Jan. 5, 1928 – Dec. 8, 2015
Chester L. Seymour, a life insurance agent who helped establish and fostered several of Orchard Park’s cherished civic activities, died Dec. 8 in his Orchard Park home. He was 87.
His involvements included the Quaker Arts Festival, the holiday star atop the village’s water tower and the community’s Fourth of July Parade. He was honored for his work by the Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce in 2005, when it named him Citizen of the Year.
Born in Oak Park, Ill., he came to the Buffalo area with his family as a child. He was a graduate of Kenmore High School and attended Syracuse University. He enlisted in the Army in 1946, serving in the Philippines, then in the Air Force during the Korean War.
Returning from service, he joined Empire Studios in Orlando, Fla., the first motion picture company in Florida, where he worked as a sound man and unit manager.
Mr. Seymour, known to all as Chet, moved to Orchard Park in 1959 and, after working as a facilitator on construction projects for George Herman and Associates, a company owned by his father-in-law, became affiliated with New York Life as an insurance agent.
He and another agent established an agency, South Towns Administrators in Hamburg, and he became the sole proprietor in the mid-1960s. He retired in 2012.
Active in Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, he was elected trustee in 1961 and was ordained as an elder for the church’s ruling body. The church co-sponsored the first Quaker Arts Festival on church grounds in 1961, and he was elected chairman of the festival.
After management of the festival passed to the Jaycees of Orchard Park four years later, he continued to serve as its voice, making public service and award announcements.
With friends, he planned, built and installed the star that shines annually during holiday season from the top of the water tower.
For more than 30 years he led a group that cut, installed and decorated an enormous Christmas tree in the church window during the holiday season.He served as a director of Presbyterian Homes of Western New York for six years, moderator of the Presbytery for two years and served on the board of directors for the Presbytery’s Camp Duffield in Cattaraugus County for seven years. Active with the church’s Habitat for Humanity group, he organized numerous weeklong mission trips in New York and Florida.
To provide funds for a hospital in Orchard Park in 1976, he joined with others to produce a concert on Fourth of July weekend in Rich Stadium which featured Bill Cosby and Helen Reddy.
His wife of 54 years, the former Dorothy Herman, died in 2009. Survivors include a daughter, Wendy E.S. Quinn; three sons, Peter W., Dwight H. and David E.; a sister, Sister Mary Elizabeth; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 4369 S. Buffalo St.