Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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John Stephenson Pullman died at his home in Bridgeport, on March 31, 1943, after a long illness. His father was the Reverend Joseph Pullman, D. D. (B. A. Wesleyan 1863), a Methodist Episcopal clergyman. His mother was Mary Elizabeth (Cooke) Pullman. He was born in New Haven on February 25, 1871.
He prepared for college at Wilbraham Academy, and from there entered Wesleyan in the class of 1892, where he attained not only a high degree of scholarship but was active in all undergraduate affairs. He was a member of Alpha Delta Phi and Phi Beta Kappa. His attachment for Wesleyan continued to the time of his death; he was one of its trustees from 1922 to 1943, and was secretary of the board from 1925 to 1943. In honor of his long service and his distinguished career, Wesleyan conferred upon him the degree of doctor of civil laws.
After graduation from college, Mr. Pullman taught Greek at Pennington Seminary for one year, but gave up teaching for business in Philadelphia. The following year, 1894, he registered at Yale Law School, and was graduated in 1896 with honors. He was admitted to the Fairfield County bar in the same year and continued in the active practice of law until shortly before his death, practicing as a member of Pullman and Marr (James Marr) 1904-1908; Canfield, Judson and Pullman (Charles S. Canfield and Stiles Judson) 1908-1919; and Pullman and Comley (William H. Comley and Arthur M. Comley) 1919-1943, in which firm were later associated W. Parker Seeley, Governor Raymond E. Baldwin, J. Kenneth Bradley and William Reeves.
Mr. Pullman was prosecuting attorney in the Bridgeport City Court from 1903 to 1907 and judge of the court from 1907 to 1909. From 1909 to 1913 he served as attorney for the city of Bridgeport, and in 1915 became chairman of the committee to revise the Bridgeport city charter.
From 1918 to 1943 he was very active in the affairs of the Bridgeport-People's Savings Bank, serving as a trustee and, for several years before his death, as vice president.
Among his other numerous activities were: Trustee of Bridgeport Hospital, 1921-1943; member of the board of associates of Junior College of Bridgeport, 1936-1943; chairman of Selective Service Board, Division No. 2, Bridgeport, 1917-1919; member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the Bridgeport Bar Association, the State Bar Association of Connecticut, the American Bar Association and the American Law Institute. He served as director or trustee on many boards and was a member of many clubs and organizations.
On November 25, 1905, John S. Pullman and Mary Nickerson Lakin, of Topeka, Kansas, daughter of David Lakin and Mary (Ward) Lakin, were married. Their children are Mary Elizabeth, wife of Major DeWitt Dominick; Alice Lakin, wife of George B. Longstreth; Josephine Lakin, wife of the Reverend Luther Tucker; and John S. Pullman, Jr. In addition to his children, Mr. Pullman left his wife, who died on March 17, 1945, and ten grandchildren.
From the time he came to Bridgeport in 1893, Mr. Pullman was active in the affairs of the First Methodist Church, as treasurer of the board of trustees for many years. He gave very generously to the church, and in the present building the Pullman Memorial Chapel is a gift in memory of his father. In the chapel are the altar rail and the pulpit from which his father preached many years ago. They were brought from the old church and installed in their proper place in the Pullman Chapel.
At his death the board of trustees of the Church expressed the thoughts of his friends as follows:
"Many men live exemplary lives for three score and ten or more years. Not so many live the span allotted to man, making contacts with many groups, having varying interests, and at the same time hold the esteem and good will of all with whom they come in contact. John Stephenson Pullman was one of those rare souls who lived a life with a great diversity of interests, but through it all, made and kept friends, established an enviable reputation for uprightness of character and held the confidence and respect of the entire community."
Mr. Pullman was an outstanding lawyer. A host of friends and clients relied with faith on his advice and counsel. For his profession, his clients, the city and the state in which he lived, its many institutions and organizations, his college and for any who turned to him in need of assistance and wise counsel, he worked with devotion and industry.
He had versatility, wit and good humor which, with his wide experience and extensive associations, made him not only a delightful friend and companion but a commanding figure in any gathering. In his family circle he was undoubtedly at his best, and there he found his greatest delight and gave his greatest inspiration.
Judged by every standard, he was one of Connecticut's outstanding citizens.