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Epilogue| Muriel Ann Sinon

An original house flipper, she created palaces

ST. PETERSBURG — Muriel Ann Sinon moved so much that almost every time her grandchildren visited, she had a new home.

One time, her daughter walked up to one of Mrs. Sinon's homes, key in hand, and found the house empty.

"She must have moved again," thought Suzanne Provencher.

Mrs. Sinon was one of the original house flippers — before most knew what the word meant. Over three decades she bought more than 30 homes in St. Petersburg, fixed them up and sold them.

In a sense, this was how she lived her life, too. She was always moving on to new challenges.

• • •

She told her children that John Robert Powers discovered her in New York City when she was 15. Whether it was the modeling agency behemoth or someone who worked for him, the meeting parlayed into a full-blown modeling career for the striking brunette born in the Bronx.

Before she knew it, she was modeling at Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's. Even after she married a man named John Hutchens and had four children, she continued modeling with housewife ads during the 1940s and '50s.

"Oh, what will I fix?" she said in one TV ad while cleaning a window in a dress. "I'll make broadcast corn beefed hash."

• • •

Mrs. Sinon once had one of her children climb through the window of a locked model home and let her in so she could check out the latest decorating trends.

Everything she touched became a showplace. Even the three retirement homes that she and second husband Robert Campbell Mitchell bought and managed in the 1960s in downtown St. Petersburg looked like something out of a magazine.

One, the SeaBreeze, was in the footprint of what is now Moon Under Water on Beach Drive.

• • •

Recently, she held court in her bedroom, which reflected the influence of her French mother, with its chaise lounge, dressing table and pink fabrics cascading down the wall behind her bed.

She told her daughter she needed to update to stainless steel in her kitchen. She sent her granddaughter, Megan Provencher, back to the store time again, rejecting new sheets as too pink, or too peach, or not the right thread count and not her beloved Egyptian cotton. When she found the right ones, she'd sew on her trademark lace.

She wanted to die there in her South Pasadena condo. Her third husband, John Sinon, had been dead 10 years. Her breast cancer had returned. She still smoked, despite an oxygen tank and emphysema.

But then last week, there was something wrong with her leg, a blood clot. They took her to Hospice House at Palms of Pasadena.

That's where she died March 18. She was 81. Her granddaughter was asleep in the chair next to her, holding her hand.

. Biography

Muriel Ann Sinon

Born: Oct. 24, 1926.

Died: March 18, 2008.

Survivors: four children, Gregory Hutchens and wife Sammie, Suzanne Provencher and husband John, Neil Hutchens and John Hutchens; grandchildren, Michael, Megan and Matthew Provencher, Shane and Danielle Hutchens, and Drew and Cole Hutchens; and two great-granddaughters.

Services: 9:30 a.m. Monday at Our Lady's Chapel, St. Jude Cathedral, 5815 5th Ave. N in St. Petersburg.

An original house flipper, she created palaces 03/21/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008 6:33pm]
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