Secretary of the American Water Works Association for Twenty-Three Years Passes Away in Troy—Made Secretary Emeritus Last Year

JOHN M. DIVEN is dead. The Grand Old Man of the water works profession passed away suddenly on the evening of Sunday, January 4. While he had been ailing for about three months and was confined to his home under care of a physician his death was entirely unexpected. He was about the house as usual and about 8 o’clock in the evening he complained of feeling unwell and decided to rest. His symptoms becoming alarming, Mrs. Diven summoned a physician, but Mr. Diven failed to respond to mediual treatment and expired before 9 o’clock. The cause was given as arterio sclerosis.

The Late John M. Diven, Secretary Emeritus, American Water Works Association

Mr. Diven was horn in Elmira, N. Y., on April 24, 1852. His long and honorable career as a water works man began in November, 1873, when he was appointed office assistant in the Elmira, N. Y., Water Works Company. In 1875 he assumed full charge of the office as secretary and treasurer of the company, gradually assuming the outside work and superintendency, and in 1886 he accepted the position of superintendent, which he held until January, 1905, when he went to Charleston. S. C., as superintendent of the Charleston Light and Water Company. He relinquished this position after seven years’ service, when he was appointed superintendent of the bureau of water of Troy, on February 1, 1912. Mr. Diven resigned from the superintendency of the Troy department in August, 1919, when it was decided that he was to devote his entire time to the American Water Works Association as its secretary. He was again appointed superintendent of the Troy water works in December, 1923, which post he held until the day of his death.

One might truthfully say that the American Water Works Association has been Mr. Diven’s life work. His connection with the association began four years after its formation when he became a member in April 16, 1884. His first election to office occurred at the Louisville convention, April 16, 1889, when he was made secretary. He served in this capacity until the Philadelphia convention, when he was, on April 16, 1891, chosen as president, and served for one year. At the second Chicago convention of the association on June 10, 1902, on the death of Peter Milne, the then secretary, Mr. Diven was again chosen for that office, combining with it that of treasurer. In 1913, at the Minneapolis convention the two offices were separated and Mr. Diven was retained as secretary. This post he held until last year when he retired and the post of secretary-emeritus was created for him. He however remained in active harness until the day of his death and during 1924 attended several meetings of sections, doing much work in stimulating the increase of membership.

Mr. Diven’s retirement as active secretary was made the occasion of an event unique in the annals of water works history. This was in the form of a testimonial dinner given to him at the Hotel Astor, on the evening of Monday, May 19, 1924, during the forty-fourth annual convention in New York City. The toastmaster was Beckman C. Little, superintendent of the Rochester, N. Y., water works, and the then president of the association, George W. Fuller, strongly eulogized Mr. Diven and spoke of the splendid work which he had done during the time of his long service as secretary of the association. He stressed the fact that not only in work done but also in financial assistance when the association was at its lowest ebb, had Mr. Diven served it during his career as an officer. Mr. Fuller also referred to the work which Mrs. Diven had done as assistant to the secretary and of the great help she had been to Mr. Diven in his labors for the association. Other speakers on this occasion were D. F. O’Brien, Dabney H. Maury. Col. Merritt H. Smith. Following these addresses, which were highly laudatory. James H. Caldwell stepped to Mr. Diven’s side and presented him with a handsome purse containing seven one thousand dollar bills as a loving tribute from the association to him for his long service. Mr. Diven made an eloquent reply, when he had recovered his composure, but with the disclaimer that he did not deserve any such gilt. The banquet ended by all rising and joining in the singing of Auld Lang Sync.

Mr. Diven s association activities were by no means confined to his own organization, but he was a familiar figure at the conventions and meetings of the New England and the other smaller water works associations and invariably took part in the discussions.

Mr. Diven s funeral is to he held from his late residence, 18 Collins Avenue, Troy, N. Y., on Thursday afternoon, January 8, at 2:30.

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