Gerald “Jerry” Thomas Seng, 85, died on Sunday, October 17 at his home in Evansville.
He was born January 27, 1936, in Jasper to Carl and Marcella (Bohnert) Seng.
After achieving a BS in biology at Purdue, Jerry joined the Army, where he won the Company Marksmanship Trophy. The Army made him a cook and assigned him to the general’s mess. He was a proud and patriotic American and was touched when he was able to participate in the “Honor Flight” of service veterans in 2018.
After serving in the Army, Jerry married his high school sweetheart Ann Poe in 1959, and the two shared a truly great love over 46 years of wedded bliss.
His career began as a district wildlife biologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Though he loved working with natural resources, he soon went back to college for advanced degrees in biology and genetics, so he could pursue what would become his lifelong vocation—teaching.
His passion for teaching also came through in his parenting. He was a devoted father to his three children and found great joy in sharing his wonder about life and learning with them.
His first teaching gig as a college professor was at Wichita State University. It was in Kansas that he and Ann had their lives changed by Worldwide Marriage Encounter. This program, designed to make good marriages better, gave them new tools to bring them even closer together. The ME weekend was life-changing for them. They quickly agreed to become an ME Team couple and went on to present dozens of weekends to try to give that same gift to other married couples.
Jerry was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, sailing, and photography.
In 1976, the strong gravity of family and the hills of southern Indiana pulled Jerry and family back to the Midwest, where he became a professor of biology at the University of Evansville, where he was passionate about teaching and working with students. He had formal assignments as a freshman advisor, but he always went WAY over and above his normal advising duties. He really cared about these young people, many of whom were away from home for the first time, and still trying to figure out not only what they wanted to do with their careers, but who they wanted to be. He gave them his time; he gave them his wisdom; he gave them his love.
And the students reciprocated his love, as witnessed by the hundreds of letters, notes, emails and phone calls he received from current and former students thanking him for his personal touch and care. He was nominated for the Outstanding Teacher Award in 18 of the 27 years he taught at UE, and he won the award in 1999. Of all the formal accolades he received in his career, this was his most prized, but he cherished every heartfelt letter from former students every bit as much as the plaque on his wall.
In 2003, Ann was diagnosed with ALS, so Jerry retired from teaching to become her full-time caregiver. Staying true to his vows, he walked her to the door to Eternity in 2005, never losing heart or faith in the One who brought them together.
His mother used to say that “Goodness is the reward for goodness,” which may explain how Jerry was blessed to find a second true love in his life—Kathleen Bohm Boink, a longtime friend from St. Benedict. Their long friendship gradually grew into more than that, and the two married in 2013.
Much to Jerry’s joy, Kathleen shared his love of fishing, and they spent many happy outings chasing bass at local lakes. They also enjoyed trips to the Ozarks, southern Michigan, and get-aways with Kathleen’s extended family at her brother’s “Country” cabin.
Jerry and Kathleen put great emphasis on maintaining relationships, old and new. They loved hosting family holiday gatherings, and as a Christmas present every year, they arranged trips for the whole extended family to stay at an Indiana state park the following summer.
In recent years, Jerry and Kathleen found a prayer group in Kentucky that became a big part of their lives, and they also rediscovered the Traditional Latin Mass, which both of them dearly loved from their youth. Their faith in God was the bedrock on which they built their sacrament, and they focused much effort and energy on the great love they shared.
Aside from his deep and abiding faith in God, the family remembers Jerry best for his sense of appreciation. He loved beauty and simple pleasures; wild things and wild places; and people. He had a charism for making people feel good about themselves, no matter their circumstances. He was forever counting his blessings and not his woes. He believed that if you could appreciate whatever blessings you had in your life, you had found the key to happiness.
During the past few years, Jerry was writing a book, to try to share the wisdom on relationships he had gained in his life experiences. One of the lines he penned in his manuscript describes well how he lived his conviction to the fullest: “How blessed I was to have lived this marvelous life!”
Praise God for a life well-lived. Rest in peace, Jerry Seng.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his first wife, Ann, and his brother, Robert.
He is survived by his wife, Kathleen (Bohm Boink); children, Kris (and Dave) McGill of Newburgh, Phil and Laura Seng of South Bend, Indiana, and Rebecca (and Mike) Fitzmaurice of Granger, Indiana; grandchildren, Nathan (and Stephanie) McGill, Miriam (and Brian) Reilly, Rachael McGill, Aaron (and Hayley) Seng, Justin Seng, Jenny (and Antonio) Marchi, John Paul Fitzmaurice, and Gregory Fitzmaurice; great-grandchildren, Gianna-Marie, Felicity, Ambrose, Elizabeth, and Joseph Seng; Aria and Crystal McGill; Mariella and Simeon Marchi; Hannah and Austin Reilly.
Visitation will be held Sunday, October 24, 2021, from 2:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Ziemer Funeral Home East Chapel, 800 S. Hebron Ave. The funeral service will begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday, October 25, 2021, at the funeral home and continue with a traditional Latin Requiem Mass at 10:00 a.m. at Saint Mary Catholic Church, 613 Cherry St., Evansville.
Memorial contributions may be made to Southwest Indiana Right to Life or St. Benedict Cathedral Parish or the Latin Mass Community at Saints Mary and John Parish.