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Your Royal Oak Stories

We're looking for longtime residents to help tell the story of Royal Oak. 

Do you have a favorite Royal Oak tradition, place or person you would like to share with us?

Share your memories here.

Feb 22

1953 Annual Report

Posted on February 22, 2021 at 1:17 PM by Judy Davids

1953 Annual Report Cover

So this may be a bit odd, because usually my emails are about equipment but this is pretty neat that I wanted to share with you. 

My father in law, Richard Barrows, worked for the City of Royal Oak for over 30 years and retired from the city in the early 90's.  He was in the traffic division as an electrician.  He passed away last March and my mother in law has been cleaning out some of his old stuff and she came across an City of Royal Oak 'Annual Report' from 1953 that is in great shape. 

Take a look at the page with the Sanitary Rubbish Collection picture, "Do Not Dump Dead Dogs"...I wonder if that was an issue back then? 

Click here to read the whole report.

Dan Bell.
Feb 14

Like Grandfather; Like Grandson

Posted on February 14, 2021 at 11:18 AM by Judy Davids

Ronald Smith
Ronald Smith

Ronald Smith
Ron Smith  and Nick Reiter

Thank you Officer Nick Reiter, of the Hazel Park Police Department, for sharing photos of your grandfather, Lt. Ronald Smith.

Lt. Smith, who splits his time between Michigan and Florida, served on the Royal Oak Police Department from 1960 to 1988. He was there in 1964 for the opening of the police station at 221 E Troy. He raised five daughters in Royal Oak.

When Officer Reiter was sworn in, his grandfather was there to pin on his badge to his uniform.

"I followed in my grandfather's footsteps," said Officer Reiter. "Everyone pick's a family member to pin on their badge. It's usually the person's father or mother, but I chose my grandfather. He's really special to me."

The photo of grandfather and grandson is one of Officer Reiter's favorites.
Feb 04

A Fallen Royal Oak Airman is not Forgotten

Posted on February 4, 2021 at 2:29 PM by Judy Davids

Thomas Sevald

Thomas Sevald 2

The young Royal Oak boy was on his first bombing mission in 1944. But he never completed it. Lt. Thomas Sevald who grew up in the Lincoln-Woodward area was a copilot on a B-17 bomber when an exploding anti aircraft shell sent a piece of shrapnel into the cockpit, striking Lt. Sevald in the neck.

The captain, John Walter, who was sitting next to Sevald on that fateful mission told me that Tom’s head slumped over onto his shoulder. He never made a sound and never regained consciousness. A crewman quickly came to the cockpit to medically assist Sevald but it was no use. Lt. Thomas Sevald had been fatally wounded.

A long time ago, I found a book in the Royal Oak library about men who went to war in B-17 bombers. There was writing inside the front cover explaining that the book was given to the library by Captain John Walter in memory of his copilot, Tom Sevald. Reading what Walter had written inside the cover did it for me. I was determined to learn all I could about Thomas Sevald and that tragic flight.

It took some time but I was able to make contact with George Sevald in Cleveland, Ohio, Tom’s brother, and I found Captain John Walter who was living in Columbus, Indiana. George told me that Tom was a perfect brother. They did a lot together often spending summer days at Kensington Park near Detroit. John Walter said he did not know Sevald very well since Tom had only recently arrived at their bomber base in England. He found Tom Sevald to be quiet, intelligent and serious minded.

I became friends with John Walter and went with him to a reunion of B-17 airmen in San Antonio, Texas. There, two of Walter’s war-time friends told me that Sevald’s death caused lasting pain for Walter. He almost left the service because of it.

A few years after World War II ended, Lt. Sevald’s remains were brought home and buried by his family in a cemetery near Detroit. On a warm, late spring day years ago, I went to Tom Sevald’s burial site. I placed flowers and an American flag on his grave and took pictures. The photos were sent to his brother, George Sevald in Cleveland, Ohio and to his captain, John Walter, in Columbus, Indiana.

William Murchison