Orville Hubbard

In the 1941 mayoral election, Orville L. Hubbard defeated Clarence Doyle to become Dearborn’s third mayor. Hubbard was elected as a political outsider candidate in the wake of corruption indictments issued against senior members of the police and a city councilmen earlier in 1941.

Orville Hubbard (1903-82) was mayor of Dearborn for 15 consecutive terms, from 1942-78, one of the longest tenures of any full-time U.S. mayor. Born near Union City, Michigan, Hubbard served in the Marine Corps from 1922-25 and graduated from the Detroit College of Law. Settling in Dearborn, he ran unsuccessfully for public office nine times before becoming mayor.

This promotional image of Hubbard was reused many times since his first mayoral election win.

Sometimes labeled a political “boss,” Hubbard was a colorful, controversial figure who won re-election by landslide margins despite a libel judgment, a recall attempt, a grand jury investigation, a governor’s removal hearing, and federal civil rights conspiracy trial. A self-acknowledged segregationist, he periodically gained negative national attention for comments that disparaged African-Americans.

Largely because of disproportionately high property taxes levied against Ford Motor Co. and other businesses, he was able to keep homeowners’ taxes low and still provide what he called “the world’s best public service” while creating Dearborn’s signature facilities-well maintained parks and pools, Camp Dearborn, the Henry Ford Centennial Library, and housing for seniors in Dearborn as well as in a Florida Apartment building. During his tenure as mayor, Dearborn continued to grow in residential, industrial, and retail areas.

Dedication plaque for Hubbard Manor, a local apartment building for senior housing
“Hubbard Hall,” a sign from the interior of Dearborn Towers, a senior housing facility in Florida which has since closed.
One of Hubbard’s many motivational sayings, which would be on display throughout City offices.
Hubbard was also photographed at numerous events with the giant silver key to the City of Dearborn.
Hubbard presenting the key to the City to Christine Jorgensen, a popular transgender actress and singer.
One of hundreds of letters, certificates, and awards given to Hubbard during his time as mayor, this 1977 letter from William Clay Ford on the occasion of Hubbard’s retirement, mentions his gratitude for Hubbard’s “…interest and efforts on behalf of the Edison Institute…”. The letter also awards Hubbard the first ever lifetime pass to the Institute.