While the memory of the Industrial Age and its thrumming mills and factories along the Merrimack River has largely faded, the impact of one pioneer in Newburyport manufacturing lives on, strengthening care in the community. Milton L. Dodge (1892-1975) was an inventor of shoe machinery, and before that, helped manage the Dodge Brothers Shoe enterprise, which helped elevate Newburyport to the position of a national industry leader a century ago. Milton, who graduated from Yale University in 1914, amassed 85 patents in his lifetime. Prior to his death, Milton established a trust, directing a gift of approximately $300,000 to support Adult Psychiatric Services at Anna Jaques Hospital (AJH)—a remarkably generous and forward-thinking bequest.
John Dodge, an accomplished journalist, is committed to honoring his grandfather’s memory. Like Milton, he is a supporter of AJH. “My grandfather believed in hard work, while also being sympathetic to challenges others could be facing,” says John. “After a lifetime of achievements, my grandfather prioritized giving back to his community and supporting those in need.” John recalls how Milton shouldered many responsibilities in his family’s business. In the 1930s, he picked up the pieces after a devastating fire destroyed the Dodge Brothers factory and several nearby homes. And three years later, Milton experienced the loss of his father, Chauncey, who started with Dodge Brothers in the 1880s with his brother, Harry.
It is John’s belief that as his grandfather fought his way through these myriad pressures and trials, he developed a deep understanding of others who face personal challenges. This empathy for friends and neighbors led to his bequest. “My grandfather was a longtime supporter of Anna Jaques Hospital and its unique role addressing care and wellness needs locally,” says John, who also supports AJH. “I remember him attending many meetings there and leading multiple building campaigns. I also remember my excitement as a young boy watching the first hospital wing being constructed across the street from my family home.”
The Milton L. Dodge Trust gift is especially valuable to the community at this time when mental health is a nationwide concern. At AJH, bold new initiatives are moving ahead thanks to this bequest, along with growing participation from other philanthropic supporters. The hospital is converting Emergency Department space, enlarging treatment areas, and dedicating behavioral health staff to expand access to high-quality mental health services closer to home. “Anna Jaques Hospital is addressing care in substantial ways by prioritizing mental health, which is often overlooked in our country,” says John. “I am proud to honor my grandfather’s memory by continuing the Dodge family legacy of supporting our community hospital’s efforts. He helped me appreciate how fortunate we are in the Newburyport area to have a wonderful local hospital to turn to whenever we are in need.”
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