Rhode Island Genealogy » Biographies » Biography of Farrand Stewart Stranahan, Sr.

Biography of Farrand Stewart Stranahan, Sr.

For more than two decades the firm of Stranahan and Company has been prominent in financial circles of Providence, Rhode Island. As its executive head, Farrand Stewart Stranahan, Sr., guided it with sure hand along the pathway of success. He was a leader in both economic and social progress in this city, supporting all movements which promised to benefit the public and willingly assuming his share in the burdens of community life.

Through his mother, Mr. Stranahan was a direct descendant of Roger Williams, founder of Providence and of the colony of Rhode Island. He was born, however, in St. Albans, Vermont, on May 20, 1869, a son of Farrand Stewart and Miranda Aldis (Brainerd) Stranahan, and of excellent New England stock.

Farrand Stewart Stranahan, the son, was educated in public and private schools, and later entered Harvard, where he took up the study of law for a time. He found, however, that he preferred business to a legal career and entered the field of finance as a clerk in the Welden National Bank of St. Albans, which had been in part controlled by his family for some time. The apprenticeship in finance thus provided prepared Mr. Stranahan for the next economic field in which he labored—the sale of bonds for a 1 New York investment house. This proved a preliminary experience to the establishment of a business of his own in partnership with Joseph Balch. The two men set up a New England branch of the firm of O’Connor and Kahler, and, in 1906, began as partners to operate independently in stocks and bonds. Two years later, in 1908, Mr. Stranahan and his former partner dissolved their association and Mr. Stranahan continued the business alone under the corporate title of Stranahan and Company. His energetic direction so widened the activities of the firm that branches were established in New York, Boston, and Worcester. The company during the twenty-one years of its existence has grown into the confidence of a numerous clientele of high standing, confidence gained and justified by the adherence of Mr. Stranahan and his associates to the fairest principles of strict business dealings. In addition to his connection with this company, Mr. Stranahan had large private interests. He was treasurer of the Metal Textile Corporation of Orange, New Jersey, and of the Useful Products Company of Orange, a director of the Fiscal Bond and Share Company of New York, and vice-president and secretary of the Kendall Manufacturing Company of this city.

With all these major responsibilities, Mr. Stranahan found time for diversified participation in public affairs. While a resident of Vermont, from 1898 to 1900, he was a member of the staff of Governor E. C. Smith, with the rank of colonel. During the World War he was a leader in the drives for government loans and for the Red Cross. He was chairman of the Speakers’ Bureau for Rhode Island in all the Liberty Loan and War Savings Stamps drives, a post for which he was eminently fitted through his long financial experience and his wide acquaintance among men versed in the sale of securities. His contribution in no small degree influenced the splendid showing made by Rhode Island in subscriptions to each issue. Although long a distinguished figure in Rhode Island life, Mr. Stranahan lost none of his fondness for his native Vermont. In 1927, following the disastrous floods in that State, he served as chairman of the Vermont Relief Fund Committee of Rhode Island, and rendered much important service in this capacity for the rehabilitation of the State.

Fraternally, Mr. Stranahan was affiliated with Thomas Smith Webb Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons, and in this order was also a member of Thomas Smith Webb Chapter, Royal Arch Masons and of Thomas Smith Webb Commandery, No. 51, Knights Templar. He was a member, also, of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, second class, and of the following clubs: the Harvard Club of New York, the Harvard Club of Rhode Island, the Turks Head Club, and the Art Club of Providence. Mr. Stranahan was associated with The Players, a local amateur theatrical organization, from the time of its establishment, and at one time was vice-president of the organization. Not only did he appear in many of the amateur productions, but he also directed many of them. Reviews of the plays staged by The Players in recent years referred to him as an intelligent and consistently capable actor who was successful in every role which he undertook. Notable among these was his appearance in “Rosemary” and as the Rev. Frank Thompson in “Outward Bound.”

On June 6, 1894, Farrand Stewart Stranahan married Florence Gertrude Bruce, of St. Albans, Vermont, who died in March, 1926. They became the parents of one son, Farrand Stewart, Jr., who was graduated from Harvard in 1921, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and is now an officer of the Title Guarantee Company of Rhode Island. He married Gwendolyn Gray, and has three children: Noel Ann, Jacqueline, and Gail Fonda.

Mr. Stranahan died at his Providence home on May 30, 1930. He was just sixty-one years old. Word of his death was received with sorrow everywhere throughout the city, and his passing was deeply mourned by his wide circle of friends both in Rhode Island and beyond the borders of the State. At the last services to his memory many distinguished leaders of New England affairs were present, including the Governor and former Governor of Vermont. Others in all walks of life joined in tribute to his name.

Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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