Hall of Fame Inductees

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Francis T. Maloney (Benefactors)

1894 – 1945

Two qualities – compassion and common sense – distinguished Francis T. Maloney in his private life and his public career.

Born in Meriden on March 31, 1894, he was educated in the city's schools; served in the U.S. Navy in World War I; operated an insurance agency; was elected Mayor of Meriden for two terms; served in Congress; and was twice elected to the U.S. Senate. He died in office on January 16, 1945.

When Mayor of Meriden in 1931, in the midst of the depression, he reduced taxes while maintaining essential services. He initiated one of the first public works programs in the country, which later became the foundation of the Works Progress Administration.

In Congress he helped create the Securities and Exchange Commission and helped sponsor some great social reforms, notably the Wagner Labor Act and the Social Security Act. He led the fight which defeated President Roosevelt's effort to pack the Supreme Court, thereby preserving the fundamental "checks and balances" of our democracy.

His statesmanship and influence was responsible for Meriden being chosen as the "Ideal City of World War II" for its contribution to the war effort.

He rose to become one of the most distinguished men to serve in the United States Senate, where he became known as the "Senator's Senator."

George Sklar (Art)

1908 – 1988

A driving force in the theater's social drama, George Sklar graduated from Meriden High School in 1925 and from Yale University in 1929.

At the Yale Drama School, from which he graduated in 1931, he wrote Merry Go Round, an attack on Jimmy Walker's administration. Produced simultaneously at Yale and in New York, it caused a sensation, and the theater was closed by Mayor Walker's New York police for "fire violations."

A founder of the Theater Union, a theater devoted to social drama, his play Peace on Earth was its first production.

Stevedore, based on the exploitation of black labor and critically acclaimed as among the best of modern social theater, played in New York and London – with Paul Robeson – and toured the U.S.

And People All Around, translated into French and German, was produced in London and Moscow as well as in the U.S.

Other Sklar works include Parade, Life and Death of an American, The Memory Room, and Brown Pelican, an ecological fantasy. His only commercial venture was the play adaption of Lauro (1946), still performed internationally.

Sklar's novels include Two Worlds of Johnny Truro, Promising Young Men, Housewarming, The Identity of Dr. Frazer, and the newly completed Loyalties.

Famed as a playwright and novelist, he is one of the few Meridenites listed in "Who's Who in America."

Jack Barry (Sports)

1887 – 1961

From the sidewalks and sandlots of Meriden to the major league stadiums of the comparatively new sport of baseball, Jack Barry brought fame and honor to his hometown.

Although he never hit higher than .275, his steady fielding, clutch hitting, and outstanding leadership qualities made him a valuable asset to every team he played on. As a shortstop of the famed "$100,000 infield" of the Philadelphia Athletics, where Manager Connie Mack considered him the glue that held the team together, and later with the Boston Red Sox, he appeared in five World Series.

In 1917 Jack became playing manager of the Boston Red Sox, and under his leadership the team finished a close second in the American League. After a year in the navy, he returned to Boston as a player under Ed Barrow but decided to hang up his spikes after playing 31 games.

After his major league career, Barry returned to his alma mater, Holy Cross, as baseball coach. He was named Baseball Coach of the Year by the Association of College Baseball Coaches in 1952 after his Holy Cross team won the National Collegiate championship.

Lois Felix (Sports)

1927 – 2001

Whether playing on the public courts behind her Bunker Avenue home or competing on the sacred courts of Wimbledon, Lois Felix brought honor to Meriden.

At the age of eleven, she won the Meriden Women's Adult Tennis Championship, played on the old Pleasant Street courts. She repeated the feat the following year.

Then she won the Connecticut State Center Tournament at the age of 15. She graduated from Meriden High School in 1945.

Lois was the winner of the Connecticut and New England Championships in 1954. In the same year she won the Tri-State Championship in Chicago and the Western U.S. Lawn Tennis Association Championship. In 1961 she was voted the "Tennis Pro of the Year" by the New England Lawn Tennis Association.

Always genuinely modest regarding her accomplishments, the records show that she more than held her own against other greats of her day such as Althea Gibson, Doris Hart and Louise Brough. Her career culminated with her being ranked in the number eight position by the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association in 1954.