Tobias "Toby" Seiler Jr., 95, Rochester, died at 3:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, at Woodlawn Hospital.
Born April 6, 1925, in Oak Park, Ill., to Tobias A. and Nellie (Bradley) Seiler, he was the couple's ninth child and the first to be delivered in the hospital. He was brought into the world by Dr. Clarence Hemingway, father of the novelist Ernest.
On Dec. 24, 1943, he married his high school sweetheart, Betty J. Brittain, whom he met at age 12 at a skating party. Their pre-war ceremony was at Amarillo, Texas, where he was stationed for U.S. Army Air Corps airplane mechanics training and would soon leave for gunnery school in Las Vegas.
A member of America's Greatest Generation, Toby enlisted in the Army following graduation from Peru High School in 1943. He was a top turret gunner on a B17G airplane and flew 35 missions during World War II, participating in campaigns in Rhineland, Central Europe and Ardennes as part of the 34th Bombing Group, Third Air Division. His military decorations include the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the European/Americas/Middle East Campaign Theater Ribbon with Three Bronze Stars and the Air Medal with Five Oak Leaf Clusters.
Tech Sgt. Seiler was discharged Sept. 7, 1945, joined his wife in Peru and went to work as a serviceman for Northern Indiana Public Service Company – known as the gas company. He made many, many late night service trips in the dead of winter, helping keep the community warm and fed for 37 years.
He and Betty raised five children and moved to Rochester in 1974. They spent time with the NIPSCO friends, camped and took fishing trips. Toby was a handyman extraordinaire, passing his skills to his sons and keeping his property in top shape. He enjoyed landscaping and worked several years at The Blooming Corner. He spent hours upon hours as Betty's crafting backup man. He enjoyed woodworking well into his later years.
Toby retired in 1983 and they subsequently spent nearly 20 winters in Florida, enjoying the sun and surf with Betty's sister, Pauline Prible and her husband Paul.
To his grandchildren he was known as the Chicken King, in reference to the hairstyles they gave him and the chicken dance he enjoyed at special occasions. He also was their annual Santa Claus up until his death. He told really corny jokes and offered banana splits that he sometimes did not produce.
Toby is survived by: His son Jay and wife MaryAnn, Kokomo; his daughter-in-law Carolyn Williams and son Dr. Jerry Seiler with wife Deanna and their children Keanon, Bryce and Adelyn; his daughter Sindy Zirkle with son Brad, daughter Janette and husband Donnie Adams and their daughters Ashley and Kenley and daughter Amy and husband Joseph Kruger and son Cannon; son Toby Joe Seiler and his wife Christina and children Timothy Sommers, Jon and wife Felicia, Catherine and Alison; daughter Joanie and husband Jeff Sackett and their children, Beth Seiver and husband Jay and their children Avery and Charlotte, Caitlin and husband Nick Gallegos and Meris and husband Zach Furlow; cousin Bob Brittain, special friend Audrey Nunley, and dozens of Seiler nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife Betty on July 31, 1999, granddaughter Jeanne Ann Seiler, son Kenny, son-in law Dave Zirkle and his eight older siblings, Gertrude, Esther, Bernard, Rosalyn, Martha, John, Francis and Dorothy.
A Mass of Christian Burial is at 11 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 12 at St. Charles Catholic Church, Peru, with Rev. Adam Mauman officiating. Visitation is one hour prior to the service at the church and burial will be in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Peru, with graveside military rights accorded by the Miami County Military Rights Team. Eikenberry-Eddy Funeral Home has faithfully served the Seiler Family for decades.
Memorials may be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the family suggests you give the lifesaving gift of blood through the American Red Cross.
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