Herbert R. Dean was born in Providence on September 8, 1882, educated in local schools and married Nella Wattles with whom he had two daughters. His great grandfather was a sea captain and his grandfather had been a soldier in the Civil War. He began his own military career, which would span 38 years, in 1903 as a member of Troop B, First Battalion, Cavalry Brigade, Rhode Island Militia.
Dean gained a commission as a first lieutenant in 1912 and by 1916 was mustered into federal service as commander of troops at the Mexican border during the uprising led by Pancho Villa.
Dean was made aide-de-camp to Governor Robert Livingston Beeckman in 1917 and then promoted to the rank of major. He was honorably discharged in 1919. As a civilian he worked with Starkweather and Shepley Insurance Company, eventually becoming its president.
Always associated with the military in one form or another, Dean was later commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the Field Artillery Reserve and then as colonel in the Cavalry Reserve.Dean was promoted to Brigadier General of the 68th Field Artillery Brigade in 1927 and named Adjutant General of the Rhode Island National Guard on August 1, 1931 by Republican governor Norman Chase. He was reappointed by Democratic governors Theodore Francis Green, Robert E. Quinn, and J. Howard McGrath.
One of the Camp Yawgoog trails is named the General Dean Trail after the man who was scoutmaster of the first Providence troop in 1910. In addition to the his military duties Dean was a member of the Narragansett Boy Scout Council’s Board of Directors and a president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. He died in 1941 while serving as director of Rhode Island’s Selective Service Board.
–Glenn V. Laxton