Author: Jack Irby Hayes


H. R. Fitzgerald (1873–1931)

H. R. Fitzgerald served as president of the Dan River Mills from 1918 until his death in 1931. Born in Danville the son of T. B. Fitzgerald, one of the company’s founders, Fitzgerald was deaf for most of his adult life. By 1908 he had become secretary-treasurer of Dan River Mills; a decade later he was president of one of the largest cotton mills in the United States. Taking over at a time when the company’s profits were in decline, Fitzgerald instituted scientific management in sales, helped to found a trade association, the Cotton-Textile Institute, and introduced Industrial Democracy, a representative system for airing worker grievances and giving them a limited voice in mill operations. In 1930, Industrial Democracy ceased and about 4,000 mill workers went on strike. Fitzgerald refused offers of mediation from the state and federal governments, and after four months the strikers gave up. Just three and a half weeks later, however, in February 1931, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack, perhaps from the stress of the strike.


Dan Daniel (1914–1988)

Dan Daniel represented Danville in the House of Delegates (1960–1969) and served as representative from Virginia in the United States Congress (1969–1988). Prior to his election to public office, he served as the state and then national commander of the American Legion (1951; 1956), a platform he used to lobby for veterans’ rights and benefits. A conservative whose views on integration aligned with those of United States senator Harry F. Byrd Sr., Daniel supported Massive Resistance and voted in favor of keeping the poll tax. During his nineteen years in Congress, he worked to strengthen national defense, supported United States president Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate scandal, and helped write the Omnibus Anti-Drug Act of 1985. On January 19, 1988, Daniel announced that he would not seek reelection to Congress due to his struggle with heart disease. He died four days later of an aortic dissection at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.