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William "Bill" Seeker '60 July 24, 2020 10:48 AM updated: July 24, 2020 11:35 AM

William A. Seeker

Dr. William A. Seeker, President Emeritus of The College of the Florida Keys, passed away at his home in Cudjoe Key, Florida on July 1, 2020, at the age of 81.

Seeker, known as “Doc” or “Bill,” was survived by his brother, Ben Seeker (Kay); sister, Suzanne Morris; nieces Shannon Sue Elizalde (Tony), Amy Michelle Power, Jen Seeker (Fiance-Joel), Kari Seeker Mika and Shelby Seeker Colley (Justin); numerous great nieces and nephews; his caretaker and friend of 14 years, Kathy Bansen, and his beloved Siamese cats Aggie and Maggie. He is preceded in death by his parents, Sue and Albert Seeker.

Seeker was born in Brenham, Texas in 1938. The grandson of German immigrants, his father was a laborer and his mother was a nurses attendant. Although they struggled financially and did not have the opportunity to attend college themselves, Seeker’s parents were nurturing and supportive of their children’s education.

Upon enrolling in Texas A&M University, Seeker became the first in his family to attend college. Becoming an Aggie fulfilled his ancestors’ American Dream and sparked the young Seeker’s passion for education.

Seeker earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Texas A&M University before he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1960. He served as a paratrooper and later reached the rank of captain, commanding a platoon in the 22nd Battle Group, Strategic Army Command. With assistance from the G.I. Bill, Seeker went on to earn a master’s degree from Sam Houston University. His career in the military shifted to higher education when he taught his first class: Biology at New Mexico Military Institute.

So taken with the exhilaration of teaching, Seeker earned a Ph.D. in educational administration from Texas A&M and followed his calling to educational leadership.

In 1979, Seeker became the third president of Florida Keys Community College, as the college was then named. He oversaw the growth of programs including diving, emergency medical services, welding, public safety, and ceramics as well as the expansion of college facilities including the additions of centers in the Middle and Upper Keys and the Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center. Seeker proudly fought hard for resources for the smallest college in the state system.

Notably, he garnered $40 million from the state legislature to rebuild the Key West campus in 1997, which was in dire need of repair. The accomplishment prompted the campus to be named in his honor. Upon his retirement in 2007, he was bestowed the title of President Emeritus by the college’s Board of Trustees for his 28 years of leadership and service.

In the year prior to his retirement, Seeker initiated his proudest contribution to the college. With a generous donation to the college’s educational foundation, he established an endowed scholarship to assist students who, like him, struggle to be the first in their families to earn a college degree.

Over the past 13 years, the Sue and Albert Seeker First Generation in College Scholarship, named in honor of his parents, has helped to open the doors to a college education for hundreds of CFK students.

In his heyday in the Keys, Seeker brushed elbows with the likes of Tennessee Williams and Jimmy Buffett and was even considered a local celebrity himself — once famously winning a “Most Eligible Bachelor” contest. More importantly, he always prioritized connecting with the college community and employed a “management by walking” leadership approach to personally reach as many people as possible. Affectionately known as “Doc” on campus, he was often seen on campus in his signature Hawaiian shirts and talking with students, faculty, and staff.

The college will hold a Celebration of Life ceremony in memory of Dr. Seeker on Monday, July 13, at 6 p.m. in the courtyard of the William A. Seeker/Key West Campus. Attendees are asked to wear a face mask and maintain physical distance of 6 feet during the event.

Donations in Seeker’s memory can be made to the Sue and Albert Seeker First Generation in College Scholarship fund at the College of the Florida Keys Foundation at 5901 College Road, Key West, FL 33040.

© Copyright The Key West Citizen, All Rights Reserved


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