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 Edward Merion Seay



New York City has long served as a magnet for brilliant, ambitious young people from small towns across America. Edward M. Seay (1901–1978) certainly exemplified this phenomenon, leaping from Denison, Texas, to a place at the center of Manhattan's social whirl.

Ed's father was Dr. Edward Lee Seay (1873–1930), a physician and surgeon who was born in Kentucky after the Civil War. The doctor married Nancy "Nannie" Mathes (1880–1956) in 1898 and was practicing medicine in Denison, Texas, by 1900. Their only child, Ed grew up in the family's comfortable house at 815 West Gandy Street. 

As a boy, Edward M. Seay stands in front of the Seay family home at 815 W. Gandy St., Denison, Texas
This real photo postcard was postmarked January 1909.  It was addressed to Miss Susy Noe, Whitewright, Texas

Source : Collection of Grayson County Frontier Village

The old Seay home at 815 West Gandy Street
ca 2005

He graduated from Denison High School in the Class of 1918. In 1916, he was a member of the staff of the Yellow Jacket (yearbook). Then he studied journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.  He began his writing career as a reporter for the Denison Herald.

Edward Seay, 1916
Senior Class Photo
Denison High School

Source : DHS Yellow Jacket (Yearbook), 1916

Edward M. Seay, 1921
Student at the University of Texas

It is unclear what happened next, but Ed's adult life saw him in key positions at a string of New York City's most prestigious hotels. Living on the city's Upper East Side, he had a lifestyle hinted at in a gossip column in 1960: "Frances (Mrs. Alfred J.) Preston, Ed Seay's assistant at the Plaza Hotel, went home after hostessing a gay party for Perle Mesta to learn that her husband, a retired member of the Stock Exchange, had died of a heart attack." Edward had become director of advertising and public relations at the Plaza in 1948, a job he held for fourteen years.

Meanwhile, back in Denison, Ed's parents separated. In 1927, his doctor father married Emaline Corrine ("Emma") Howard Lovellette (1882–1970), a 45-year-old local widow. Her husband, William A. Lovellette, had been a conductor on the Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf Railway. Three years after the marriage, in 1930, Dr. Seay passed away.

Ed's mother moved to New York City to be near her son. Her 1956 obituary in the New York Times read: 

"Mrs. Nancy Mathes Seay, widow of Dr. Edward L. Seay, a physician, died yesterday at her home, 320 East Fifty-third Street. Her age was 74. Mrs. Seay was the mother of Edward M. Seay, advertising and public relations director of the Plaza Hotel. She will be buried in Texas."

In 1962, Edward became public relations director of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. His obituary in 1978 identified him as "retired public relations director of the Rainbow Room, Hotel Plaza, Waldorf Astoria, Hotel Pierre, and St. Regis Hotel." By then he was a "consultant in pubic relations to numerous charitable organizations." According to his obituary, Ed had been a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in World War II.

In 1962, too, Ed came back to Denison for a visit. According to the Denison Herald, he was a guest of Clara Blackford Smith and her husband Aubrey. Clara had been on the staff of the Denison High School literary magazine, The Raven, in 1907. She then had attended Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School in New York City before her marriage. The school had "an image of combining secretarial training with the primness of a finishing school." Daughter of the president of Denison's State National Bank, Clara founded the Clara Blackford and Aubrey W. Smith Foundation. It seems likely that she had known Edward for many years.

Ed died suddenly in New York in 1978. Following a funeral at St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue, his body was shipped back to Denison, where he was buried near his mother in the old Oakwood Cemetery east of the railroad tracks. 

New York Times

Ed's father and stepmother had been buried together in the more fashionable Fairview Cemetery.

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