Alfred Hall Meese (1 February 1887 - 16 April 1961) was a Berea College alumnus whose academic achievements led to a career in educational leadership spanning numerous years in various educational institutions.
|Photo of Alfred Hall Meese,
published in the Berea Alumnus
Early Life and Education
Alfred Hall Meese was born on 1 February 1887 in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Meese lived in the OSSO (The Ohio Soldier’s and Sailor’s Orphans’ Home), an orphanage founded by the citizens of Greene County, Ohio and the State of Ohio in 1886, before attending Berea College in 1905. A substantial number of orphans belonging to this home attended Berea College, influenced by T. A. Edwards, then Dean of the Foundation School. Proving to be an excellent student, Meese earned high marks during his time at Berea between 1905 and 1909. He received his A.B. degree from Berea in 1909. Meese served as a one of Dean Edwards’ assistants in the Foundation School, and eventually attended State Normal School at Kent, Ohio, completing a B.S. degree in Education there in 1916. He also studied at Harvard University and received his M.A. degree from Columbia Univ
ersity in 1923.
Meese held a variety of jobs, including secretary to the bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, editor of a prohibition paper in Salem, Oregon, and assistant executive secretary of a social service organization at Red Bank, New Jersey.
Meese served in numerous positions within several different educational institutions, including: principal of a school in Lorain, Ohio (1913-1916), superintendent of Shaker Heights Schools in Shaker Heights, Ohio (1916-1922), assistant executive of Monmouth County, New Jersey, Organization for Social Service (1923-1925), and head of the psychology department at Montclair State Teachers College located in New Jersey (1925-1927).
Not until 1927 did he begin his long lasting career as the head of the North Jersey Training School in Little Falls, New Jersey where he worked for over a quarter of a century with mentally retarded children. The school has been highly successful, both in its local efficiency and its influence on programs throughout the United States.
On 10 May 1953, a testimonial dinner was held in honor of Meese for his twenty five years of service. The dinner was attended by the top political leaders and psychiatric specialists of the state of New Jersey. A tribute was printed on the program for the testimonial dinner saying, “If it is true – as Emerson says – that an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man, then we are sure that behind this institution, the North Jersey Training School, stands a great pioneer – Alfred Hall Meese.”
Meese married Leslie Reece, a former Berea student, in 1915. They had three sons: James, Robert, and David.
Berea College awarded Alfred Hall Meese with an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1953.