MILFORD —The loss of Jeroldine Rae “Jeri” Seely on Sunday, Nov. 17, has left a void not only in the lives of her husband and brother, in-laws, and nephews but those who knew her as a Lion, a co-worker and a friend.
Jeri grew up in Milford, daughter of Jerry and Kathryn Bushong, and graduated from Milford High School in 1958. She married Durwood “Bud” Seely on Sept. 11, 1960, purchasing a home in Milford and later building a new home southeast of town.
She started with The Papers Incorporated in a part-time position, but that only lasted a couple months when her responsibilities and job rapidly evolved into full-time employment on Aug. 7, 1961, and eventually became the editor in chief, which was her position most of her 58-year career with the company.
Initially, she was hired to proofread and write ‘locals’ for The Milford Mail along with assisting with hospital notes and obituaries. When The Milford Mail and Syracuse-Wawasee Journal consolidated in February 1962 into The Mail-Journal, her duties also grew. While all employees at that time did a little bit of everything, she stayed on the news end of things.
One of the first assignments was to cover the Milford Town Board. She went on to write Main Street. Eventually, the coverage of meetings and writing of columns fell on staff members. She watched as her staff went from just a few to over a dozen.
But she never completely gave up writing, as she has also taken her travels around the country and world, turning them into travel talk articles for several publications. She also wrote numerous reviews for productions at Wagon Wheel and Amish Acres.
Jeri won numerous awards individually and for the staff at Hoosier State Press Association, but the most prestigious award came in 1984. An editorial she wrote “Help keep the children safe” in the Oct. 7, 1984, for The Mail-Journal won her the American Legion Auxiliary Golden Press Award for America’s Best Local Editorial.
She was actively involved with Lions Club. If it wasn’t on a local level, it was statewide. She was deeply involved with the Leader Dog Program.
Her commitment to Milford Lions Club began in 1991 and continued at the local level where she has served as club president and has held the position of club secretary for numerous years. She also actively participated in the club’s local projects.
She has served as zone, regional and district chairman, and from 1996-97 served as governor of District G. She has also been district public relations chairman, and was appointed as the Centennial Chairman three years ago, with her term ending in July at the International Lions Convention.
Additionally, she has served as convention promotions chairman, protocol chairman and district trustee for Leader Dogs for the Blind. She also served two terms as cabinet secretary and cabinet treasurer at the district level.
At the state level she was state PR chairman, served on the Midwinter Committee, where she has served as a presenter. She also was vice-chairman of the credentials committee in Germany in 2013 on the international level.
For a number of years, she served as managing editor of the Hoosier Lion.
Seely was one of the first two women to serve on the Indiana Lions State Council. She, along with her husband, have gone on numerous Lions Club eye-related mission trips to Guatemala, Mexico and Kenya.
She received the 2018 Indiana Distinguished Lion Award in May, being the first woman to receive the recognition award. She has also received the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award through Lions Clubs International Foundation and the Progressive W.P. Woods Award from the Indiana Lions Foundation Inc.
While her responsibilities and commitment to Lions was demanding, she always had time to help out at The Christian Church of Milford as a Sunday School teacher, women’s fellowship, worship committee and other areas within the church.
Jeri and Bud were recognized for their service in 2015 being named Milford Fest’s King and Queen.
She never forgot the birthday of a staff member or a Lion she worked closely with. She was a Christmas elf for the Cardinal Center and helped others less fortunate in many ways.
For years around the Christmas season, she hosted dinner parties at her home for staff, Lions, Sunday School classes and other groups.
You could also find her at a home Notre Dame woman’s basketball game holding season tickets, collecting Lion statues or anything to do with Abraham Lincoln.
She will be missed for her caring ways, her involvement, her words of wisdom and advice and her friendship.