Albert B. Southwick, 100
Leicester - Albert B. Southwick of Leicester died peacefully on Friday, April 16, 2020 at his home in Leicester. He was 100 years old, and had suffered a stroke last year.
Albert is survived by his wife Betty (McGrath) Southwick; two daughters, Jana Jarvi of Rutland, MA and Martha Schwediauer Southwick of Vienna, Austria; two sons, Randall Southwick of Hubbardston, MA and Jason Southwick of Leicester. He is also survived by 5 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
He is predeceased by his first wife, Shirley (Johnson) Southwick; his parents, Nathan Southwick and Ruth (Earle) Southwick; and all of his eight siblings.
Albert Southwick was the seventh of nine children, and grew up in Leicester, Massachusetts, on the farm that had been in his family for generations. He attended Mannville School, a one-room wooden building with kerosene lamps where a single teacher taught all eight grades. He later attended Leicester High School and Clark University in Worcester (he won the Prentiss Hoyt Poetry Prize at Clark in 1938, 1939 and 1940) before spending four years in the United States Navy as a naval aviator during World War II. Back in civilian life, he met and married Shirley Marie Johnson of Holden. They were married for 51 years.
Albert and Shirley both went back to college on the GI bill and received their master's degrees, she in social work, he in U.S. history. Albert began work on his PhD at Brown University, but discontinued that pursuit when he got a chance to be a historian for the U.S. Seventh Army in Germany. He and his wife lived in Germany for two years.
After returning from Germany, Albert Southwick joined the Providence Journal as a reporter. In 1952 he was hired by the Worcester Evening Gazette as an editorial writer.
In 1953 Albert and Shirley Southwick (1920-1998) built their house on Marshall Street on land probably owned by Albert's ancestor William Earle in the 1720s. Much of the back land was made into one of the first disc golf courses in the area by their son Jason Southwick in the 1990s. He built his house on the south end.
Mr. Southwick was chief editorial writer for the Worcester Telegram and Evening Gazette from 1968 to his retirement in 1986, after which he continued writing on a free lance basis for a number of publications. He began writing free lance columns for the T&G and eventually became a regular columnist. At age 100, he continued to write weekly columns for the Worcester Telegram until very recently.
Among his special interests were books and libraries. He wrote many articles supporting various libraries. He was a long-time member of the Friends of the Worcester Public Library and president of the Friends of the Goddard Library at Clark University. When he was 92, he was appointed honorary chairman of the Leicester Public Library's seven million dollar fund drive to renovate it.
Albert Southwick was active in the 1977 effort to renovate Mechanics Hall and successfully solicited funds to buy a new grand piano for the hall.
He was a long-time member and vice president of the Worcester Historical Museum, which honored him in 2001 by giving him its first George Bancroft award.
He was an enthusiastic tennis player and skier for many years. In 1960 he and his brother Thomas founded the Moose Hill Ski Area at Moose Hill in Spencer. It was noted because of its unusual method of bringing skiers to the top of the hill -- specially modified trucks that could carry 30 or 40 skiers at a time.
Albert Southwick was a prolific producer of words. At one time when he was chief editorial writer for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette he also wrote editorial essays for the New York Times and editorials for The Saturday Evening Post.
He wrote many articles for various magazines, periodicals and newspapers including The Saturday Evening Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Berkshire Eagle, Worcester Magazine, Worcester Business Journal, Inside Worcester and the Telegram & Gazette. He published over twenty books, including several about Worcester County and its history. He said that his general aim was to put local history into the context of state and national history.
Mr. Southwick wrote two librettos; the first was for the opera Midas with music by Relly Raffman (1921-1988), composer and professor of music at Clark University, which was performed in Atwood Hall, Clark University, in 1966. The second libretto was for the musical The Peaceable Kingdom which was translated into German and performed in Vienna, Austria, in English at the Anglican Church in 2006 as well as in German at Vienna Konzerthaus in 2007.
He was always interested in literature and joined the Worcester Shakespeare Club, eventually becoming president. He was a long-time member of the Worcester Fire Society, and was one of the founders and president of the original Performing Arts School for music and dance. He was also awarded a key to the city of Worcester by its mayor in 2001.
In 2002, four years after the death of his first wife, Shirley, he married Betty McGrath, who survives him.
Like his sister, Ann Cutting, who died in 2016 at age 103, Albert has donated his body to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where future doctors will learn their craft using the bodies of those who have donated them. No memorial service is planned at this time, and the family requests that no flowers be sent. Those wishing to honor Albert Southwick's life may make donations in his name to the Friends of Leicester Public Library, 1136 Main St, Rt. 9. Leicester, MA 01524 or to the Leicester Historical Society, 1 Paxton Street, Leicester, MA 01524.
Published by Worcester Telegram & Gazette from Apr. 17 to Apr. 18, 2021.