Edgar C. Stiles School
While Edgar Stiles was a devoted educator, he was also very civic-minded. In 1906, he joined the fledgling West Haven Village Improvement Association; this group saw as their mission: town beautification, a shade tree planting program, encouragement of lawns and gardens, and establishment of parks (including Bayview and Shingle Hill parks, on either end of Main Street). There was one other plan that they developed: that there should be an established public library serving West Haven. Stiles took an active role in all of this.
In addition, Stiles was a tireless servant of First Congregational Church. That church was his place of worship, and over the years, he served faithfully on various boards and committees there.
In 1907, Stiles was one of 60 people who established the New Haven Bird Club; immediately, he was elected as its president, and remained in that capacity until 1925. It is interesting to note that quite a few West Haven educators of that day were part of the club during that period: Edith E. Mackrille, Anna V. Molloy, and Alma E. Pagels are names that are recognized by most West Haveners. In addition, there were quite a few teachers: Mabel B. Casner (Washington School), Marjorie Brett (multiple schools including Stiles and Haley School), Helen Hart (Washington School), and Martha L. Sandmeyer (Washington School).
Edgar Stiles remained a bachelor until he was 45 years old. At some point, he began courting an English teacher, Edna L. Morgan, who was originally from Enfield, NH. Each year, they would retreat to her hometown to spend the summer. It was on one of these trips that Edna became ill and passed away in 1932. She was buried there in the family plot.
After Edna’s passing, Edgar Stiles returned to West Haven and the task of managing West Haven’s schools; there were now four times as many schools as when he started as superintendent. One of the new schools was Edgar C. Stiles School, noteworthy in the fact that it was built and dedicated to him while he was alive and still working as school superintendent.
Edgar Stiles was at his New Hampshire summer home when he became ill in 1933. He was rushed back to New Haven and admitted to New Haven Hospital, where they performed two surgical procedures on him. At first his condition seemed to be improving, but then he took a turn, and passed away on Aug. 29, 1933. What followed was one of the largest funerals in West Haven history, as the high and the humble turned out to pay their last respects to a true pillar of the community. Stiles was buried beside his beloved Edna, in the family plot in Enfield, New Hampshire’s Oak Grove Cemetery.
We wish to acknowledge the efforts of John Triana and Katherine Held in the preparation of this column.