"He was a gentleman."
That's almost invariably what people said Tuesday, when told of the death of Clarence Seavers.
"Mr. Democrat" he may have been to Erie County political circles, and his long life of service -- to his country in uniform, to his party, to his fellow man -- is a legacy of which anyone can be proud. Particularly when you have to build it up from the prejudice stacked up against Seavers and other black people for most of the time he was alive.
As a youth, he was allowed to sit only in the balcony of the State Theatre. Saturday, the great and small gathered in the Great Hall of Ohio Veterans Home to praise his memory.
But through it all, he sought dignity not by demanding it for himself, but by unfailingly according it to others. And it came back, a thousandfold.
The hard work behind the scenes may have been for his beloved Erie County Democrats, but the dignity and respect was for everyone.
"We're not red. We're not blue," former Sandusky ex officio Mayor George Mylander said Saturday at Seavers' funeral. "We're red, white and blue and that was Clarence Seavers.
There are plenty of people in this community who can tell of the times they succeeded because Seavers was behind them, encouraging or egging them on, as need be, and reminding them they had a duty to themselves not to settle for less than they deserved.
Sometimes he didn't need words. The example of his own life was enough.
And he was always about other people.
"You weren't put on this earth to grab. You were put on this earth to give," he told a reporter, years ago. And give he did.
There's talk of naming something in Sandusky after Clarence Seavers. We heartily endorse the sentiment; let it be something that reflects his quiet dignity.
But the memory of the people he helped, the achievements they owe in part to him -- many of us could wish for no finer memorial.