New York City has long served as
magnet for brilliant, ambitious young people from small towns across
M. Seay (1901–1978)
exemplified this phenomenon, leaping from Denison, Texas, to a place at
center of Manhattan's social whirl.
father was Dr. Edward Lee Seay (1873–1930), a
physician and surgeon who was born in Kentucky after the Civil War. The
married Nancy "Nannie" Mathes
(1880–1956) in 1898 and was practicing medicine in Denison, Texas, by
Their only child, Ed grew up in the family's comfortable house at 815
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
: Collection of Grayson County Frontier Village
old Seay home at 815 West Gandy Street
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
a reporter for the Denison Herald.
: DHS Yellow Jacket (Yearbook), 1916
M. Seay, 1921
at the University of Texas
is unclear what happened next,
but Ed's adult life saw him in key positions at a string of New York
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
hostessing a gay party for Perle Mesta to learn that her husband, a
member of the Stock Exchange, had died of a heart attack." Edward
become director of advertising and public relations at the Plaza in
1948, a job
he held for fourteen years.
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
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:
Nancy Mathes Seay, widow of Dr.
Edward L. Seay, a physician, died yesterday at her home, 320 East
Street. Her age was 74. Mrs. Seay was the mother of Edward M. Seay,
and public relations director of the Plaza Hotel. She will be buried 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
Hotel Plaza, Waldorf Astoria, Hotel Pierre, and St. Regis Hotel." By
he was a "consultant in pubic relations to numerous charitable
organizations." According to his obituary, Ed had been a lieutenant in
U.S. Navy in World War II.
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
Clara had been on the staff of the Denison High School literary
magazine, The Raven, in 1907. She
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."
of the president of Denison's State National Bank, Clara founded the
Blackford and Aubrey W. Smith Foundation. It seems likely that she had
Edward for many years.
Ed died suddenly in New York in
1978. Following a funeral at St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue,
was shipped back to Denison, where he was buried near his mother in the
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.
Elaine Nall Bay