What a beautiful funeral service that was held today for My Grandpa Jim Seitz Sr. Many people gathered to say goodbye to their brother, father, grandfather (great grandfather) and friend. It was a sad occasion, but a beautiful one as well. Many memories, laughs, hugs, and tears were present as we reflected on the times we’ve shared with him. My father gave a hilarious and heartfelt speech honoring my grandpa, I’m so proud to be his daughter. My sweet Aunts also shared some beautiful memories.
When Jim Seitz Jr. was about 10-years-old, he helped build the home-side bleachers as part of the Whitney Field Improvement Committee’s work.The youngster asked his father, Jim Seitz Sr., how much money he would get paid for the work. The elder Seitz told his son by performing the work, he was learning how to give back to the community.
That is something Jim Seitz Sr. did nearly all his life.
The elder Seitz, who died Sunday at age 80 and was to be buried today, was a giving, community-minded person, his son recalled. He also was a driven individual, which showed, for example, during his years as a Huron County commissioner and during a time of need for several local families.
The year was 1974, and the Norwalk Trucker football team was playing in the state championship game. Seitz received a call from a distraught mother. Her son had no way to travel to Dayton for the game. Seitz learned other families faced the same dilemma.
“He said, ‘No problem. I’ll charter a bus,'” Seitz Jr. recalled. He secured a bus, which filled with passengers in 15 minutes. Seven more buses were needed for everyone else who didn’t have a ride. Seitz called local businesses and banks, seeking donations to round up the necessary amount of buses. In a matter of hours, Seitz and local merchants had raised enough money to secure the buses. A picture in the Reflector at the time showed Seitz with his signature pipe, and his pockets turned inside out. The message: We did it.
The seven buses were filled to capacity, the younger Seitz said.
He said his father was the type of person who would buy any number of tickets to a ballgame if, for example, many family members wished to attend, along with him and his children.
Seitz Sr. was a family man, his son recalled. He took his children to Burnham Orchards for apples and to the local reservoir for fishing.
Seitz Sr. started Barman and Seitz General Contractors in 1960, specializing in new home construction and land development. Seitz Jr. is now president of the company. Office manager Barb Dorr said for the 12 years she’s worked at the company, the elder Seitz stopped in at least once a week. “He always had a smile on his face and always had something pleasant to say about everyone,” she said, adding he was a “very upbeat gentleman.” He was also very informed; he read 10 newspapers a day, Dorr recalled. “He always wanted to know what was going on — not just in the community, but in the world,” Dorr said. She said she saw Seitz Sr. two weeks ago, and he looked good and was in good spirits.
“It all came so fast; it was such a shock,” Seitz Jr. said about his father’s illness. His back started hurting, so he went to a doctor, who performed an MRI. The doctor called Seitz’ wife of 35 years, Margaret, with devastating news: Seitz Sr. had cancer in his spine, lung, liver and bones, and had only weeks to live.
Margaret broke the news to her husband and gathered the family. When Seitz Jr. arrived, his father grinned and gave him a “thumbs up” as though to say, “We’ll get through this.” That was at 6 p.m. last Wednesday.
Seitz Sr. died at 9 p.m. Sunday, surrounded by his family. They include 10 children, 20 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Services were scheduled for this morning at Norwalk Alliance Church, with burial following in Woodlawn Cemetery.
A 1952 Norwalk High School graduate, Seitz Sr. served as a county commissioner for four years in the 1990s. His accomplishments in office included the development of Shady Lane Drive, including the construction of the present Department of Jobs and Family Service building and the county jail, and the transfer of the Little Red Schoolhouse from Bronson Township to the fairgrounds.
Other public service included being a Norwalk Park and Recreation board member for 15 years, during which time he was instrumental in building the Ernsthausen Community Center, serving on the zoning and appeals boards, being past president of the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce and sponsoring and supporting the Lefty Grove baseball league.