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Bill Seaman Remembered

Thank you and Parker Lansdale for remembering former Oberlin admissions director Bill Seaman (Fall '03). He was everything Parker said, and more. When news of his suicide reached the campus, it was as if the earth had moved. Knowing absolutely nothing about colleges, I applied to Oberlin in the spring of 1942 because a high-school friend of mine had attended a Pan American conference there and said it seemed a nice place to go to college. To my surprise, I had a note from Bill Seaman asking me to come for an interview, probably because my high school record was relatively undistinguished. I informed him that I intended to go to Oberlin for just two years, and then transfer to Northwestern to study journalism. With a very slight smile, Bill said only, "Well, we'll see about that. You have lots of time to decide." How right he was, as he was in most things. After 10 minutes' talk, he knew more about me than I knew about myself. I was admitted, undistinguished record and all, and never looked back until I graduated in 1949 after my three years in the Army. Thank you for remembering a wonderful man.
Jim Sunshine '49
Tiverton, R.I.

Parker Lansdale's tribute to Bill Seaman stirred up rich memories of a remarkably warm, caring director of admissions at Oberlin. Bill's influence on my life was profound. It was Bill who convinced me to drop out of high school in December of my senior year so that I could enter Oberlin in February of 1943, join the U.S. Naval Reserves, and be part of the first v-12 class at Oberlin. Bill was also the person I turned to for advice, as he carried out in a masterful, low-key way the role that is now played by dedicated class deans.

Parker himself was also a role model for some of us freshmen. As a junior counselor, Parker was in a position to answer questions, give advice, and subtly keep us freshmen moving in the right direction. Eventually he and I both ended up in Connecticut, he as the executive director of the Bridgeport Foundation and I as a volunteer on one of the local foundation boards. In these capacities, our paths crossed several times over the years. Yes, Bill Seaman had a long reach—significantly influencing the lives of many, including Parker and me.
Don Illig '46
Oberlin, Ohio

Some years ago, when I was still an active Oberlin trustee, I suggested that the College publish memories of Oberlin teachers and other persons, such as Bill Seaman, who were known fondly in their time by former
students. I knew Bill very well and was stirred by the heartfelt memoir of him. I enclose an example of what I have had in mind, which says something of my father's long love affair with Oberlin College and the town of Oberlin. Perhaps I should add that I was Clarence Ward's student, as well as his son, and that he was probably relieved when, after graduation, I abandoned the history of art for philosophy.
F. Champion Ward '32
North Branford, Ct

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