By Cheryl Brown –
Charlie Seymour was just getting started on another project when time just ran out. He became incapacitated and has passed the mantle on to whoever will pick it up. Since he mentored so many to replace himself it should not be difficult. He was a great teacher and ended every conversation with an “I love you.”
Mr. Seymour was a strong leader with a strong personality and a strong constitution. He wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, especially when it came to the children and youth of the community. As a result, he helped countless youth obtain bikes and computers and even taught some how to play golf.
His life’s journey began in 1919, when this feisty baby was born in Detroit, MI to Ann and Perry Seymour. Mr. Seymour’s birth name was Perry and somewhere along the way he became Chuck and then Charlie and it stuck. At an early age he was taken to the Christian Science Reading Room to learn the tenants he lived by for over 90 years.
Seymour was in 10th grade when his education derailed and it took over 80 years to get it back on track. He had a knack for numbers and could figure out large equations in his head. On his 14th birthday he met with his guidance counselor and expressed his desire to become an accountant.
She said that he needed to pick another field because a Black man would not be accepted as an accountant. That day he walked out of school not to return until 2006.
He went to work in the Ford factory and his parents didn’t know for quite sometime that he was not going to school. Seymour never forgot what he learned and spent much of his life teaching others.
He became a single father raising two children when he met the widow Madeleine Hill-Lacy, who was raising two sons. They fell in love, eloped and enjoyed life together. They thought their family was complete because Madeleine was unable to have more children; at least that was what the doctor told her. Three years later Charlotte was born and finally the family was complete.
Mr. Seymour was a master salesman/ businessman with a desire to make a better life for his family.
He moved his family to Los Angeles, California in 1959. He began Acme Decorator and Janitorial Services painting homes and apartments. His life took a turn when his employer (The Tribune Newspaper) asked him to relocate to San Bernardino. He set up an office on Mt. Vernon Avenue, sold advertising and mentored young people. The Tribune became the other paper in town.
Seymour didn’t know that the paper would be short lived. When he found out it was going out of business, he bought the newspaper and decided to continue publishing until there was no more advertising.
During that era, he helped to found the Black Fathers and soon founded another business, Inland Mailing, where he had major accounts. All along he was interested in what students were learning in school and he hit upon College Capable Cats, helping students prepare early for college.
Once, when he was at a meeting where some children were getting bikes, he saw the disappointment on the faces of children who did not get one. He said that he would make sure that if a child read three books, wrote a book report, learned to fix and maintain a bike, learned to say yes ma’am and yes sir, in six weeks, that child would own a bicycle. The same is true of computers. Adopt-A-Bike and later Adopt-A-Computer was born. Computer classes and remedial reading classes were also offered. He even included a Toastmaster’s Club.
Around 1997, the national Make a Difference Day program drove up in a van and surprised him with a large check and beautiful flowers. During that time he also had the opportunity to acquire enough land to build 9th Street Youth Golf Academy, a 3-hole golf course that could be configured to play as 18- holes. Everything he learned about life he said that he learned on a golf course. He said he learned honor, integrity, self-control and discipline; the dream of 9th Street Youth Golf Academy was his unfinished mandate. Meetings with the PGA, golf pros, the city and county government inched the project along, but he just ran out of time.
Mr. Seymour will be remembered as a youth advocate and a friend to senior citizens. He used to take Ms. Dorothy Inghram, his elder, fresh carrot juice everyday.
He was so concerned about education. Due to his lack of a high school diploma, he inquired how he might finally get one. Charlie Seymour proudly walked across the stage of Arroyo Valley High School accomplishing a lifelong dream of being a high school graduate. His graduation photo, his diploma, and the experience were a major highlight in his life. All that he taught the youth, his counselor discouraging him, all came full circle as Karen Craig presented him with the graduating class of 2006.
Left to cherish his memory; daughters Charlotte (Bruce) Hall, Donna (Leroy) Baker, Patricia Walton, stepson Larry Lacy, grandchildren, Wells (Gretchen) Forde, Weldon (Denise) Forde, Wade (Stacey) Forde, Winston (Tamara) Ellison, Tiffany Ellison, Nicholas, Jaynelle, Samuel Baker, Sheila ( ) Mitchell, Sebastian Frederick Randolph, nephew Niles Seymour Heron, 23 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren.
His wife of 67 years preceded him in death on January 17, 2011.
The memorial service will be held on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 11 a.m. at the Feldhym Library in San Bernardino.
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