Phyllis E. Seabolt, an assistant professor emerita of consumer resources and technology at Western Michigan University, died July 13. She was 93.
Seabolt, of Kalamazoo, joined the WMU faculty in 1970 and retired in 1987 after more than 16 years of service to the University. Survivors include a sister, Dr. Martha Warfield, WMU vice president for diversity and inclusion.
Phyllis E. Seabolt
At WMU, Seabolt taught family life education courses and was active in several organizations.
She was a board member for the Michigan Council on Family Relations, Michigan Association Concerned With School-aged Parents, Planned Parenthood and Continuing Education for Young Families. She also was a member of the American and Michigan Home Economics associations, Delta Sigma Theta public service sorority and Delta Kappa Gamma honorary society for women educators.
Seabolt graduated from WMU twice, earning a bachelor's degree in 1947 and a master's degree in 1962. As a college student, she was involved in social justice events on campus and in the Kalamazoo community.
But when she graduated in 1947, African Americans were not allowed to teach at the secondary level in Kalamazoo. Seabolt became the first one to do so when Kalamazoo Public Schools hired her that year to teach at what became South Junior High School. She moved from that district 21 years later to take her assistant professor position in WMU's College of Education and Human Development.
Following her retirement from the University, Seabolt refocused her energy on community engagement. She was active with the Saturday Eves Book Club and Kalamazoo Association of Retired School Personnel as well as Delta Sigma Theta and Delta Kappa Gamma. She also worked in two food pantries sponsored by Loaves and Fishes.
In addition, Seabolt and other community supporters worked to establish the private collection of more than 3,000 books on the African-American experience that belonged to Mary Mace Spradling, a Kalamazoo Public Library staff member. The collection was donated to the Arcadia Campus of Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is considered the finest collection of such books in southwest Michigan.
After the death of her husband, Seabolt moved to Friendship Village in Kalamazoo and continued to participate in learning experiences. They included the Resilience Project, a program developed to provide mentoring relationships between village residents and freshman students at WMU who participate in the Seita Scholars and Kalamazoo Promise programs.
A visitation service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, July 20, in the First United Methodist Church, 212 S. Park St. in Kalamazoo. A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. to noon, followed by a luncheon at the church.
The burial ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. at Mt. Ever-Rest Cemetery in Kalamazoo.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Phyllis E. Seabolt Scholarship Endowment in WMU's College of Education or the Stewart Family Reunion Education Scholarship Fund.
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