Geoffrey Lee Seamans ’68

Geoffrey Lee Seamans ’68, 66, of Decatur, Ga., passed away on July 19, 2012 from lung cancer. Seamans’ keen interest in current affairs and love of a good argument found a happy union on the editorial pages of the Roanoke Times. For most of his 32 years with the newspaper, Seamans was an editorial writer. He retired in 2005, serving most recently as the associate editor of the editorial pages. Whether opining on the happenings of Congress or in small town halls across Southwest Virginia, Seamans was remembered for stating his views eloquently and vehemently. “I remember he enjoyed arguing,” said Alan Sorensen, former editor of the editorial pages for the Roanoke Times. “He was upset by politicians who didn’t seem to defend their positions rationally, or to fully appreciate the effect their policies had on people who were disadvantaged or struggling to get by.” An avid pipe smoker, Seamans could often be seen strolling the streets of downtown Roanoke after smoking was banned in the newspaper building, seemingly lost in thought about the next day’s editorial. After graduating from Davidson, serving a stint in Vietnam for the U.S. Army band, and earning a master’s degree in history from Duke University, Seamans was hired as a reporter for the Roanoke Times in 1973. He worked out of the newspaper’s now-defunct Shenandoah Valley bureau and later covered higher education, at one point winning a Landmark Award for distinguished reporting. “He had the knowledge, he had the memory, he had all the tools a good reporter needed,” said Forrest “Frosty” Landon, former executive editor of the Roanoke Times. In 1980, Seamans joined the editorial staff, where he found his true calling. “He loved it,” said his wife, Nan Seamans, 160 E. Parkwood Rd., Decatur, GA 30030-2812. “That was just exactly the right place for him, influencing the Roanoke Valley.” As outraged as Seamans could get over an issue, colleagues said he was always open to talking to readers who might have a different view. “He respected debate, and he liked hearing the other side of arguments and getting into the fray of that,” Sorensen said. Seamans had a wry sense of humor and was known for loud guffaws that would liven up a meeting of the editorial board. On a biographical questionnaire for the newspaper, Seamans was once asked to list his hobbies and athletic interests. He replied: American history, drinking, sleep. As an editorial writer, Seamans focused on political, economic, and higher-education issues. His work was honored by a first-place award from the Virginia Press Association. Seamans was also involved in civic affairs, once serving as president of the neighborhood group in Old Southwest, where he and his wife lived in a pink house on Walnut Avenue. In a profile that ran in the Roanoke Times in 2005, shortly before his retirement, Seamans wrote that the best part of his job was “afflicting the powerful when they do or say truly dumb things.” The “second-best, but harder part,” he wrote, was “explaining and weighing issues where all sides have legitimate points.”