Physicians, Educators, and Organization Leaders of the Boston-Edison Historic District
Dr. Emil Amberg was born in 1868 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His family emigrated to Germant when he was five, and Emil was educated in Prussia and Westphalia, and received his medical degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1894. He interned in Boston, Massachusetts, and trained further in Vienna and Berlin before moving permanently to Detroit in 1898. There he worked at both Harper and Grace Hospitals, and served as the otologist fot the Detroit Day School for the Deaf. Dr. Amberg was a prolific contributor to medical journals, a amember of multiple professional societies, and worked to establish interstate reciprocity for medical licensure. In 1909 he married Cecile Siegel, daughter of Jacob Siegel. Emil and Cecile Amberg lived at 1244 W. Boston Boulevard from the 1920s through the 1940s, in the same home that Otto Kern lived.
Joseph H. Andries
Joseph Andries was born in 1875 in Milwaukee. His parents soon moved to Detroit, where his father founded two German-language newspapers and where Joseph was educated. He attended the University of Detroit and then studied medicine in Berlin, graduating in 1897. He pursued postgraduate studies in Europe and returned to Detroit in 1899. He joined the staff of St. Mary's Hospital, and was the clinical professor of surgery at the Detroit College of Medicine. Andries married Charlotte Friede in 1903. In addition to his profession, Andries amassed a varied collection of art, including old European Masters. Joseph H. Andries lived at 1241 Edison from the late 1910s through the 1940s.
Wendell F. Cox
Wendell F. Cox was born in 1914 in Georgia. In the same year, his family moved to Charleston SC, where Cox spent his boyhood. He received an undergraduate degree from Talladega College in 1936, then went on to receive a degree in dentistry from Meharry Medical College in 1944. While at Meharry, he met and married Iris Bell of Detroit, daughter of the famous Dr. Haley Bell. After graduation, Cox served in the US Army through the rest of the war, being discharged as a Captain. After the war, Bell moved to Detroit, where he went into practice with his father-in-law. Within a few years, he had opened up his own successful practice in Hamtramck. In the early 50s, Cox and Bell again partnered to work on opening a radio station. In 1956, the two men launched the nation's first Black-owned and operated radio station built from the ground up: WCHB AM (the call letters come from the two men's initials: Wendell Cox, Haley Bell). A few years after, WCHD (later WJZZ) FM was added. Cox, served as Vice President, then General Manager and Chairman of the Board of the Bell Broadcasting Company.
Dr. Cox also sustained a deep connection with Meharry Medical College throughout his life. He served on the Meharry Board of Trustees for 22 years and was elected a Lifetime Trustee in 1989. In 1998, he donated $1.5 million to Meharry in the names of Iris B. and Wendell F. Cox, D.D.S. Wendell F. Cox lived at 1961 Chicago Boulevard beginning in the 1950s.
Albertus Darnell was born in Illinois in 1868, and came to Michigan in 1894 to attend the University of Michigan. After graduation, he began work as a mathematics teacher, first in Bay City and later Detroit, being named head of the Mathematics Department at Detroit's Central High School in 1902. When Detroit Junior College was organized in 1917, Darnell became head of its Mathematics Department. In 1923, Detroit Junior College was replaced by the City College of Detroit,and Darnell was named Assistant Dean. He continued in this position until City College merged with other institutions to become Wayne (later Wayne State) University in 1934, when he was named Dean of the College of Liberal Arts of the new University. Darnell continued in this position until his retirement in 1939. Albertus Darnell lived at 1216 Edison from the eaerly 1910s through the late 1940s.
C. Beth DunCombe
C. Beth DunCombe attended Cass Tech, the University of Michigan, and Georgetown University Law School. In 1974, she went to work for an influential Detroit law firm and eventually made partner. Mayor Dennis Archer appointed her chair and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. During this time, she headed a number of major construction initiatives in Detroit, including Comerica Park, Campus Martius, and the building of the casinos. She resided at 1642 Longfellow, along with her sister, Trudy DunCombe Archer.
Hugo A. Freund, M.D.
Hugo Freund was born in Detroit in 1886. He received his medical degree from the University of Michigan, and in 1909 joined the staff of Harper Hospital. In 1927, Freund became chief of Harper's Department of Internal Medicine; he was also Professor of Clinical Medicine at Wayne State University. He also was a member of the Detroit Board of Health, Detroit Welfare Commission, and the Board of Trustees of Oakland Hospital; and was the president of the Children's Fund of Michigan (established by his good friend James Couzens) and of Child Research Center. Hugo A. Freund lived at 52 Chicago Boulevard from 1916 through the late 1930s.
Dr. James J. McClendon
James McClendon was born in Georgia and graduated from Atlanta University and Meharry Medical College. In Detroit, he spearheaded the NAACP's membership drive, and became president of the Detroit chapter in 1937. He later held a position on the National Board of the NAACP. Dr. McClendon lived at 2341 W. Boston Boulevard from the 1950s through the 1970s, in the house once owned by Arthur F. Tull.
