Harvey Maynard Severson (July 30, 1912 - May 17, 2010)
By: White Funeral Homes Obituary
May 17, 2010
Harvey was the youngest of 9 children, born in 1912 Forest City, Iowa. His parents lost the farm during the Great Depression and while his Dad went looking for work, he and his mother loaded chickens and a few belongings onto a horse drawn wagon and headed for northern Wisconsin. He went to school in Port Wing, Wisconsin built a home for his parents in Lake Nebagamon. He lost two fingers and a toe in various accidents using saws or axes during his teen years while clearing wood .for heat and shelter.
Harvey never graduated from high school because of the need to provide for his parents during the depression and was embarrassed by that for 80 years. He was a grand story teller and often preached to his children and grand children the importance of education and learning skills at a trade school.
During the Rosevelt era, he worked on the Conservation Corps in Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, re-planting northern forests and sent money home for his parents. He bragged about learning how to de-sex chickens (capons) and de-scent skunks. At approximately age 20, he followed his brothers to New York where work looked promising.
Harvey found work at a gas station in Harlem and worked as a bill collector. He learned to tan hides for a world re-knowned taxidermist. Harvey also hung around Wright aircraft in New Jersey. Harvey managed a company flight line for international pilots.
Wright Aircraft engines was where he met Howard Hughes and the two provided direction for Harvey’s love of flying. He knew Charles Lindberg. After he saved enough money, he went to Lincoln School of Aeronautics in Nebraska.
He returned to New York and New Jersey , built an airplane in the upstairs of a warehouse in down town New York lowered it out of the window down to a flat bed below and hauled it to an air field. He flew the plane across country to Minnesota, landing in farmers fields to buy fuel every 100 miles. He started work at Mid Continent Airlines which later merged to become Braniff airlines. During world war II, he helped modify bombers for special missions including the first Tokyo bombing raids.
He worked for Braniff airlines for 35 years and was a 50 year member of the IAM (International Aerospace Machinists). Harvey built several homes in the cities, including the home he lived in for over 50 years. At age 82, he was recognized by the Intellectual Property Owners Association along with DOW Chemical, for one of his inventions in Washington D.C. and was written up in the New York Times.
Harvey tinkered daily in his garage and came up with techniques to help the troops in Desert Storm which were implemented by the military. He kept his tinkering quiet and was fiercely protective of his ideas. He developed a technique during WWII to recycle used crank case oil for use in motors drove a car using kerosene, using recycled waste aircraft fuel and was appreciative of steam power engines. He was one of the first true environmentalists. He had an unending curiosity for ways to recycle waste products, which led to other machinery for developing wood cs. Harvey was willing to help others solve problems and saw each problem as a challenge which also led to many original machines that had to be developed to get to the end goal.
Harvey often told anyone who asked, that he had to develop ways to make a buck during the Depression. Harvey found fulfillment throughout the rest of his life using his curiosity to invent. Harvey was a story teller and a colorful, fiercely independent soul.