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Harold Roy Pratt, "A Brilliant Mind"

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Harold Roy Pratt, "A Brilliant Mind"
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8/6/2020 3:55:27 PM
Historical People
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Robert Underhill
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From The Red and White Commencement Issue, Rutland High School June 1927:

Quiet and unobtrusive, Harold was endowed with a brilliant mind which he has used to advantage.  Annapolis is his next step.

Harold Roy Pratt was born in Clarendon Nov. 29, 1909 to Roy Elias Pratt (1884 - 1952) and Harriet (Alwill) Pratt (1880 - 1937). He was an only child and in 1918 his parents divorced.  Harold and his mother moved to Rutland where she took a job as a bookkeeper.  In 1921 Harriet took Roy to court trying to force him to pay the agreed upon $5 per week child support.  Roy had remarried in 1919 and began a 2nd family in Clarendon that grew to include 4 more children.  Numerous Rutland newspaper articles mentioned Harold in the 1920's and 30's but none ever mentioned him being Roy's son.  They  instead noted he was Harriet's son or the nephew or grandchild of Harriet's Alwill relatives.  It appears Harold may have grown up apart from the extended Pratt family.  

In addition to being a good student Harold was active in various school and outside activities during his high school years.  He was in the Lincoln Chapter, Order of DeMolay which is a subset of the Masons for young men 12 - 21.  Harold was a speaker for Patriotism Day during National Education Week.  He achieved Star Scout status in the Boy Scouts and attended the Older Boys of Vermont conference that was sponsored by the Y.M.C.A.

In January 1927 Senator Frank L. Greene nominated Harold as the alternate to Harry Holden's nomination to the US Naval Academy.  Harry was accepted into the Naval Academy leaving Harold to then chart a different life course.  It appears Harry & Harold were good friends as their names were often mentioned together.  In their high school commencement publication there was a Class Prophecy section which wrote humorous news stories set at some unspecified future date.  For Harold & Harry it said:

Harold Pratt and Harry Holden having graduated from Annapolis are in the navy now.  They can't decide whether to resign from the navy and embark on the stormy sea of matrimony with Beatrice Ingalls and Ruth Hatch or continue their present state of unwedded bliss

For Harry that new path began with the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture in NYC which is unique amongst US colleges. It is tuition-free to US citizens, the only academic course offered is a double major in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, all classes are taught by professors (no teaching assistants), and each incoming class is limited to no more than 25 students. Only the best get in.  The school relocated to Glen Cove on Long Island in 1945 and is now known simply as the Webb Institute.  Harold graduated in 1932 and went on to get a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Harvard in 1934. 

Just days after graduation from Webb, Harold applied for a Seaman's Protection Certificate.  Those certificates historically served in a passport-like manner intended to prevent American sailors from being commandeered by foreign powers.  This wasn't his first round as a sailor.  We know he sailed to at least German in 1932.  Harold's application can be seen below.  Upon graduation from Harvard Harold went to work for the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company at Kearny, NJ

By 1937 Harold was living in Chester, PA which is on the Delaware River just south of Philadelphia.  His mother followed him there and died in May of that year due to diabetes. She was buried in the Laurel Glen Cemetery in Cuttingsville. It was in Pennsylvania that Harold was assigned a Social Security #.  

In 1940 we find Harold living in Winthrop, MA working for the American Bureau of Shipping.  In 1942 he is still with the same organization but living in Portland, ME. 1943 finds him living in Panama City, FL still with the American Bureau of Shipping and getting married in Alabama to Barbara Semple (1918 - bef. 1973) of Melrose, MA.  He and Barbara had 4 children, the 1st born in Florida, 2nd in Massachusetts, and the 3rd in Belgium (where they had lived for a period).

In 1949 we find Harold in Oregon where he was named to the Board of Governors for the Columbia River Society.  Harold died in 1975 in Edmond's, WA.  His career also took him to at least Sturgeon Bay, WI and Denmark.  A Green Bay, Wisconsin news article after his death (below) provides additional detail about his noteworthy career.  An obituary has not been found for Harold or Barbara, nor a record of where they were buried. 

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