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Chelsea House founder Alvin Cain, 82

Chelsea House founder Alvin Grier Cain died today. He was 82.

 Alvin CainAlvin Cain

Cain was born Feb. 21, 1930, in Gastonia, N.C.

Alvin graduated from Davidson College in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Economics. After a brief career in banking, he joined his father-in-law's company, Spencer Lumber Company, the largest and oldest lumber/construction company in Gastonia.

While working at Spencer Lumber Company, Cain founded the Cain Collection, a company selling period cabinet and door hardware. He then co-founded the retail business Luxury Crafts in Gastonia.

In 1973, Alvin purchased an art firm, The Orleans Company, and moved its headquarters from New York City to Gastonia. From that foundation, he created furniture and décor source Chelsea House. He traveled the world to bring the best designs and craftsmanship to Chelsea House, and served as Founder and CEO of the company until 2009.

Alvin is survived by his wife of 57 years, Ann Spencer Cain; daughter Ginny Cain Ratchford and husband Bill of High Point, N.C.; son William Spencer Cain and wife Monica of Mt. Holly, N.C.; five grandchildren William Daniel Ratchford, Laura Ratchford Hanf (Jason), Elizabeth Cain Williams (Coleman), Mary Spencer Cain and Samuel Augustus Cain II; and great granddaughter Madison Grace Hanf. He was preceded in death by his parents, Samuel Augustus Cain and Mary Virginia Grier Cain, and brother Phillip Augustus Cain.

In addition to his great love of his family, Cain had a lifelong passion for history, architecture and the decorative arts. He worked with many great museums and historical societies. Cain was a lifelong member of First Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, where he served as both a Deacon and an Elder.

In addition to his work with First ARP Church, Alvin was involved with, and on the board of, many civic and professional organizations. He served as the Director of the Gastonia Chamber of Commerce, Director of the Gastonia Merchants' Association, President of the Gaston Crippled Children's Society, President of the Jaycees, and Director of the Civitan Club. In 1982, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award as Gastonia's Man of the Year. He also served as a lifetime trustee of Limestone College.

The family requests memorials be made to The Alvin Cain Scholarship Fund, Limestone College, 1115 College Drive, Gaffney, SC 29340; First ARP Church, 317 S. Chester Street, Gastonia, NC 28052; Covenant Village Benevolence Fund, 1351 Robinwood Rd., Gastonia, NC 28054.

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