Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Uncle Ed

My only "real" uncle by blood was my father's brother, Edward Richmond Seaver (1913-2004), born in Leominster, Massachusetts, the son of Frederick Walton and Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver. Ed married Janet Arlene Roukes in 1940 and they had a son and a daughter, and two grandchildren. He played football at Columbia University, and graduated in 1935. Ed served in the United States Navy in World War II as a ship's captain. After the war, he went back to his family in Leominster, and he and Janet moved to Arizona in the late 1980's, where he died in 2004. Ed and Janet are buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster, in the ground beside the graves of his grandparents, Frank and Hattie (Hildreth) Seaver.

Here is Ed in 1931, fresh out of high school and off to Columbia to play football:

This is the only wedding picture I have of Ed and Janet from 1940:

Ed and Janet came to San Diego several times to visit - here they are (on the right) with my parents Fred and Betty Seaver (on the left):

After they moved to Sun Lakes, Arizona in the late 1980's, we visited them several times. This was taken in 1992:

All of my other uncles were married to my father's sisters, and I only knew one of them well - my Aunt Geraldine's husband, James Howard Remley. All of these people were in New England and we lived in San Diego, so we rarely saw them. My mother was an only child, and her parents were only children, so I had no aunts or uncles on my mother's side.

When Ed died, a memorial service was held in Leominster on 7 July 2004 for both he and Janet, who had died in 2003. Here is part of my eulogy for Uncle Ed:


We are here today to honor and to celebrate the lives of Edward and Janet Seaver. Ed was my father’s brother, and therefore my uncle. The stories my dad told us about Ed and Fred as mischievous children, rowdy teenagers and young adults were funny and rang true.

My earliest memories of Ed and Janet were the Christmas gifts sent each year from Leominster during the 1950’s. I visited Leominster in 1966 and 1968 on business and pleasure trips and met Ed and Janet in person then. They welcomed me warmly and told me their side of the family stories. During the 1970’s, Ed and Janet came to San Diego several times to stay with my parents and to meet my growing family. In 1982, my family visited Leominster on vacation and had a wonderful time. After they moved to Arizona, we visited them several times in Sun Lakes and they visited us in San Diego. In the last twenty years, we kept in touch by phone on a regular basis. Every time we talked or got together, it seemed like we had known them forever. The time we spent with them and the lessons of life they taught us were priceless. We loved and admired Ed and Janet Seaver.

When we were in Leominster in 1982, I sat down with Ed and we talked about the family and about his life. I taped that conversation for posterity. I asked Ed what was the happiest time in his life. He said:

“I think, of course, when I got married. We’d gone together so long, it was just great. We finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. We’d known all these years that we really loved each other and wanted to get married. And then, when the children came. I was the kind of father that just went completely wild when the children were born. I can remember going in and telling Jan that ‘you make the most beautiful babies.’ That’s kind of cornball stuff. Both of my kids, I’m just crazy about them.”

And what was his basic outlook on life?

“Oh boy. I think like the guy who said ‘Let me live by the side of the road and be a friend to man.’ I like people, and I think it’s much nicer to be friendly to people than to be hostile. It’s better to be positive than to be negative. I like to have things congenial. I like to kid, I like to have fun. I don’t think I take myself too seriously. I love kids, I’m glad I’m in a big family, all these nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews. I enjoy watching them grow up. I think that’s what the world is about – the kids.”

Every time they came to San Diego or we went to see them, Ed and Janet loved talking to and playing with my girls – board games, reading books, exploring the backyard, getting down on the floor roughhousing. They remember Ed and Janet well and loved them dearly.

A man named Carl Eaton wrote this:

"My life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, WOW, What a Ride!"

I think they would have subscribed to that! My sense is that Ed and Janet lived very full and complete lives. They tried their hardest to do the very best they could with their family, education, work, community service, and friends. They succeeded.

They enjoyed being with their family, and were very proud of them. One of their legacies is their genes. Looking at the big picture – Ed and Janet contributed their goodness and love to humanity and were a vital part in the march of the generations.

Another legacy is the memories we have of them, as their family and friends, and the example of two lives well lived as one – filled with love, happiness, and goodness.

It is customary to provide a 21-gun salute to our heroes – in that spirit I offer a 21 word salute to two of my heroes – Ed and Janet Seaver, who were:

Happy, gracious, confident, hard-working, friendly, considerate, compassionate, enthusiastic, fun-loving, courageous, positive, generous, patriotic, corny, blessed, honest, wise, loving wonderful human beings.

I thank God for the privilege and the honor of knowing them and being loved by them – may they rest in peace in this place in Leominster, that they always called “home.”


I am so thankful to have had Uncle Ed in my life. He provided one of the real links to the New England Seaver families. He was also interested in the family history, and kidded me a lot when I came up with relationships to royalty, Mayflower passengers, or Presidents. When I first started my research, he and Gerry provided the most family information that helped me get started, and they provided constant encouragement. One year for Christmas, Ed sent away for the Civil War Pension File of Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) and gave it to me as a gift.

1 comment:

GrannyPam said...

What a touching tribute to a family member. Thanks for warming my heart today Randy.