John Charles Seelig, our beloved father, grandfather, brother and uncle, died peacefully on Jan. 3, 2021, in Westhampton, N.Y., just shy of his 80th birthday.
John was born in Manhattan’s French Hospital on Feb. 27, 1941. He spent his youth in Jackson Heights and Southold, attending Trinity School and later Gettysburg College and New York University. Between 1962 and 1966, John honorably served his country in the United States Army. Throughout his life, John exhibited the utmost respect for the women and men who also served their country and communities. In his professional life, John worked for Connecticut General and for Alexander and Alexander.
John is survived by his daughters, Jennifer Seelig of Salt Lake City and Adrienne Seelig Higgins, and granddaughter Zoe of Louisville, Ky. He is also survived by his sister, Mona Stoltz; nephew John Stoltz and niece Elizabeth Kughn (Chris); grandnephews Terran and Jaden; and numerous grand-doggies.
A celebration of life will be scheduled when it is safer for family and friends to gather.
In many ways, our father was a child of water. John emerged into the world cradled by water: the Hudson River, the East River, the Harlem River and the Upper New York Bay. As he grew older, our father found ecstatic joy and peace in the Long Island Sound and the Southold Bay. Much like these waters, he always flowed forward, and never gave up. Water in its persistence can bore through solid stone. This “never give up” mentality was the way of many of our ancestors, who fared from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. Their symbol, a triskelion — the Three Legs of Mann — prompted him to never give up, no matter what life dealt. The symbol’s motto: “Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand.” Our father hung a windsock in his kitchen that bore this symbol. And no matter what, he kept going, even when paddling upstream, even when the water was swift.
Stories of the boys from Beixedon were the stories of John’s youth. From the rotten vegetable fights with the kids from one neighborhood, to the storming of the woods near the bulkhead, and to the subsequent swimming trunks lost, and to the renaming of the beach to Lost Vegas. And then there was the carrying of ground floor furniture in the Judge’s house up to the second story so 1954’s Hurricane Carol’s rising waters wouldn’t wash it away. These friendships sustained John for his entire life — they continued to show up, even during the worst times.
Our dad understood water environments and the life that thrived in and on water. He taught us about tide flow to the estuary, the foils of quick mud, the crankiness of the swans, the digging of clams and how they tasted with just saltwater seasoning, the ancient movement of horseshoe crabs and the nesting of osprey.
John loved the Yankees, and he was almost always wearing a Yankee ball cap; there was one in nearly every room in his house, just in case he had to quickly grab one. He loved crisp white undershirts, plain Chapstick and a well-made bed (later in life he finally let go of the tight-enough-to-bounce-a-quarter-off-of-it standard … mostly).
Water flows and adjusts, but our dad did have his absolutes — ask anyone who returned the scissors to the wrong drawer — “There’s a place for everything and everything should be in its place.”
He detested coffee that cost $5 or more a cup and no one other than he had ever put cream in his coffee — they could never get it at that exact and correct caramel color.
New England, never Manhattan, chowder.
Family road trips when we were little began with Dad’s announcement that we were all “off like a herd of turtles.”
John loved playing cards with his Pheasant Run community friends — many laughs for many years even if due to “language” they’d have to “just shut up if a lady walked into the room.”
John found solace, happiness and friendships at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Greenport and was an energetic member of the Christmas decorating committee and received recognition for his efforts to help people experiencing homelessness through the Maureen’s Haven project.
Our dad loved pictures — paintings and photographs. They covered his home’s walls as framed images of boats and of lighthouses. His travel photos, with those he loved, were filed and filled in on the back with descriptions of time and place. “9/00 Bryce Canyon, Farview Point, taken by English Couple.”
John loved books — especially history and military strategy. There were shelves, shelves and some more shelves. “Lost Ships of Guadalcanal,” “Black Hawk Speaks,” “The Celts” and “Louis XIV,” to name just a tiny few.
Dad rode his bike on a regular basis, often 18 to 25 miles at a time, and he loved swimming in the clubhouse pool — just as long as everyone stayed out of his own self-designated swimming lane.
Our father was anachronistic. He enjoyed writing letters, and it’s a miracle he even had an answering machine (yes, the one with the cassette tape). At the end of one of his last notes to his eldest daughter, John wrote, “This epistle is an example of ‘daddy text’ ” and ‘miss you.’ ”
We miss you too, Dad, but we are happy that you’re spending time playing on a beach and sailing with many of your cherished Joseph B. Moby clan. When we see you again, we will be excited to see what you’ve discovered and all of the new things you love.
In the end, our father was like water, forging his own path and refusing to conform. May he rest well and may he, after many meanderings of his life, find his way home.
The family requests those who wish to express sympathy to consider making a donation to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Greenport, N.Y., or to their own favorite charity in John Seelig’s name.
Special thanks to Kristin at the Westhampton Care Center as well as to Raina and Vivian for being with our dad, when we could not.
This is a paid notice.