Norman F. Hadley

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Norman Fisher Hadley (American, 1900-1968) Western New York advertising and dimensional display designer, consultant and painter. Norman Hadley was born in Hoboken, Hudson, NJ on June 12, 1900 to Byron Hadley (1861-1931) and Agnes L. (née Beam, sometimes mislisted as Bearn) Hadley (1867-1921) who were married on June 2, 1888 in Hoboken, NJ. They had a large family and children included: Ethel May, Walter Byron, Arthur Jefferson, Grace, Milton, Raymond Milton, Norman Fisher, Alfred Dillon, Harry Ellsworth and Theodore Roosevelt. The family later moved to Middletown, NY where his father Byron worked as a principal machinist at the Gardner-Harvey Paper Company. The family eventually settled in Lockport, NY.


During WWI, Norman Hadley served in the U.S. Marine Corp. in France with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). After three months at Paris Island he was sent to France on March 13, 1918 with the Second Replacement Overseas Battalion of the US Marine Corps. He went to Brest, France then the German city of Koblenz and finally with the 5th regiment to Verdun, France. After thirteen days of fighting he was wounded by a high-explosive shell causing temporary blindness. He recovered and rejoined his AEF unit to fight in the historic Battle of Château-Thierry on May 18, 1918. Having been wounded in battle, Hadley received an honorable discharge on July 13, 1918.


After the war, Hadley resided in Lockport, NY and studied at the Albright Art School in Buffalo, NY, graduating in 1923. He did post-graduate work at the Art Students’ League of NYC and began working as a commercial artist. On September 29, 1923, Norman married Marion Grace (née Bulmore) Hadley (1907-1977) at the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Lockport, NY, after which they resided at 239 Niagara Street in Lockport, NY. In 1925, they moved to Buffalo where they settled and had four children: David Lee Hadley (1927-2007), Norma Caroline Hadley-Weber (1930- ), Willard Ross Hadley (1932-1998) and Doris Carol Hadley-Guenther (1934- ). Buffalo NY residences have included: 45 Rodney Avenue as well as 41 Greenfield Street and later at 50 Greenfield St.


Hadley became art director for the Worley & Dietrich Advertising Agency in Buffalo and later accepted a position as art director in May 1927 for J. Walter Thompson advertising and marketing company in NYC. From 1928-1932, he worked as art director and sales manager for the Windo-Craft Display Service, Inc. in Buffalo, NY. In 1932, he bought International Displays, forerunner to his own company, Norman Fisher Hadley Advertising Displays, which he founded that same year. It was located at 7231 Seneca Street, and later moved in June of 1948 to their 631 Fargo Avenue location in Buffalo, NY (aka Hadley Display Co., Hadley Displays of Buffalo, and now Hadley Exhibits, Inc.). The company creates displays and exhibits for regional manufacturers, expositions, tradeshows and museums.


Hadley became president of the Niagara Frontier Industrial Advertisers Association in 1951 and was elected president of the national Exhibit Designers and Producers Association, Inc. at its first annual convention in Cleveland, OH in 1955. He was also a member of the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the National Industrial Advertisers Association and the Buffalo Courier-Express Good Fellows. He held patents for self-contained display units which comprised background screens and tables that also formed their own shipping cases. In April, 1961, Hadley’s company was incorporated under the name Hadley Exhibits, Inc. and Hadley’s son David joined the company along with David I. Johnson as partners.


Norman Hadley retired in 1964 to devote himself full-time to painting. Johnson’s son, Ted later joined the company in 1977, and his father David purchased the company in the late 1980’s. The company is currently owned by Ted, his father and sisters. Over the years, the company has been creating and producing high-quality exhibits for museums, zoos and visitor centers and offers a complete range of exhibit-related services including design, detailing, engineering, fabrication, installation, model-making, artifact mounting and project management.


Norman Hadley was a member of the Buffalo Society of Artists (BSA) and was elected to the board of trustees of the BSA in 1950. He also exhibited with the Fine Arts League of Buffalo serving as vice-president, as well as the Associated Art Organizations of Western New York. Hadley studied painting with Richard G. Sigafoos (American, 1908-1985) and exhibited with the Sigafoos’ class at the Prendergast Free Library in Jamestown, NY from October 15-November 1, 1951. He received his diploma from The Famous Artists School in Westport, CT in 1962, which offered correspondence courses. That same year he won the George Inness Prize at the Eighth Annual Exhibition of the Fine Arts League of Buffalo at the Buffalo Museum of Science, later winning the same award in their annual exhibit in 1967 for his painting “Corn Cribs”.


After his retirement in 1964, Hadley gave painting demonstrations around the Buffalo area. In November 1967, he was the guest exhibitor at the Niagara Art Guild’s fall show held at the Niagara County Historical Society. Hadley died on February 24, 1968 at the age of sixty-seven in Buffalo General Hospital, Buffalo, NY and was buried in Acacia Park & Resthaven Cemetery, Tonawanda, NY.


From October 19-November 2, 1969, a memorial exhibition for Hadley was held by family and friends at the Sisti Galleries located at 469 Franklin St., Buffalo, NY that featured over seventy paintings with three later being gifted to the Niagara County Historical Society. These include “Back of Main Street” (Lockport, NY) which won the Bronze Award from the Fine Arts League of Buffalo, “Corner of Market and Main” (Lockport, NY), and “Lox Plaza” (Lockport, NY). From a 1969 Buffalo Currier-Express newspaper article, art columnist D.K. Winebrenner stated about Hadley that he, “…painted with bold strokes or palette knife in sharp contrasts and fine compositions. He was a master in the use of color and whether he painted the subtle differences in the deepening shadows of a late afternoon street scene, or the sunshine and shadow contrasts of early day in a wooded snowscape, his color was always a joy to behold. He loved nature, its various seasons, its rugged giants and delicate plants, and sought it out in the hills and valleys and along meandering paths and streams. He loved and recorded man’s images, too, his boats and barns and bridges. His paintings are his journal and visions of beauty, widely gathered and sensitively kept.”

(Written & compiled by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY, 14052, Sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)