Long-time Selma resident Seymour Cohn died today in Manchester, VT, where he had been in a nursing home since May 2016 following the death of his beloved wife June Cohn in December of the previous year. He had been brought there by his survivors, Zack Cohn, a grandson, and Rick Cohn and Carol Kaplan, his son and daughter-in-law. Rick and Carol have a house in the area.
Seymour was born and raised in Atlanta. He came to Selma in 1941 to attend basic training at Craig Field following his enlistment in the Army Air Force. He later attended Officer’s Candidate School in Miami. Born into the Orthodox Jewish faith, he met his future wife-to-be and her mother, Mrs. Louise Eagle, at a Friday night service at Temple Mishkan Israel, where Louise and June were members of the Reform Jewish congregation. Seymour rose to the rank of major and served as the ground commander of an Army Air Force airborne squadron. He and June corresponded throughout his service in North Africa and Italy, and they married in 1946, when he returned home after the war.
Following a year in Atlanta, the couple settled in Selma, and Seymour joined his father-in-law, Abe Eagle, at Eagle’s Department Store. He took over management of the store following Abe’s death in 1952. Twenty years later, he and June opened Eagle World Travel on Broad Street, and it was through that business that the two of them broadened their connection with the people and businesses of Selma and Dallas County.
When he retired in 1993, Seymour vowed to give back to the town that he felt had been so generous to him, and he became an active volunteer for the Selma Dallas County Public Library, Vaughan Regional Medical Center, Sturtevant Hall, the Selma Food Bank and its Meals on Wheels program and other non-profits in the area.
Seymour was honored by a number of organizations in Selma including the Rotary Club (Citizen of the Year Award, 2005), the Exchange Club (Golden Deeds Award, 1997) and the Salvation Army (Certificate of Life Membership, 1989). In 1993, the State of Alabama named him its Senior Citizen Volunteer of the Year. In 2013, he was the Grand Marshall for the annual Selma Christmas Parade. Library Director Becky Nichols said at the time, “I think he’s absolutely perfect to be the grand marshal of the parade because our Christmas parade celebrates our town. I don’t know of any person that has celebrated our town through his very long life like Seymour.”
He was one of 50 American seniors who were featured in the 2016 book, If I Live to be 100: The Wisdom of Centenarians.
Few things mattered more to Seymour than being kind and fair to people, staying true to the principles of his faith and having straight drives and a wicked short game on the course at the Selma Country Club.
“Seymour’s warmth and friendliness were legendary,” said his grandson Zack when reflecting on Seymour’s long and satisfying life. “We'll remember him for making friends and helping people wherever he went.”
Burial services will take place at noon on Friday, December 1 in Selma’s Live Oak Cemetery and directed by Lawrence Brown-Service Funeral Home. Seymour’s family asks that anyone wishing to make donations in his name make them to either Temple Mishkan Israel or the Selma Food Bank.