Exeter, NH — Donald Porter Severance died on June 5, 2013, at his home at RiverWoods in Exeter, N.H. He was 97, and a former longtime resident of Wellesley, Mass., and Tuftonboro, N.H. His beloved wife of 72 years, Phyllis Smith Severance, 95, died at RiverWoods, on August 18, 2013.
Born in West Lebanon, N.H., Donald graduated from high school in Greenfield, Mass., and received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Phyllis grew up in Wellesley, Mass., and graduated from Wellesley High School in 1934. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Oberlin College.
Phyllis and Donald met while working in the M.I.T. registrar’s office. They were married in 1941, at the president’s house at Babson College, her home during her father’s tenure as president. They eventually settled in Wellesley, where they raised four daughters.
Both Don and Phyl loved hiking, downhill and cross-country skiing, figure skating, swimming, and tennis. In 1942, they began their lifelong association with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Over the years, Don served the AMC as president, vice president and secretary. During his tenure as president, he propelled the AMC into a leadership role in the organized opposition to a proposed highway through Franconia Notch, a 10-year battle that successfully ensured the preservation of the Old Man of the Mountain for the enjoyment of several more generations.
They were longtime members of the Skating Club of Boston, where Donald served as president and on the board of directors. For many years, they skated together in the waltz number of the Club’s annual production, "Ice Chips."
Phyllis was a member of the Wellesley Hills Women’s Club, the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church and the Wellesley Historical Society. An avid reader, she helped develop the library at RiverWoods in Exeter, the community to which she and Donald retired. She was also a skillful seamstress and an accomplished knitter.
Phyllis and Donald spent summers on Little Bear Island in Lake Winnipesaukee, where they had built their summer home using only hand tools since the island was without electricity at the time.
Phyllis had a lifelong love of travel. After graduating from college in 1938, she and three classmates drove across the country. She and Donald traveled extensively throughout Europe, and the Unite States, where they enjoyed hiking in the National Parks.
Phyllis and Donald are survived by their four daughters, Carol S. Glenn of Amesbury, Mass., Patricia and Andrea Severance, both of Newburyport, Mass., and Gail Severance and her partner, Arthur Richardson of Shrewsbury, Mass. They are also survived by two grandchildren, Lisa Glenn Laverty and her husband, Thomas, of South Hamilton, Mass., and Jonathan S. Glenn and his wife, Wendy Powell of Maplewood, N.J.; three great-grandchildren, Ryan Laverty, Dylan Glenn and Scarlett Glenn; and by Donald’s niece and her husband, Cynthia and Mike Field of Exeter.
A service celebrating Phyllis and Donald’s lives and their long and devoted marriage will be held at RiverWoods in Exeter, NH.