Hall of Fame Inductees

See our latest inductees listed below! Click on any inductee's name to learn more.

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James J. Barry (Community Service)

1907 – 2000

The daffodils, the greenhouse and the band shell in Hubbard Park are but three of the many legacies that remain of Jim Barry's 40 year tour as Superintendent of Parks. Born in Meriden in 1907, educated at St. Joseph's school and Meriden High School, he began his career of community service at age 25, during the depths of the depression. He became Superintendant of Parks in 1941, dedicating his life to the beautification of the city until his retirement in 1972. During those years he nurtured the 1,200 acre gift of industrialist Walter Hubbard from not much more than a cow pasture into the city's pride and one of the showplaces of the state.

He used his natural landscaping ability to create striking flower beds in City Park, Brookside Park and Hubbard Park, accenting the natural beauty of these parks with the vibrant colors of petunias, pansies, canna, geraniums, chrysanthemums, and begonias.

In the fall of 1948 he planted 1,000 daffodil bulbs at the edge of the wooded area west of Mirror Lake. Each year thereafter he added thousands more bulbs. This was the beginning of the spectacular display that inspired Meriden's regionally renowned annual springtime celebration, the Daffodil Festival.

Many of the towering Norway Maples and Pin Oaks that beautify and shade our city today were planted under his direction after the demise of the American Elms.

The music shell in Hubbard Park that bears his name was partially financed with earnings from the Hubbard Fund. However, a large part of the project was created with natural materials, donated labor, and an unflagging desire on Jim's part to make the project succeed.

The citizens of Meriden will benefit for many years to come as a result of the efforts of this dedicated public servant.

John Anthony Danaher (Law/Government/Military)

1899 – 1990

John Anthony Danaher was born in Meriden, January 9, 1899, the oldest of four sons of Cornelius J. and Ellen R. Danaher. He attended Meriden High School, Class of 1916, where he met his fellow student Dorothy King. They were married in Meriden in 1921 and celebrated their sixty-ninth wedding anniversary prior to his death. John Danaher graduated from Yale College in 1920 and attended Yale Law School, completing his law requirements and being admitted to the Bar in 1921. He opened an office for the practice of law in Connecticut, and in 1922, he was appointed an Assistant United States Attorney, serving for eleven years. Active in the Republican Party, he was elected Secretary of the State in 1932 and as a United States Senator in 1938. The author Allen Drury described John Danaher as "one of the three or four ablest men" in the United States Senate in 1943. He practiced law in Connecticut and Washington, D.C., also serving as counsel to the Republican Senatorial Committee, Congressional Advisor to the Republican National Committee, Executive Director of the 1948 U.S. Senatorial Campaign and as a Director of Special Activities in the 1952 Presidential Campaign. In 1953, he was President Eisenhower's first appointee to an appellate court, being named a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Circuit of the District of Columbia, serving continually in that position until taking senior judge status in 1969. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Georgetown University in 1979. The citation of that Honorary Degree stated, in part, "as a member of what has been called America's second highest court, his scholarly mind, realistic perception, wide ranging interests, sense of judicial restraint and eloquent pen have played a substantial role in the jurisprudential contribution of a significant period in the history of the federal bench."

Walter (Walt) Solek (Art)

1911 – 2005

Walter (Walt) Solek was born in Meriden in 1911. His father had immigrated to Meriden from Poland and played in a band with all of his brothers. Walt began playing with him as a drummer. As he got older he mastered the accordion, piano and the clarinet.

In 1936 Walt and his brother Henry played in the Krakousta Orchestra. For eleven years, this band delighted the listeners of WTlC. Following this, Walt formed his own nine-piece band, wrote original songs, and recorded for Columbia Records. In 1955, the Solek band was featured in nine movie shorts by Universal Pictures.

Solek's career has been marked by many awards. He was picked by the U.S. Polka Association as the Best Male Vocalist of 1989, the Best Orchestra (1985) by the Polish Club of Poughkeepsie, the Lifetime Award from the U.S. Polka Association for outstanding contributions to the Polka Field. In 1974, Walt was voted into the Polka Hall of Fame in Chicago.

During his years as a band leader, Solek has earned many nicknames: "The Clown Prince of Polkas," "The Polish Spike Jones," and "Jolly Wally" are among them. Since 1947, Solek has hosted the popular Polka Program on WMMW Radio. Solek has truly helped put Meriden on the map.