UPDATED, Jan. 26: Through history, people from Boston and Cambridge offer long résumés of achievement, but come closer to home: Look around Arlington, and consider the accomplishments of those who have lived here.

Two town writers have done that and recorded the results in a new book.

Barbara Goodman and Marjorie Howard have compiled Legendary Locals of Arlington, just produced by Arcadia Publishing

Among the more than 100 Arlington luminaries pictured are Peg Spengler, who helped shape town government; James McGough, whose dream of a Cyrus Dallin museum came true; and dentist George Franklin Grant, the first African-American on Harvard's faculty, who invented the golf tee.

Goodman, who has lived in town for three decades and served on the School Committee for 12 years, had just retired from teach and had completed a writing course at Tufts when the publishing opportunity came up.

"I was impressed with a town shaped by so many volunteers," she said in an interview. From the book, she named Elsie Fiore, long an environmental force in East Arlington; Patricia Fitzmaurice, credited with rescuing from demolition the Old Schwamb Mill; and Jack Bowler, who went door to door to raise money for an effort to combat domestic violence.

Marjorie Howard'Sometimes, one thing led to another.'
Marjorie Howard
Barbara Goodman'How to get the photos was a story in itself.'
Barbara Goodman

Howard, a former reporter at the Boston Herald and writer for Tufts University, found many who are "not household names but have accomplished amazing things." She found so many, in fact, "there could a volume 2."

Want to know what legendary Arlingtonions, present and past, look like? The 128-page book brims with photos.

Indeed, "how to get the photos was a story in itself," Goodman said. After finally contacting down Mark J. Sullivan, a native named director of the Secret Service in 2006 and retiring in 2013, he sent a photo of himself that included former President Clinton and then-Pope Benedict.


Tracking down Bob Frankston, who helped invent the spreadsheet when he lived in Arlington, was tough, until she dug around on Facebook and found a mutual acquaintance.

"What a hoot!" she said of resolving photo mysteries, sounding as if the experience may have topped balancing school budgets.

The project, which took most of a year, until last June, involved the surprise of discovery. "Sometimes, one thing led to another," Howard said. In talking to Jane Howard (no relation), among the founders of Vision 2020, a volunteer network aimed at improving the town, she learned about Mildred Dresselhaus, a neighbor.

The renowned scientist at MIT proved an engaging find: She is known for her work in carbon, leading to the field of nanotechnology.

As a School Committee member from 1993 to 2005, Goodman said: "So many people I knew but didn't take time to sit down with. With the book, she found the time and learned so much more about Pat Tassone. The man in charge for music for Arlington Public School revealed other, operatic dimensions captured in his story.

Their book is supported in part by a grant from the Arlington Cultural Council, which is supported by the state cultural council.

Where to learn more

Now the two friends are off to tell you all about what they have published. Catch up with them at these locales:

    • Book cover: Legendary Locals of ArlingtonMenotomy Grill, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2 to 4 p.m.;
    • Kickstand Cafe, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 7:30 to 9 p.m.;
    • Arlington Historical Society, Thursday, Dec. 17, 7 to 8:30 p.m.;
    • Old Schwamb Mill, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2 to 4 p.m.;
    • Book Rack. Sunday, Dec. 20, 3 to 5 p.m.;
    • Menotomy Beer & Wine, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 6 to 8:30 p.m., wine-tasting;
    • Dallin Museum, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2 to 4 p.m.; 
    • Robbins Library, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m.; and
    • Barnes & Noble book-signing, Burlington, Saturday, Jan. 30, noon to 3 p.m.

Want to get the book? Click here >>

Learn more at www.legendaryarlingtonma.com

This report was published Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, and updated Jan. 28.

Marjorie Howard is the wife of YourArlington Publisher Bob Sprague, who is included in the book.