When Leo Sevinor was growing up in Chelsea during the 1930s, his late father Ralph Sevinor purchased one of the last remaining farms in Marblehead.
That farm spread from Wares Pond almost to Tent’s Corner, where the Marblehead Bank is located today.
From the 1940s until the late 1960s, the Sevinor Family and Leo, primary among them, built almost 500 residential homes on streets named Leo, Ralph, Sheldon and Sevinor Road, in addition to another 10 streets along the length of Humphrey Street.
What is today called the neighborhood of Clifton is, in reality, a Sevinor legacy to the great out-migration from the Chelsea’s of this world after the war, to the perceived better life in Marblehead during a time in our national history when suburbs like Marblehead grew as part of the Great Generation’s desire to get married and to start their families and to cap off this aspect of the American Dream with a single-family home.
Leo Sevinor made that dream come true for generations of Marbleheaders.
He lived the full limit of that dream himself, settling in Marblehead a few years after he returned from the war, in a home he built and brought up his family in that home.
“My father was a loyal, loving, honorable and devoted mensch,” said his daughter Ruthann Kelfer.
“He was the most honest man I have ever known with a strong work ethic and belief in God,” said his son, the noted plastic surgeon, Dr. Sheldon Sevinor.
The homes built by Leo Sevinor have stood the test of time. The Marblehead of today is a far different place than when his father first came to town and bought the farm.
Leo Sevinor, for many, many years, was a well-known and highly respected member of the Marblehead community. Loyalty above all was one of his guiding principles in a long life. This is especially true when it came to his relationship with Lucille, his wife of 71 years.
Mr. Sevinor died Friday morning, March 16, surrounded by family following a lengthy period of residence at the Woodbridge Assisted Living Facility in Peabody.
He was 95.
Leo Sevinor was born and raised in Chelsea. He was a 1935 graduate of Chelsea High School. He attended Massachusetts College of Pharmacy but left before graduating to help his father in the building of homes.
He married in 1941 but was shortly thereafter drafted into the United States Army where he served as an infantryman and sharpshooter in the Philippines and for a short while at Corregidor when that part of the archipelago was liberated by US forces under the command of General Douglas MacArthur.
In all, he served five years in the Army and received numerous medals including the Philippine Liberation Ribbon and the Bronze Service Star.
“Those five years he gave to the war effort was a seminal moment in his life. He was away from my mother for five years,” said Dr. Sevinor.
“My father was an extraordinary patriot. To him, the United States of America was the world’s greatest hope and nation,” he added.
Late into his life, and long after Marblehead had been built up into the place it is today, Mr. Sevinor opened a True Value Hardware Store on Smith Street. Through hard work and effort, that store became a thriving business place that he held onto until he retired in his early 70’s.
In retirement he spent half his time in Florida and half at his home in Marblehead.
“After he retired, my father’s life was a total devotion to his kids, to their kids and then to his great grandchildren, whom he loved and adored,” said Dr. Sevinor. “He was there for us, always. No matter what we needed or what we sought or what our dreams were, he was there for us,” he repeated. “It was a full-time job for him.”
Mr. Sevinor is survived by his wife Lucille, his children, Dr. Sheldon Sevinor, Ruthann Kelfer and her husband Robert; Ralph Sevinor and his wife Meryl, Gary Sevinor and his wife Lydia; and his grandchildren, Cara Fineman and her husband David Sobol, Jared Sevinor and Jordan Sevinor, and his great grandchildren, Alexa, Dylan, Gavin Sobel. He also leaves a brother Phillip Sevinor.