Once, during a lunchtime discussion outside of Daniel Building, Dr. John L. “Jack” Seitz was asked what kind of bird he would like to be.
Seitz chose a hummingbird because they are energetic and colorful. When told they were also aggressive, he quickly changed his mind.
“That’s indicative of his kind, compassionate and gentle nature,” says Dr. G.R. Davis, Dr. and Mrs. Larry Hearn McCalla Professor of Biology Emeritus.
Seitz, professor of government emeritus, died Aug. 9 in Spartanburg. He was 92.
“Jack was just a gentle soul,” Davis says “He always had a dog, and they walked several miles to work every day. The dog would sit out with us and have lunch.”
Seitz was a high school teacher before joining the faculty at Wofford. He became chair of the department and taught at the college for 35 years.
Before beginning his career in education, Seitz worked for the U.S. Army’s Counterintelligence Corps, a World War II and early Cold War intelligence agency. Because of his work he lived in a variety of countries, including Korea, Iran, Brazil, Liberia and Pakistan.
“When he’d gotten enough of that life, he came home and got a job at Wofford,” says Dr. Dan Maultsby ’61, dean emeritus of the college. “We needed someone in that role, and the students enjoyed his classes.”
Seitz became interested in environmental issues during his tenure, including climate change. He wrote six editions of the textbook “Global Issues: An Introduction.” The book was translated into several languages and used in classrooms around the world.
“He was very devoted,” Davis says. “It became a lifelong project for him to keep his book updated, even after he retired.”