Scholarship dance keeps Lee native’s memory alive

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff
Posted April 09, 2012, at 2:17 p.m.

LEE, Maine — By all rights the Michael Severance scholarship dance should be a thing of the past today, according to its organizers. Severance’s murder occurred in 2005 and the visceral shock of it has almost certainly begun to fade.

But last year’s scholarship dance drew close to 400 people to Lincoln’s Knights of Columbus Hall. That made it one of the most successful held in the honor of the U.S. Air Force staff sergeant since the event began six years ago.

Severance’s father, Les Severance of Lee, said he has no idea why this is so.

“It is kind of phenomenal that it has stayed as big as it has. I didn’t know it would last like this,” Severance said Sunday.

Severance’s brother, Frank Severance, sees a mix of reasons.

“Some of it has to do with the kind of guy Mike was. Some of it has to do with the timing of the dance,” Frank Severance said. “It’s the first real get-together of the spring, and some of it has to do with people just enjoying people.”

This year’s bring-your-own-bottle dance is set for 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday, April 14, at the KOC hall off U.S. Route 2. The door charge is $10 a person and $15 a couple. Everyone age 21 and older is welcome.

The dance will feature raffles of several items. Proceeds will benefit a scholarship, usually for $1,000, in Michael Severance’s name at Lee Academy, which the Severance brothers attended. Usually the student selected for the college scholarship is interested in industrial arts or related fields, Frank Severance said.

The dance has a familial air, with people coming from all over Maine who know the Severances and their extended family, Les’ girlfriend Brinda Leighton and her daughters, Brooke Raymond and Nichole Leighton Spinney, Les Severance said.

“A lot of friends and acquaintances show up. It is a celebration,” he said. “It [dancing] is something that Michael liked to do, and we get a chance to raise a little bit of money for a scholarship.”

Michael Severance’s wife, veterinarian Wendi Davidson, pleaded no contest in October 2006 to charges that she poisoned her husband of four months on Jan. 15, 2005, with drugs used to euthanize animals, weighed his body down with car parts and cinder blocks and dumped it in a pond in Texas owned by Terrell Sheen, a Davidson family friend.

Severance’s body was stabbed 41 times after death to keep it underwater.

Davidson took a deal to serve a 25-year sentence on a murder charge and two concurrent 10-year sentences on two evidence-tampering charges. She remains incarcerated in a Texas prison. The case was the subject of a true-crime novel, “A Poisoned Passion,” in 2009.

Les Severance said that nothing much has changed with the case or the tense relationship between Davidson’s parents and the Severances compelled by their sharing custody of Wendi and Michael’s son, Shane Michael Severance.

Several months ago, Wendi Davidson sued her parents and the Severances in Texas civil court for visitation rights with Shane in prison and was rejected, Les Severance said.

Shane, meanwhile, continues to grow the way children do, his uncle Frank said.

“He is getting really big,” Frank Severance said. “He’s still a spitting image of Mike when Mike was his age. His mannerisms are ungodly the same, especially for never really having been around his father — he walks like him, talks like him, acts the same way that Mike acted.”

Severance said he feels satisfaction at the way the dance keeps his son from being forgotten.

“It doesn’t make anything go away,” Les Severance said. “It is a way of keeping a memory alive and doing something for your son, in your son’s name. I like doing that.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/09/news/penobscot/scholarship-dance-keeps-lee-natives-memory-alive/ printed on July 30, 2014