We wanted to give a shout-out to our friend Kevin Jones at A Museum of Black Experiences in Saginaw for opening up the conversation about William H. Haithco, Sr. and the history of his impact on the city of Saginaw by drawing attention to some local signage. You can find the original Facebook post HERE.
“Billy, as I knew him when the city’s western limit ran along Bay Street, was the second of five children and the only son born to William and his wife Lady Mary. The Haithcos were among the few early black families who owned homes on the city’s westside.”
-Fred R. Porterfield, “He Showed the Impact One Can Make.”
The Saginaw News, December 9, 1990.
As we were looking through the 1940 Legenda, we came across the graduation portrait of William H. Haithco. His name is familiar to anyone who has visited the park named after him – or passes by it while traveling on I-675. That said, many may not be aware of William H. Haithco’s career and accomplishments.
Born in Fayetteville, Georgia, Haithco moved with family to Saginaw when he was a child. After graduating from Arthur Hill High School in 1940:
He served in the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II and earned two college degrees, one in physiology and pharmacology at MSU and the other in pharmacy at UM. In 1955, he married Nancy Olivia Fisher of Detroit, They have Three children.”
In 1956, with the help of his father –‘who does’ everything’ – he remodeled an old building into a drugstore at 1800 Wadsworth.
In 1958, he began his career of public service: Two terms on the Saginaw Human Relations Commission; presidency of the Saginaw Breakfast Optimist Club; chairman of the Draft Board Local No. 339; on the board of directors of Saginaw’s Model City program; active in helping form Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission; membership on the Michigan Health Planning Advisory Council, and in 1974, presidency of the Saginaw County Pharmaceutical Association.
When his drugstore was made economically unfeasible by road shifts in 1970, he went to work at Saginaw General. (The Saginaw News, May 15, 1978.)
And that only lists some of the accomplishments up to 1978. At the time it was written, he was a staff pharmacist at Saginaw General Hospital and serving on numerous committees and boards.
When he was named the 1991 Arthur Hill Outstanding Alumnus, the paper noted:
William H. Haithco, remembers his time at Arthur Hill High School as happy days. A member of the class of 1940, Haithco, - who refuses to disclose his age – was one of the first graduates from the ‘new’ Arthur Hill, 3115 Mackinaw.
Today’s students will welcome Haithco home Thursday when they recognize the nationally known pharmacist and community leader as the school’s 41st honor alumnus.
The award comes slightly more than a week before Lake Haithco and the William H. Haithco Recreation Area of Schust in Saginaw Township is dedicated in his name. (The Saginaw News, May 8, 1991.)
In 1991, the William H. Haithco Recreation Area opened to the public, the dedication honored his 30-year commitment to the Parks and Recreation Commission, extraordinary efforts in making the park a reality and his lifelong dedication to the Saginaw community.
When he passed away at the age of 88, The Saginaw News stated, “William H. Haithco Sr. had a dream to unite Saginaw County families in a setting where they could have picnics and enjoy the outdoors without having to drive far.”
For Information about William H. Haithco Recreation Area: https://www.saginawcounty.com/departments/parks-recreation/parks-trails/william-h-haithco-recreation-area/
If you have advertising pieces or a container from Haithco’s drugstore that you would consider donating to the Castle Museum collection, please contact Tom Trombley at 989-752-2861 ext. 304 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org