Paul Nevin, the man they couldn't buy

January 26, 1995|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Sun Staff Writer

Paul J. Nevin was one of those rare men who never confused money with success.

Once many years ago, a local power broker came to Hampden seeking Mr. Nevin's influence. A certain Democrat needed support and the political boss knew that a good word from Mr. Nevin could carry the working-class neighborhood.

To get his point across, the pol brought along some cash.

"Pop was very polite," said Carol "Sue" Abromaitis, his daughter.

"He told the man that nobody had enough money to buy his soul."

Paul "Bunny" Nevin -- retired Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. supervisor, aide to then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer and a tireless supporter of the Catholic Church -- died at a Towson nursing home Monday from complications after a stroke. He was 84.

"He was the best," said Nicholas C. D'Adamo Sr., who served with Mr. Nevin in the Holy Name Society, a Catholic men's group.

"I've known him for 50 years and he couldn't do enough for people."

A lifelong Baltimorean, Mr. Nevin grew up in Remington as the youngest of nine children.

There, he took a shine to little Norma Harman, the girl across the street. At the time of his death, the couple had been married 62 years.

When they were newlyweds, he would sometimes greet his bride at the end of the day by hanging upside down from a tree in the front yard.

It was on the streets of Remington that Mr. Nevin got the nickname of "Bunny" in honor of his speed and his wiles. Those traits served him well as a boxer, so well that he won a Golden Gloves trophy in the 1930s and was elected to the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame.

After graduating from SS. Philip and James parish grade school, he went to work, eventually rising to the position of supervisor of collections for BGE, where he worked for 45 years.

Along the way, he earned a high school equivalency diploma and attended night school at the Johns Hopkins University.

His health and his character were sustained, his daughter said, by a lifestyle in which there was neither need nor room for alcohol, cigarettes or vulgarity.

He loved music, good conversation, laughter and knowing that someone had done his best.

For most of those who knew him, their last glimpse of "Bunny" Nevin was seeing him waltz with his wife at an 80th birthday party thrown by his children. Two months later, he suffered a stroke while walking to get lunch on Howard Street.

"Until that day, he would leave the house in the morning, bounce up the street to get the bus to go to work whistling," said Mrs. Abromaitis, a professor of English at Loyola College.

The many civic and church organizations which Mr. Nevin served include the Hampden Small Fry baseball league, which he founded; the Union of Holy Name Societies for the Archdiocese of Baltimore; the board of his favorite charity, the St. Vincent de Paul Society; and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, of which he was past president.

He also had been appointed by Cardinal Lawrence Shehan to head an archdiocesan council that gave parishes control over their own affairs.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church in Hampden. Memorial donations may be made to the church at 1008 W. 37th St., Baltimore 21211.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived two sons, Baltimore police Lt. Leander "Bunny" Nevin of Baltimore and retired city police Sgt. Richard Nevin of Westminster; eight grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

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