September 25, 2023

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Todd Seymour

The newspaper obit was short.  Only five lines.

It reported:

Thomas “Todd” Seymour, 95, of Lawrence died peacefully at home on Friday, December 2, 2022.   He was born on May 4, 1927 in Leavenworth, KS.   He was preceded in death by his wife, Jeannot, and is survived by his daughter Bunny, grandson Pieter Bierlaagh and son-in-law Tom Bierlaagh.    At his request, no funeral or memorial service will be held.

Seymour may not have wanted anything more said about himself, but those who didn’t have the privilege of knowing Todd or followed his career should know more about the man and the important role he played for the Kansas University Endowment Association, the University, Lawrence and hundreds of thousands of KU students.

For 17 years, Seymour was President of the KUEA and his commitment was to make sure the KUEA organization was professional and trustworthy; that the millions of private funds given by alumni and friends were invested properly and spent as donors requested; he served under a number of highly successful, top level executive committee members who added stature and strength to the organization.

KU chancellors are not voting members of the Executive Committee, but they are not hesitant in making their wishes known.  Seymour worked at maintaining a good relationship with Chancellors Franklin Murphy, Clarke Wescoe, Larry Chalmers, Archie Dykes and Gene Budig. It’s a tough job with a lot of lip biting.

As KUEA President, Seymour and his predecessors are engaged in a delicate balancing act…working closely with those on the executive committee, fielding the constant requests from faculty, students, alumni, donors and the chancellor for funding for their favorite programs.  Each chancellor is informed he or she should not look to or consider the KUEA as a financial cookie jar to fund their favorite programs or causes.  The KUEA is a separate entity governed by those on the executive committee and trustees.

Irv Youngberg was the first KUEA “Executive Secretary” and then assumed the title as the Association’s President.  He was followed by Seymour, Jim Martin, Dale Seuferling and now, Dan Martin.

Seymour attended schools in Leavenworth, enrolled at KU, interrupted his time on Mt. Oread with three years in the U. S. Air Force, served in Korea, returned to KU majoring in Journalism, worked at the Kansas City Star and then began his career with the KUEA as an Assistant and then Director of the Association’s Greater University Fund.  He became KUEA President in 1974 and retired in 1992.

One of Seymour’s goals was to never offend anyone.  Although he could be strong and direct in expressing how he wanted the Association to operate in order to justify the public’s respect.

Although there were many social changes during Seymour’s 32 years with the KUEA, he made a point to conduct himself, his manner of dress and his lifestyle in a way that someone living in the more conservative areas of Western Kansas would be comfortable and enthusiastic in considering a gift to the Association —  rather than holding back on a contribution due to the perception of a “hippy” and his associates on “Snob Hill” handling their money.

Seymour was unassuming, letting others shine in the spotlight. He had strong feelings relative to University matters and policies, but he never allowed those concerns to compromise his deep, loyal and genuine support for the University.

In Seymour’s game plan… the overall health and excellence of the University was his constant goal.

This is a bit more than the five-line newspaper obit, as requested by Seymour, but hopefully it provides more information about this quiet, but extremely important, effective, nice man.

P.S.  By-the-way, Seymour’s wife Jeannot, who died in 2015 was a very special, talented, highly popular and active member of the art community.  Together, Todd and Jeannot were a unique couple who added greatly to the betterment of the entire city.