Well Known Websterites
Over the Years
May 22, 1862 - March 3, 1932
Not that William Holden, but an earlier actor who also took the name. He was born, Willis Chester Holt in Rochester, NY and was a cousin of Luther Emmett Holt. Despite his relative obscurity, Holden worked with the likes of Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Cecil B. DeMille.
Mr. Holden died in 1932 and is buried in West Webster Cemetery.
Maj. Donald Walter Holleder
August 3, 1934 - October 17, 1967
Imagine stepping out onto the field before a passionate crowd of Army football fans to take up the position of quarterback, a position you've never played before. That is what Donald Holleder was called upon to do his senior year at West Point. It wasn't his skills as a passer that put him in the spotlight, it was his skills as a leader that his coach believed in. Army went on to defeat their arch-rivals, Navy that season propelling Holleder's image to the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.
Despite being chosen by the New York Giants in the NFL draft, Hollederer elected to pursue a military career, rose to the rank of Major and volunteered for duty in Vietnam. It was in Vietnam he was killed selflessly attempting to rescue soldiers who were caught in an ambush.
Holleder was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 2012.
Luther Emmett Holt
March 4, 1855 - January 14, 1924
Long before there was a Dr. Spock or a Dr. Phil, there was Dr. Holt.
Born and raised in Webster, New York on his parent's farm, Dr. Holt grew up to become the most prominent pediatrician of his day.
Aside from his duties as chief physician at New York's Babies' Hospital (1888-1924) and his role as professor at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Holt published books on the care of children. His best known works were The Care and Feeding of Children (1894) and Diseases of Infancy and Childhood (1896).
The Care and Feeding of Children was by far the most successful child care manual of the first half of the 20th century, with 75 printings and 12 editions.
Dr. Holt was also one of the founding members of the American Society of Pediatrics and was the Society’s president in 1897 and 1922. He was also a founding editor of the first two U.S. pediatric journals, The Archives of Pediatrics and American Journal of Diseases of Children.
Holt Family History
From the Webster Herald's July 26th 1940 and August 2nd, 1940 additions.
Asa Kent Jennings
September 20, 1877 – January 27, 1933
At the time of his graduation from the Webster Union Free School in 1899, few could have imagined the remarkable life that was before Asa Kent Jennings. After all, Asa was not in the best of health and his ambition was to become a methodist minister. Most would probably imagine him preaching to a small congregation in a sleepy little town somewhere in upstate New York. For a time, that destiny may have been true, however events half a world away would eventually alter Asa's path.
World War One erupted and drew the United States into the frey. To do his part, Asa joined the Red Cross and served in France until the close of the war. His experiences with the Red Cross eventually led him to a position with the YMCA.
The war drew to a close but much of the world was still in chaos. Asa's work sent him to Smyrna which at the time was largely a christian city on the western coast of Asia-Minor. Call it bad luck or destiny, 14 days after Asa and his family arrived in Smyrna, The Turkish army invaded the city. The Greek army quickly withdrew leaving 350,000 Greek, Armenian and Jewish refugees trapped with no way out. The sea was to their west and the approaching Turkish army to their east. Homes were looted and set ablaze, while many were raped, tortured and killed. Scores of others drowned trying to reach foreign vessels anchored near by. American and British warships were stationed off the coast to pick up their own fleeing citizens, but as neutral parties they were forced to stay clear of any additional involvement.
Asa sent his family home but remained behind to see how he could assist with the situation. He arranged for food supplies to be brought in to feed the refugees. Despite the danger, Asa was determined to prevent the impending massacre and at great risk to his personal safety traveled through the combat zone to arrange a meeting with Ataturk, the imposing and much feared Turkish leader. Amazingly, Asa was able to convince Ataturk to allow the refugees to leave Smyrna but was only given 11 days to find them a safe passage out of the country.
Asa contacted the Greek Government to encourage them to provide ships to pick up the refugees. The Greek government showed little enthusiasm for Asa's request and were quite puzzled as to who he was. As Asa appeared to be the only American left in Smyrna, it wasn't much of a stretch for Asa to identify himself as the top American official in Smyrna. After much persistence and threats to expose the Greek government's inaction, the Greek government cabled that they were putting Asa in charge of 26 of their ships. Asa directed the ships into port under American flags and picked up the refugees within the 11 day window.
Word of Asa's deeds reached other ports along the coast. Radio requests were made from those ports for their refugees to be helped. Asa spent much of the next year directing an expanded fleet of 55 ships to ports from the Black Sea to Syria. Over that year, Asa and his crews retrieved over 1.2 million refugees, many of whom would have faced certain death if they remained in Turkey.
Asa gained the respect of both the Greek and Turkish governments so after completing his time at sea both governments used Asa to help negotiate prisoner exchanges between the two countries.
Asa stayed in Turkey following the conflict and helped to establish an organization similar to the YMCA, called "The Friends of Turkey".
Pictured above is Roger Jennings, Asa Jennings grandson. Roger Jennings can be seen discussing his grandfather on the trailer for a planned movie about Asa Jennings' life.
Azalia Emma Peet
September 3,1887 - September 21, 1973
Azalia Peet was a methodist missionary and teacher who spent much of her life educating young children in Kushikino, Japan.
Azalia was the granddaughter of Silas and Eliza Peet, whose farm, "Peetacres" was on the corner of Five Mile Line Rd. and Ridge Rd. and her Uncle Wilbur Peet, was the pastor of West Webster United Methodist church between 1909 and 1911.
While in Japan, she kept in touch with folks back home through several letters published in the Webster Herald.
Forced home at the outbreak of World War II, Azalia moved to the west coast and lived in internment camps with Japanese-Americans in Oregon and Washington in order to assist them. During 1942 hearings conducted in Portland, Oregon before the House Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration (also known as the Tolan Committee), Azalia was the lone non-Japanese person to speak out against the internments.
"These are law-abiding, upright people of our community, What is it that makes it necessary for them to evacuate? Have they done anything? Is there anything in their history in this area to justify such a fear of them developing overnight?"
Following the war, Azalia returned to Japan in 1946 and with the help of friends in Webster collected clothing and other items that could assist Japanese citizens hard hit by the war. Due to her efforts, she was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure (5th class) by the Japanese government.
A 1910 graduate of Smith College, Azalia left her extensive collection of photographs, correspondence, diaries, memorabilia, and speeches to the school.
Azalia died in 1973 and is buried in West Webster Cemetery.
If you stroll down Park Avenue in the Village of Webster it's still easy to imagine the sound of a saxophone being practiced in a nearby home. After years of nurturing, Frances Scharett took her musical talents on the road to New York, Europe and Asia, but always found her way back home. At the age of 21, Fran went to Hollywood as a member of Phil Spitalny's All Girl Orchestra to perform in the 1942 film When Johnny Comes Marching Home. The Orchestra toured regularly and could be heard on the radio most Sunday nights during "The Hour of Charm."
Fran left Spitalny's Band at the end of 1942 and joined D'Artega’s All-Girl Orchestra. The band traveled all over Europe and the South Seas entertaining troops during and after World War Two as part of the USO. In 1948, while touring with a 7 piece all female band called "The Chordettes", Fran's parent's Park Avenue home became their rehearsal studio.
In the years that followed she performed with the Chuck Lawrence Big Band, the Ladies First Jazz Big Band and directed the Suburban Serenaders for 22 years and performed regularly at Buffalo's famed Colored Musician's Club. In 2003, Fran was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.
WEBSTER MUSEUM AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY
18 Lapham Park Webster, New York 14580 585.265.3308