John Hopkins Morison leaves lasting legacy in Monadnock region
“He felt strongly it was important to look for ways to contribute to not only the well-being of the company, but the community,” said his son, John Hopkins Morison III of Mont Vernon.
Morison was born in Milwaukee in 1913 and grew up there, summering at the family homestead in Peterborough.
The Morison family is one of the original founders of the town.
He left Milwaukee in 1931 to attend Harvard University. In 1939, he went to Brazil and remained there for 10 years, aside from a two-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Morison was working in South America, but returned to New Hampshire in 1949 when his father asked him to help revitalize manufacturing in southern New Hampshire.
“My grandfather was looking for an opportunity to bring jobs back to southern New Hampshire. The textile mills had closed down in the 1920s,” Morison III said.
As president, Morison took the failing company from bankruptcy and transformed it into a successful investment casting business.
In statements provided by his son Morison said of Hitchiner, “Private ownership has been a key to the company’s growth and, more important, to serving the purpose of which my father and I acquired the company in 1949 – to provide healthy employment opportunities and build a sound economic base in the State of New Hampshire. … We’re here because the region needs strong, stable employers. To run the risk of selling out and having somebody move the business was certainly never part of our game plan.”
And after the company’s attempt to build low incoming housing in Milford failed, the land was donated to the town as open space and is known today as Hitchiner Forest.
Today John Hopkins Morison III continues to run the company as chairman of Hitchiner Manufacturing Co.
In 1998 he moved to RiverMead in Peterborough, a retirement community he played a large role in establishing.
“He was the one that had the original idea for a community like RiverMead in Peterborough. We sold some land as part of that effort,” Morison III said, and Morison served as chairman of the trustees of RiverMead.
As the land was reaching its end as a useful gravel pit, Morison was looking for a way to use the land to benefit the community specifically the seniors of the community, Eaton said.
“That was one of the things that John was struggling with. People that lived in the Monadnock region and they love the region and wanted to stay and age in place,” Eaton said. “There wasn’t any place for them to go in the Monadnock region at the time.”
Construction began in 1993 and was completed at the end of 1995, Eaton said.
“It helped us on the farm cause we were able to sell some land,” Morison said, and today RiverMead generates about $900,000 a year in tax revenue for the town and is a huge job producer in the region.
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