PROFILE: Niven reflects on 20 years as Chelsea’s first, only mayor
Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2016
By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer
Serving his hometown as its first elected mayor wasn’t always Earl Niven’s plan.
For the last 20 years, though, Niven, 72, has dedicated his life to leading Chelsea, the place where he was born and raised, and where his family’s roots extend as far back as five generations.
On Oct. 31, 2016, Niven’s fifth consecutive term as Chelsea’s first and only mayor will end, and he will not seek re-election.
As his retirement draws near, Niven reflected on how Chelsea has grown since its incorporation, and how the unexpected opportunity to play a key role in the city’s progression has changed his life.
In the beginning
Born Samuel Earl Niven Sr. on July 22, 1943, Niven is the son of the late A.P. and Nannie Niven of Chelsea.
“I’m a fifth-generation Niven,” he said.
He is the seventh of eight children. His father worked as an ore miner for U.S. Steel, and his mother was a homemaker.
His father and brothers owned a logging business and filling station, but Niven worked his way through college at the University of Montevallo with plans to pursue a career that didn’t require manual labor, according to his wife, June Niven.
“He said, ‘I was determined I was going to go to college,'” June, 68, said.