Kevin Saint Clair, 65, a Chestnut Hill resident and recently retired math teacher, track coach and dean at the Julia R. Masterman School in Spring Garden, was killed in a car crash Monday evening, Nov. 6, while cycling in Roxborough, police and school officials said last week. Saint Clair was hit in a multi-car crash along the 7500 block of Henry Avenue just before 7 p.m. as he was riding eastbound on Wises Mill Road and made a right turn onto Henry Avenue.
A black Chrysler struck Saint Clair and knocked him into the northbound lane, where a 2021 Toyota collided with him as he lay in the roadway, according to police. Saint Clair was rushed to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead. CBS-TV reported that the Chrysler driver who struck Saint Clair was taken to the hospital and was in stable condition.
Masterman Middle and High School Principal Jeannine Payne issued the following statement after receiving the tragic news: “Kevin was a dedicated teacher and caring colleague to many of us … He will be missed by so many within our school walls and beyond.”
The Masterman Home and School Association posted online: “Both of Saint Clair's sons were students at Masterman, and many current teachers watched them grow up ... As a community, we share our appreciation of his life and contributions to our school.”
There have been numerous tributes online from former students, such as: “He was more a father than a teacher” and “My life is completely changed for his kindness and complete dedication to his students and athletes.”
Saint Clair was a lifelong athlete. He was a former track star and rowing champion at Temple University and five-time member of the U.S. National Rowing Team, as well as a longtime Vesper Boat Club member who had won several national rowing championships in sweep and sculling events.
He would routinely ride his bike from his Moreland Avenue home to Masterman, where he taught and coached for more than 20 years. “‘Good morning, good morning, good morning,' and he'd say it like that,” Kevin's son, Jack, an acclaimed jazz musician, told CBS News. “But he really did think it was a good morning and that every morning was a good morning. He loved his kids; he loved his grandkids, and he loved teaching. He was so giving of his life to others.”
Bob Previdi, a Chestnut Hill neighbor of Saint Clair's, told us, “My sons went to Jenks and Masterman. Both ran track for Kevin, who told me that he delayed retirement for one year so he could coach my son, Joe, for another year. That's the kind of person he was. Joe ran track for the University of Chicago and was so strongly influenced by Kevin that Joe, now 25, is a high school math teacher himself.
“I used to drive Kevin to track meets, and he was a fantastic guy. He rode that bike always. He was very experienced and very careful. He would go south on Henry Avenue to Wises Mill Road and then to Valley Green and then home. But you know how people speed on Henry Avenue.”
Laura Demkovitz, Our Mother of Consolation Choir director, told us, “Kevin joined the OMC Adult Choir as a tenor one year ago. He was a very kind, gentle, joy-filled man who arrived at each rehearsal and Mass enthusiastic and excited to sing. Whether he was one of several tenors or the only one in the section that day, Kevin sang with his heart, and we all loved him. He worked hard at his craft, practicing on his own at home, too, and he never stopped having fun. I always looked forward to seeing him and his contagious smile and will miss him deeply. Our choir family is truly devastated by the loss of our sweet friend.”
Eileen Newcomb, another OMC Choir member, added, “Our hearts are broken as we lose Kevin, a member of our OMC Choir family. Kevin was a prince of a man; he will never be forgotten.”
Timothy Breslin, a CHCA board member, said, “This is so sad, an unfortunate reality of the car-centric developments and density happening around the city. The speed at which people are driving is the primary cause ... sadly, the new speed cushions do very little.”
The crash is the 10th in 2023 to kill a cyclist in Philadelphia, marking the highest number on record in the city, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
Saint Clair was one of 12 children born to Jean and Jack Saint Clair and raised in East Oak Lane. His father was a longtime teacher and track coach, first at Cardinal Dougherty High School and then at Temple University.
Saint Clair is survived by his wife, Ellen, sons Wyatt and Jack, grandsons Maximilian and Fulton, 10 siblings and many other relatives. Memorial donations may be made to Our Mother of Consolation Church, the Vesper Club or the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
Last weekend the Saint Clair family held two viewings Friday night and Saturday morning, followed by a funeral service at OMC.
Len Lear can be reached at email@example.com.