A pride of place

A champion for his beloved city’s heritage

By Katheleen Conti
Globe Staff / October 10, 2010

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NEWBURYPORT — No one would be more pleased that Newburyport is pushing to be officially recognized by the Coast Guard as its birthplace than the late George A. Cashman.

It was Cashman who did the legwork in the late 1950s and 1960s to ensure that Newburyport’s place in history was recognized, said his daughter Suzi, one of his nine children.

Suzi Cashman has fond memories of her father’s quest during that period of her childhood.

“I went with him to Washington in the 1960s and met with Congressman [William H.] Bates and had our pictures taken at the steps of the Capitol,’’ she said. “My father went and talked to all the congressmen about Newburyport. It was his passion.’’

Cashman was raised in Newburyport, was a World War II Navy veteran, and devoted his life to civic work and volunteerism. At one point he chaired the Newburyport Economics Com mission. He was regional director for the state Department of Social Services in Haverhill.

He initiated and chaired the city’s first Yankee Homecoming festival in 1958, publicly cast the spotlight on Newburyport’s legacy by dedicating that inaugural event to the Coast Guard.

His tenacity led to a congressional joint resolution and then a proclamation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 declaring Newburyport the birthplace of the Coast Guard.

The US Post Office also issued a postcard commemorating the Coast Guard’s 175th anniversary in Newburyport in 1965. In 2008, state legislators passed a resolution recognizing Newburyport as the birthplace.

Now, Newburyport officials are seeking official Coast Guard recognition, as well as applying to become a Coast Guard City.

“He would be thrilled,’’ Suzi Cashman said of her father, who died in 2006. “As one of my brothers put it at the funeral, the two things he loved more than his wife were Holy Cross College and his Newburyport. He was part of the fabric of the city.’’

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