August 26, 2010

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Edwin P. Van Sciver, designer

Edwin P. Van Sciver, 91, formerly of Chestnut Hill, an architectural and product designer who developed the first emergency beacon for offshore sailors, died of heart failure Aug. 17 at Waverly Heights, a retirement community in Gladwyne.

Until his retirement in 1975, Mr. Van Sciver had worked for Narco Scientific Industries in Fort Washington, where he headed the marine division and designed the emergency beacon. Earlier he had been employed by Philco/Ford.

After his retirement, he became an architectural designer for homes and remodeling projects. In 1961 he designed and built a house for his family on Glengarry Road in Chestnut Hill. He and his wife, the late Sally Walter Van Sciver, moved to Waverly Heights in 1998.

Raised in Mt. Airy, Mr. Van Sciver attended Germantown Friends School, where he met his future wife in 3rd grade. He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering and fine arts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During World War II he worked in California for what later became the McDonnell Douglas Corp.

An avid sailing enthusiast, Mr. Van Sciver built two sneakbox sailboats in shop class at Germantown Friends and won regattas in Toms River, N.J., sailing them. He and his brother, Wesley, spent the summer sailing a 38-foot cutter when he was in college.

He also sailed Lightning–class boats in Barnegat Bay, N.J., and later sailed in the Grand Cayman Islands, where he had a winter home.

He is survived by a son, Rodman, and two grandchildren. His close friend and companion, Mona McLane, died last year.

A memorial service was held Aug. 22 at St. Thomas Church, Whitemarsh. Memorial donations may be made to Education for All Children, 11 Heather Dr., Rye, NH 03870, a foundation established by the Van Sciver family that provides scholarships to children in the developing world.


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