the US Army because he received Reserve Officer Training Corps military science instruction in college. This led to a thirty-year career in the US Army.
John Watson, 1941-1942, followed a different path. He extended his college studies to earn a master’s degree in economics. About one year after becoming Assistant Director, John, like many young single men, was called to active duty for army basic training. This was followed by officer training and a commission as a Second Lieutenant. John’s position as Assistant Director was saved for him. He served in this office from 1946-1957, when he moved on to a position in the admissions office of Tufts College. Both John and his wife were graduates of Tufts College. In 1963, John was called back to Kurn Hattin Homes to serve as the Director, a position which he filled with distinction.
As a student at Kurn Hattin Homes from 1936 to 1943, I was drawn to these two gentlemen who served in the armed forces during the World War II period. It was also a time that I became more aware of words and their meanings.
At one point, Bill Avery was observing the band during practice and he stopped us and told us that we had to focus on what we were doing. He suggested it would be easier for us to maintain our right and left alignment if we pretended that each row of the band held extra long broom sticks. That would give us something to focus on.
John Watson, while on a brief furlough between basic and officer training, guided us on a broader path to develop a sense of responsibility. Take care of your possessions and the ones entrusted to your care, whether they be food, clothing, weapons, bedding or other life essentials. Furthermore, this was both an individual and a group responsibility. Maturing as a college student, Marine Corps Officer and Kurn Hattin Homes Executive Director, I used words like focus and responsibility and a multitude of others to select a wise path and maintain direction throughout life’s ever-changing conditions.
I learned to value words as assets and to use this knowledge for the benefit of others. The power of small words can grow into valuable ideas, and when used wisely, become concepts for the advancement of mankind.
~David J. Maysilles President,
Kurn Hattin Homes Board of Trustees