SEVERANCE, JOHN LONG (8 May 1863-16 Jan. 1936), industrialist, was born in Cleveland to Louis Henry and Fannie Benedict Severance. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1885 and returned to Cleveland to work for STANDARD OIL CO. In 1892 Severance left Standard Oil to work with the Cleveland Linseed Oil Co., a paint and varnish industry. In 1899 he was instrumental in founding American Linseed Co., into which Cleveland Linseed was merged. In 1901 he organized and became president of Colonial Salt Co., and about the same time helped form Linde Air Prods. His other business connections included serving as chairman of the board of Cleveland Arcade Co. and Youngstown Steel Door Co., and as director of Cleveland Trust Co. and Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.
Philanthropically, he was president of the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART and MUSICAL ARTS ASSOC. Besides being a liberal benefactor to the art museum during his life, at his death he left it a collection valued at over $3 million. In 1929 he gave the city $1.5 million to build a concert hall (see SEVERANCE HALL) for the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA; in 1930 increasing his donation to $2.5 million in memory of his wife. Severance was an initial member of the Cleveland Community Fund; a trustee of Oberlin College, Western Reserve University (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY), and Nanking University in China. He sponsored Severance Medical School & Hospital at Seoul, Korea, an institution founded by his father. Severance married Elizabeth Huntington DeWitt in 1891; she died in 1929. They had no children. Severance died in Cleveland and is buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.