WALTER HAMILTON SEWARD, 111
Third oldest American man
Walter Hamilton Seward, 111, the third oldest American man, oldest resident of New Jersey, oldest graduate of Rutgers University and of Harvard University, 30th oldest documented person in the world, and 47-year resident of West Orange, died Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008, at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Mr. Seward was attended by his children and family during his week-long illness.
Services will include viewing hours from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Preston Funeral Home, 153 South Orange Ave., South Orange; a funeral service at 10 a.m. Saturday at Kirkpatrick Chapel, Rutgers University Old Queen's Campus, 81 Somerset St., New Brunswick; and
interment at 1 p.m. Sunday at Siloam Cemetery in Vineland.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, on Oct. 13, 1896, Walter was a bridge between three centuries and a witness to many of the changes in the United States, from his contact with Civil War veterans to his inclusion on YouTube. He attended high school in Vineland and went on to Rutgers College on a state scholarship, attending with Paul Robeson, and graduating Cum Laude in 1917. Seward graduated Harvard Law School in 1924, amongst such luminaries as future Florida Senator Claude Pepper. His instructors included future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. He practiced property and title law in New York and New Jersey into the 1990s. In the 1930s, Walter worked as an attorney with the Home Owners' Loan Corporation, a New Deal agency established to strengthen the liquidity of mortgage lenders and to refinance homes to prevent foreclosure.
Walter's devotion to Rutgers was expressed in his near-perfect attendance at annual reunion weekend events, including marching in the parade, initiating and convening the Chapel Service, hosting the single campus-wide 'Punch Bowl' reception, and decades of service as Class of '17 president and correspondent. Also a member of the Old Guard and Loyal Sons, Seward was honored repeatedly by his alma mater and as the first recipient of the "Walter H. Seward Class of 1917 Reunion Award." Seward was also honored with several state proclamations, and a host of awards, articles, interviews and broadcasts highlighting his service and many achievements. He was an avid hiker, and later a Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts leader. He enjoyed music and singing baritone in church choir all his life.
Walter was preceded by his wife, Florence "Betty" Gardner Seward; and is survived by his son, Jonathan of Boston; daughter, Marymae Henley of West Orange; and grandsons, Ethan and Logan.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Rutgers University Foundation, care of The Walter Seward Memorial Fund, 7 College Ave., Winants Hill, New Brunswick, NJ 08901; for the purchase of a bench by Kirkpatrick Chapel and support of the Rutgers Oral History program.
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