SEABROOK — One hundred years old today, Raymond Joseph Lavin has been dipping his toes in the water off Seabrook Beach since the 1920s, and yesterday the town showed its appreciation for his loyalty, presenting him with the Boston Post Cane as the town’s oldest resident.
Born in North Andover in 1913 while Woodrow Wilson was president, Lavin has seen a lot of history, and much of it from Seabrook shores, first as a summer visitor and later as a year-round resident after he retired.
He married his late wife and sweetheart, Marie Crane, in 1942, during World War II, and raised seven children in Andover. But always, Seabrook Beach was the spot to enjoy life during the summers, until it became home base permanently in 1980.
Lavin had a roomful looking on yesterday, as his friends and family rose to honor him when selectmen presented the gold-tipped cane and plaque honoring his century of life. And there was no shortage of Town Hall employees on hand to give him hug.
“Everyone loves him here,” Town Hall secretary Amy Davis said. “He’s just the nicest man.”
“Raymond has always been the gentleman of gentlemen,” said Seabrook tax collector Lillian Knowles. “And he never complained about paying his taxes. He always did it with a smile.”
Lavin’s love affair with Seabrook Beach started as a boy, when in the 1920s he spent weekends visiting Lawrence’s Sheehan family, who owned one of the first homes along Seabrook’s shore. Staying in the carriage house beside the Sheehan’s family summer home at the time, Lavin came to greatly enjoy vacationing there and would return as a husband and father, after serving in the Navy during World War II.
“My father enlisted at the age of 28,” Lavin’s youngest daughter, Julie Lewis, said. “He served as chief petty officer on the U.S.S. Westpoint. He handled the paper work for the captain of the ship.”