George Waddell
By Dr. William E. Buckley, A New England Pattern
excerpted by Jim Hall

Changes in Town Government

By 1905 it had become apparent that some changes were needed in the structure of local government, and a committee of fifteen was appointed by a town meeting in March to draw up plans for improving the system. Two years later, April 1907, that committee reported, its recommendations were approved, and the town's representatives in the legislature were instructed to secure the passage of an act incorporating them. The legislature agreed, subject to a referendum. The voters ratified the action in October by a vote of 830 to 371.

Under the new arrangement there was no longer a first selectman who was paid a considerable salary and possessed extensive powers granted by law or custom. [Now] there was a chairman of the board, who presided at meetings and acted as ceremonial head of the town government, for which duties he was paid $200 a year while the other members received $100, all subject to a deduction for each meeting the member missed. Consequently it became necessary to have some full-time official to act as agent for the board, and a clerk was named for this duty. George Waddell, who had been elected town treasurer in 1919, was appointed to this position also. George soon became, in practice, a town manager of unusual effectiveness, one phase of which was the ability to convince the selectmen that they originated his policies and ideas.

In 1946 another charter created the position of general manager, to which Mr. Waddell was immediately appointed. This time the town adopted the council-manager form of government. Nine members, called directors in adaptation of business terminology, and elected at large, made up the council. To this body were transferred many of the functions of the town meeting, which was abolished. The directors appointed the general manager for an indefinite term drew up the budget, fixed the tax rate and passed local ordinances.

George Waddell served as town manager for more than thirty years, until his death in December, 1951. Between 1920 and 1946 he did the work of a manager without the title. During World War II Manchester set up a Civilian Defense Committee under Mr. Waddell, this in addition to his duties as town manager. From 1946 to 1951 he had the title as well as the duties of the position. He had a phenomenal memory. From his seat on the platform at town meetings he answered most of the questions addressed to the selectmen, occasionally erupting into a burst of figures of appropriations, expenditures and dates which dazzled the meeting and reduced the questioner to astonished silence. He seemed to store in his mind every detail of the town's business. He remembered names. He liked people and dealt with them with a combination of tact, skill and friendliness. His smoothing of ruffled feathers of citizens who came to enter complaints made the complainers friends who left his office convinced of his sincere interest in them and his willingness to remedy their grievances if it was possible. The town knew and trusted him, and his death in 1951 after a brief illness was sincerely mourned.

The Waddell School, opened in September 1952, was named after this outstanding Manchester citizen and civic leader. A copy of the brochure for the School's dedication ceremony, held on October 4, 1953, can be found in this website by clicking here.