By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COLLEGE HILL - When the Hyde Park Community Methodist Episcopal Church burned down in 1926, 9-year-old John Wesley Seay pledged $100 to build a new one.
He sold knives, magazines, fine chocolates and other wares door to door throughout the Great Depression to make good his pledge. He made his last payment when he was in college.
It was the beginning of a lifelong service to the church.
The Rev. Mr. Seay (pronounced see), a Methodist minister for 43 years and former administrator of Twin Towers Retirement Community in College Hill, died there Oct. 24. A variety of ailments forced him to leave his Westwood home in 1998. He was 86.
The Rev. Mr. Seay was a minister at Wayne Avenue Methodist Church in Lockland (now Friendship United Methodist Church in Wyoming) from 1948 until 1952, senior minister at Westwood United Methodist Church from 1967 to 1976, and administrator of Twin Towers from 1976 until 1983.
He was president and a board member of the Ohio Conference of the Methodist Church for 16 years. He served for 10 years on the board of trustees of Ohio Northern University in Ada and of the Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio.
After his retirement, the Rev. Mr. Seay was director of pastoral care at Wesley Hall Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Riverside, where an endowment fund was named in his honor in 2001.
Born in Robinson, Ill., in 1917, he was 1 year old when his family moved to Cincinnati after his father, Paul Seay, became a teacher at Withrow High.
The Rev. Mr. Seay graduated from Withrow in 1935. He received a bachelor's degree from Ohio University in 1939 and a Master of Divinity degree from Boston University School of Theology in 1942.
Ohio Northern University bestowed an honorary doctor of divinity degree on him in 1961.
The Rev. Mr. Seay enjoyed simple pleasures: singing hymns and silly songs; going for walks and bike rides; playing with electric trains; attending family reunions; making homemade ice cream; and baking coffeecakes to give as gifts.
Survivors include: his wife of 61 years, Laura A. Knoop Seay; three daughters, Judith Carolyn Brown of College Hill and Margaret Ellen Wagner and Mary Beth Brestel, both of Westwood; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Services have been held. Burial was at Rest Haven Cemetery in Evendale.
Memorials: Wesley Hall Benevolent Care Fund, or the John Wesley Seay Endowment Fund for Pastoral Care, both at 315 Lilienthal St., Cincinnati, OH 45204.
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