Dr. David C. Northcross
David C. Northcross was born in Alabama in 1915. His parents, both doctors, operated a hospital in Montgomery, but were forced to flee the Ku Klux Klan and moved to Detroit in 1916. In 1917, they opened the first Black-owned and operated proprietary hospital in Detroit, Mercy General Hospital. Northcross grew up in Detroit, and attended the University of Detroit before going to Nashville, Tennessee to attend Meharry Medical College and Fisk University. As a student, he served in WWII with the Medical Corps of the Army; he was later called to serve during the Korean war. After his military service was complete in 1955, Northcross returned to Detroit to help run Mercy General with his mother. He eventually ran the hospital himself, overseeing its operation for over twenty years. David C. Northcross lived at 2314 Longfellow in the 1950s and 1960s.
William H. Oliver
William Oliver was born in Tennessee in 1915 and came to Detroit in the late 1937 as part of a singing group sponsored by Ford Motor Company. When the group was disbanded two years later, he got a job at Ford's Highland Park plant. In 1942, he became the recording secretary for the plant local, one of the first African-Americans to hold such a position. In 1947, Walter P. Reuther appointed Oliver co-director of the UAW's Fair Practices and Anti-Discrimination Department. In 1971, Oliver was named the sole director of the department, and held that post until his retirement in 1980. Oliver also served as vice president of the NAACP National Board. William H. Oliver lived at 1743 Edison in the 1950s and 1960s.
Victor A. Rapport
Victor Rapport was born in 1903. In the 1930s, he took a position as a professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. WWII interrupted his career, and he served in the US Army from 1940-1946, leaving as a major. After the war, Rapport came to Detroit, taking the position as dean of Wayne State University's College of Liberal Arts (the same position held by Albertus Darnell), where he served from 1946 - 1960. Victor A. Rapport lived at 2234 Chicago Boulevard in hte 1940s and 1950s.
Walter P. Reuther
Walter Reuther was born in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1907. After an apprenticeship in tool and die work, he left for Detroit and eventually became a die leader for Ford, but was eventually fired in 1932 for socialist activity. He left Detroit for a while, but eventually returned and became involved in the organized labor movement. By 1937 he was president of the United Auto Workers local and a member of the UAW executive board. He organized several successful strikes against the automotive companies in Detroit.
During WWII, Reuther was instrumental in converting unused automobile factories to the construction of planes. Although he turned down several positions offered him by the Roosevelt White House, he became lifelong friends with Eleanor Roosevelt. Walter Reuther was elected president of the UAW in 1946; in that position he continued to fight for higher wages for automotive workers. Reuther remained president of the UAW until 1970, when a plane crash ended his life.
Walter P. Reuther lived at 2292 Longfellow in the 1950s.
Remus G. Robinson, M.D.
Remus Grant Robinson was born in 1904, and graduated from the University of Michigan with a medical degree in 1930. He spent his career as a surgeon at Grace and Providence hospitals, and as chief surgeon at Parkside. In 1955, Robinson won a seat on the Detroit School Board, the first African-American to do so. He held the seat until his death in 1970, spending much of the time as the Board's president. Robinson also served as president of the Detroit Urban League. Remus G. Robinson lived at 664 Chicago Boulevard in the 1950s and 1960s.
Arthur F. Tull
Arthur F. Tull was born in Kansas in 1880. He completed a course in teaching at the Kansas Central Normal College, then graduated from a business college in Illinois. He taught public school until 1906, at which time he founded the Business Institute of Detroit. In 1913, he assumed the presidency of the Institute. Arthur F. Tull lived at 1610 Edison in the 1920s, then in the 1930s and 40s lined in 2341 W. Boston Boulevard, the same house later owned by Dr. James J. McClendon.
Mary E. von Mach
Mary von Mach was born in 1895, and was the first woman in the state of Michigan to be granted a pilot's license (in 1928), was the first woman to own and operate a plane in the state, and was the first woman accepted at the prestigious Parks Air College in St. Louis, graduating in 1931. During the same year, she became the first woman in Michigan to receive an air transport license, and earned a flight instructor's rating.
She also participated in the first Women's Air Derby, along with Amelia Earhart, flying from Santa Monica CA to Cleveland OH. After the Derby, women pilots organized in a professional group called the "Ninety Nines." Earhart was the first president of the organization, and von Mach established the Michigan chapter in 1934, holding many offices in the organization at both the state and national level. During WW II, von Mach worked as a final inspector for Pratt-Whitney on their B-24 engine line. She later became a saleswoman for a paint company. Mary E. von Mach lived at 829 Chicago Boulevard.
John Taylor Watkins
John Taylor Watkins was born in 1883 in Whitmore Lake, MI. The family moved to Milford and Howell, and Watkins attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 1906. He received his medical degree, again from the University of Michigan, in 1906. He precticed in Dollar Bay for two years before coming to Detroit, where he opened a provate practice specializing in internal medicine. He joined the staff of Grace Hospital in 1914, becoming chief if internal medicin in 1919, He was appointed professor of clinical medicine at the Detroit College of Medicine in 1920. John Taylor Watkins lived at 53 Longfellow from the eary 1910s through the 1940s.