Village Leaders

R. Henry Norweb Jr. - Seventh Mayor of Bratenahl

10316 Brighton Road
R. Henry Norbeb Jr. 1983
R. Henry Norbeb Jr. 1983

R. Henry Norweb Jr. was elected in November 1955 to become the seventh mayor of Bratenahl Village replacing Edward Garfield. He served one term from 1956 through 1957. Previously he was appointed to serve the remaining council term of Nathan Loeser, who resigned in 1949. He served seven years on the council from 1950 through 1955.

The most significant event during Norweb’s term as Mayor was the completion of the Nike Missile Site. The U.S. Government razed the Liberty Holden, Salisbury, and Bole homes. They moved Lake Shore Boulevard south, parallel to the Lakeland Freeway. The old stretch of Lake Shore Boulevard beginning at East 96th Street and terminating at the Army’s fenced perimeter became Holden Lane. The western entrance to the Village, once the most impressive and beautiful, never recovered.

Norweb faced some challenging issues during his short term as mayor. The Village was still struggling financially. The mayor engaged the Urban Land Institute to begin a study for a long-range development plan and address whether Bratenahl could even remain a separate entity.

Mayor Norweb also appointed James Davis to the five-member planning commission to replace Ernest Dempsey. Davis, a relative newcomer to the village, was an attorney and a born leader with an intimidating and brilliant mind. He had moved to Cleveland to head the litigation department of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. Davis brought a new perspective, recognizing that “Bratenahl was a gem that was about to go down the drain.

R. Henry Norweb Jr. was born in a Paris cellar during an air raid on August 19, 1918, during World War I, to R. Henry and Emery May Norweb., while his father was secretary to Ambassador William G. Sharp. He was the great-grandson of Liberty Holden and the grandson of Albert Holden.

Although he referred to Katewood as his childhood home, he grew up in the Netherlands and South America except for 1921 to 1922 when he and his brother and sister stayed with their great uncle, Guerdon Holden, at Loch Hame while his parents were in Japan.

Henry graduated from Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts, in 1936. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Harvard University four years later.

In 1941, Norweb enlisted in the U.S. Army and served with the 107th Cavalry. He went through Officers Training School in Monmouth, New Jersey. After receiving his commission, he studied electronics at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was then assigned to the Caribbean Defense Command. In 1943, he was the assistant ground electrical officer with the Panama Air Depot signal section in the Panama Canal Zone. He achieved the rank of captain before being discharged in 1946.

Henry married Elizabeth “Libby” Gardner in Orono, Maine, in 1944. She was the daughter of Albert and Zelma Gardner of Farmington, Maine.

After the war, they moved to Bratenahl, where his parents had always maintained a home. The Norwebs had three children: Raymond Henry III, born on February 14, 1947, Emery May (Royal), born on July 18, 1949, and Constance Elizabeth, born on April 30, 1952.

Henry worked for WHK Radio in the engineering department and as a salesman. He switched to Enamel Products Co. in 1951 and was named general manager in 1958.

The next year Mr. Norweb became the first executive director of Holden Arboretum, founded by his grandfather, Albert Holden. He guided its development into the largest arboretum in the United States. Volunteer administrators had run the 1,500-acre preserve of plants from across the world since its founding in 1931. Under Mr. Norweb’s leadership, the arboretum expanded to more than 3,100 acres.

Mr. Norweb was honored in 1983 with the Professional Citation from the American Horticultural Society and the Large Gold Medal of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. He was a director of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta and served as chairman and president of the Council on Botanical & Horticultural Libraries. He was chairman of the Visiting Committee of Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia, the Visiting Committee of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. He was a fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society in England.

Norweb was president of the Salvation Army Advisory Board for Northeastern Ohio. He served on the executive committee of the Blossom Site Committee for the Cleveland Orchestra and was a trustee of the Musical Arts Association. He was also a trustee of the Cleveland Audubon Society, Western Reserve Historical Society, Fine Arts Garden Commission, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Play House, Cleveland Society for the Blind, and John Huntington Fund for Education.

He had been a president of the Lake View Cemetery Association and a director of Society National Bank.

Henry’s hobby was collecting coins, with a special interest in Latin America. He was president of the American Numismatic Society.

On June 6, 1995, Henry died following a fall at his home in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Libby died on June 1, 2007, and was buried alongside Henry in Lake View Cemetery.