Everett C. Stetson Remembered
By: Kathy Gemperle
Everett Charles Stetson was born in Cincinnati on January 15, 1916. His parents lived there briefly because his father was a construction engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He had been working on the elevating of railroad tracks in towns across the country where the accident rates with cars and wagons had been on a steady rise. After Everett’s birth the family including his older sister Helen moved to Pittsburgh before the final move to Chicago. In Chicago Mr. Stetson was on loan to the Union Station Company to work as second in command on the building of that station. In 1919 the Stetson family moved to 1754 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue in Edgewater.
The home they moved to had been built in 1915 by Edgewater architect Neils Buck. It was an early example of a housing development which still thrives today. Everett attended Peirce school and had many fond memories of his walks to and from the school. He attended the Peirce kindergarten before it was expanded and remodeled. The playground was landscaped with a grassy field and beautiful stone benches, flowers and bushes and a pond during the time he attended Peirce.
Because of his academic abilities Everett skipped grades twice, though he said he regretted it later. Before he finished eighth grade in 1928 the family moved to 5544 N. Wayne. On the lovely vacant lot across the street from the house on Bryn Mawr the Halsey Company was going to build a factory and Everett’s mother wouldn’t hear of living across the street from a factory. The long walks on Bryn Mawr came to an end. In January Everett also known as Charlie, graduated from Peirce School and began immediately as a freshman at Senn. He was only 12 years old and still in knickers.
Senn was overcrowded in those days before the wings were built. Students had classes in portable classrooms that were heated by potbelly stoves. But before he graduated Charlie did have some classes in the new wings. Since there were about 5000 students at the school they scheduled classes in shifts. The freshmen and sophomores attended from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everett graduated from Senn in 1932.
Everett enrolled at Northwestern University and completed four years of study in Economics with a minor in Math. He graduated with honors in 1937. His father died that year. He got his first job with Sears at the Lawrence Avenue store where he spent nine years. He continued working for Sears for the next 24 years at the Homan Avenue Store. Then he spent three years at the Time-Life building and then three years at the Sears Tower before retiring at age 59 in 1975. His mother had passed away in 1967 and he moved to the Edgewater Beach Apartments where he lived until 1997.
Everett had a great fondness for the beach and spent many happy hours hanging out there on the public side of the fence that separated the Edgewater Beach Hotel guests from the local residents. In retirement he found a unit that faced north and east so he could watch the lake through all the seasons. He found many friends at the Edgewater Beach Apartments and through them learned about the Edgewater Historical Society. He read the Edgewater Scrapbook and called to offer his memories of Edgewater for a taped interview. He offered to write some recollections and soon became a member of the Scrapbook staff. He took on the task of getting more people at the Edgewater Beach Apartments to become members. He joined the Board of Directors in 1994.
For years the Board had been keeping an eye out for a place to develop as an office and museum. But everything was out of sight in price. When the opportunity to look at the firehouse on Balmoral occurred, the Board did not have much hope of success. The building was in terrible condition and Everett was not happy with the location being so far from his residence. Nevertheless, after he saw the place and realized how much work it would take to fix it he offered a large donation to begin the project. In June of 1996 the Board held a thank you party for Everett. He was thrilled to celebrate with all his friends.
Because of his deteriorating health, his nieces, who lived in Houston, Texas, decided to move him nearer to them. Then they proceeded to sue the Edgewater Historical Society for the return of the gift. This lawsuit was settled in 2001 just before the last phase of construction. Everett Charles Stetson died in June of 2002. He did not live to see our beautiful museum open. We cannot forget him and will name the main hall in his honor on June 12, 2003.