In Memory

Owen Seitz

R. Owen Seitz (1912-1997)

Born in Valparaiso, Indiana, Seitz taught for a total of 35 years. He served as band director at Western Kentucky State University Teachers College; Picadome High School in Lexington, Kentucky; O’Keefe High; Boys’ High, and Grady High School in Atlanta. The O’Keefe Band was First Division in the National School Music Festival. The Grady Orchestra and Boys’ High Band performed at SDMENC conferences.

Seitz was president of his graduating class at VanderCook School of Music and was Indiana state trombone soloist. He served as president of GMEA, first trombone with the Atlanta Symphony, and trombonist for the Metropolitan Opera in Atlanta.

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04/21/20 11:09 PM #1    

Sarah Ann Sanders (Long)

When I was in Third Grade at S.M Inman, I joined the elementary orchestra and then went on to play in the Grady Orchestra. The orchestra leader through all of this was R. Owen Seitz, Mr. Seitz to us.  I played the violin and although I had private lessons during this period, I was never a very inspired player. Being in the orchestra meant I always had Third Period at Grady with Mr. Seitz. He was not a cozy man. In fact, I was really afraid of him. I was there the day he threw a Kleenex box at someone,  and when he threw a chair, and the day he snapped his baton in half in disgust. Mr. Seitz expected one to do ones best, and one did not want to disappoint him!

Part of what I learned from the orchestra was when the curtain goes up, you sat up straight, smiled, and did what needed to be done--all the way to the end no matter what happened. I also learned to show up on time, ready to play, no excuses. I was never on a sports team, but Mr. Seitz and being in the Orchestra gave me the experience of being on a team. We traveled some and won some awards. I learned a lot.

Several months ago,I treated myself to a special movie theatre showing of the Last Night of the Proms, filmed by the BBC. It was a 3+ hour performance, ably conducted by Marin Alsop from Baltimore, MD. This was her second appearance as last night conductor. In 2013 she broke records as the first woman to conduct the event. Besides being very able, Alsop is very personable. The concert featured not only the BBC Orchestra and Chorus but also Tenor Jonas Kaufmann, soprano Danielle de Niese and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor. I laughed and I cried; it was an extremely moving experience, in part because of the BBC's excellent filming including astounding close-ups. I loved seeing the orchestra members play. They were so good and so professional! It must not have been easy performing for 3+ hours!

As I was leaving the movie theatre, I thought of Mr. Seitz. It probably was not fun for him dealing with whiny kids and disruptive teens. But he did it ably and with conviction. He never talked down to us and he challenged us with hard music. I feel so appreciative of this aspect of my education at Grady. The lessons I learned have helped me my whole life and I am grateful. I am sorry I never took the opportunity to thank Mr. Seitz.  I think he passed away several years ago but I thought if I told you of my gratitude, it might mean something. After all, some of you were in the Orchestra or the Band, and you knew Mr. Seitz, too.

04/22/20 06:39 AM #2    

Raelee Dworet (Laporta)

That is a really nice tribute.

04/22/20 12:42 PM #3    

Cris Hope (Oliver)

I enjoyed reading your tribute so much - for several reasons.  I remember the high standards, and therefore success, of Mr. Seitz.  Didn't he leave us to become principal of Northside?  Oops, it was Doug Rumble who left to become principal of Northside.  I was disappointed not to be able to sing in his chorus; he was so good.  I still have a record of a concert the old chorus directed by him.  It's good.  It anyone would like a copy I'll mail you a CD.  Just let me know.




04/23/20 08:07 AM #4    

Demaris Humphries (Miller)

I agree with what Sarah Ann Sanders Long said about Mr Seitz -- and so much more.  Orchestra was a team.  I credit being in the orchestgra with much of my success in future endeavors.  Not only did we learn a great deal from Mr. Seitz, but we performed better because we didn't want to let our fellow members down.  Orchestra was the social center of my life at Grady.

Mr Seitz was a trombone player, but he went to great lengths to have a full orchestra -- something Grady and most other high schools no longer have.  We didn't just have 3rd period orchestra.  We had to be there every morning before school to practice with the full orchestgra -- strings, winds, and percussion together.  None of that extra work was required, but Mr. Seitz took real pride in having a fine orchestra.  He even took us to Miami -- in three Greyhound busses -- to play for the National Music Educators Association.

Mr. Seitz' dedication to us was unparalleled.

04/24/20 01:59 AM #5    

B. J. -Betty Rutland (Stapleford)

Betty (B-J) Rutland Stapleford - Thanks for all your comments about Mr. Seitz. He was not and easy man to love, but I too learned a lot from him and my experience as a cellist in the Grady orchestra and All-City Orchestra for 4 years. And thanks to all of you who were a part of that important community. I learned there that we were all better together - a lesson that  has been a touchstone for my life.

04/24/20 11:57 AM #6    

Charlotte Glazer (Baer)

I have enjoyed reading these comments so much. Even though I was in the orchestra only two years, Mr. Seitz's legacy was long-lasting.

Sarah's first posting started me thinking about other teachers with long-lasting influence. What about Mrs. Taylor the Southerner advisor? (I can't remember her first name, since we always called her Mrs. Taylor). She created a wonderfully supportive atmosphere in the "newsroom."  I enjoyed the camraderie  and learned so much from the older students, who acted as mentors. Recently, when Hilton Dickerson was visiting DC, he and his sister Joan spent an afternoon with me visiting the gardens at Hillwood. I remembered Joan well as  a senior "mentor" when I was a sub-freshman. Of course she didn't remember me but she was very gracious.

Mrs. Taylor knew how to push me to try new things, in her gentle, Southern way. When she appointed me Business manager I was beyond shocked! But I learned to lead and coordinate with others, to reach out to strangers and to think of the good of the whole -- experiences that have served me well.

Thank you, John, for pushing us to delve into our memories. I hope we will all be together soon.

Charlotte Glazer Baer









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