SOUTH SHORE Art Seelhorst Jr. likes a challenge. In fact, the centenarian attributes his lone and healthy life, at least in part, to meeting challenges, like staying active, physically and mentally.
“Exercise is the key to longevity,” he said. “You use it or you lose it.”
The South Shore resident marked his birthday Tuesday with a big seafood dinner, but friends will have the opportunity to wish him a happy, 100th birthday on Saturday, when there will be a drive-by from 1 to 4 p.m. at his house at 34 Banner Road in South Shore. His daughter, Susan Miller, said he will be seated in his driveway to greet visitors, who will stay in their cars but will be able to chat with him.
He said he likes the idea of a drive-by party.
“I think it’s very nice,” he said. “I’ve been celebrating all week. I’m a big winner. It’s hard to cope with all this happiness.”
Born in Camden, New Jersey, Seelhorst’s father died when he was a child, forcing his mother, Marguerite Louise Coward Seelhorst, and his 10-month-old brother to move in with grandparents. He always loved gardening and helped his mother with flower and vegetable gardens when he was a child.
He sang in his church choir and graduated from Palmyra High School in 1938 and from Camden County Vocational School in 1940 with a degree in floraculture and landscaping gardening.
He and his family moved to a family-owned farm in South Shore in 1941. The next year, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Force and was a private in the 5th Air Force, 5th Bomber Command, in Port Moresby, New Guinea. He served all over the South Pacific until the end of WWII in 1945.
Following his service, he attended the University of Kentucky, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry in 1950. At UK, he was a member of the Wesley Foundation and it was there he met the love of his life, Judith Ann Barnett, from Shelbyville. They were married Aug. 16, 1951, at Centenary United Methodist Church in Shelbyville. They lived in Siloam, near South Shore, working as a farmer for his Aunt Estelle McKell for several years before owning Seelhorst’s Eggs.
The Seelhorsts had four children: Rick (Susan), Tom (Charlene), Jim( Teresa) Seelhorst and Susan (Steve) Miller. Seelhorst’s grandchildren are Daniel (Samantha) Seelhorst, Michael (Georgianna) Seelhorst, Stefanie Yates, Rachel Seelhorst, Jennifer Seelhorst, Rebecca (David) Spencer, Allen Seelhorst, William Seelhorst and Hannah (Jerry) Rowlands. He also has great-grandchildren: Remy, Benedict and Richard Seelhorst, Pallus and Noble Seelhorst and Abigail Spencer.
The Seelhorsts were married for 64 years; Mrs. Seelhorst died at 89 in 2015.
Seelhorst has been a member of South Shore United Methodist Church since its inception in the 1950s, singing in the church choir for years. He also served as chairman and trustee of the church board and many committees.
He was elected to the Greenup County Board of Education in 1968, where he served for eight years.
In 1976, he retired from farming and went to Morehead State University, where he earned a degree in education and taught horticulture at Greenup County Vocational School until retiring in 1986.
He continues to enjoy gardening. He also is an avid reader and bird watcher. He enjoys music, cartography, meteorology, playing pinochle, playing solitaire on the computer, looking at stamps and keeping a watchful eye on his health and nutrition. He said his favorite foods include grits and peach ice cream.
Faith has had a large part in his longevity, he said.
“The good Lord has had a lot to do with it,” he said. “A lot of people and a loving family have helped along the way and a lot of circumstances worked for me. But the grace of God is the reason.”
He advises younger people to exercise their minds and bodies to stay healthy.
“I challenge people by saying to people, in order to keep going, you have to keep going,” he said.
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A drive-by 100th birthday party for Art Seelhorst Jr. will be from 1 to 4 p.m. today at his house at 34 Banner Road in South Shore.