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Arthur R. Seder, of Williamsburg, died July 14, 2015, at the age of 95.
He was born in 1920 and spent his school years in St. Paul, Minnesota. He entered Northwestern University in 1939 where he met his wife-to-be, Marion Francis Heltzel.
In the fall of 1941, Mr. Seder left college to join the U.S. Army Air Corps, graduating from aerial navigation training in February 1942 as a second lieutenant. He and Marion were married shortly thereafter.
Mr. Seder was assigned to teach aerial navigation to Air Corps cadets and by 1943, had been promoted to captain. However, he was intent on becoming a pilot and was accepted for pilot training at that time. He received his pilot’s wings in early 1944 and after completing air crew training, flew to England, where he was assigned to the 401st Bombardment Group. There he flew 26 missions as a lead B-17 bomber pilot and was assigned assistant group operations officer and promoted to the rank of major.
Shortly after his separation from the service in September 1945, Mr. Seder entered Northwestern University’s School of Law in Chicago. There he became co-editor of the Northwestern Law Review with John Paul Stevens, later a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Seder graduated from law school in 1947 summa cum laude and was a member of the Order of the Coif.
In 1948, Mr. Seder was chosen to be a law clerk to Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson of the Supreme Court, acting in that capacity until 1950. He then returned to Chicago and joined the law firm now known as Sidley & Austin where he became a partner in 1955. In 1960, while remaining a member of the firm, he became part of the general counsel of American Natural Gas Company, later renamed American Natural Resources Company, with headquarters in Detroit.
In 1973, Mr. Seder was elected president of American Natural and in 1976 became chairman and chief executive officer. He held that position until his retirement in 1985, during which time he also served as chairman of the national association of the interstate gas pipelines and was primarily responsible for construction of the nation’s first synthetic coal gasification plant.
While living in Detroit, Mr. Seder held a number of civic positions, including chairman of the Detroit Economic Club, chairman of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and chairman of the Board of Saint John Hospital. Upon his retirement, the Detroit City Council awarded him a key to the city in recognition of his civic services.
Following his retirement in 1985, Mr. and Mrs. Seder moved to northern Virginia where they operated a cattle farm while he also resumed the practice of law in Washington, D.C. In 1998, Mr. and Mrs. Seder moved to Williamsburg.
There, Mr. Seder served on the Friends of the Library Board at the College of William & Mary and also taught a course on the Supreme Court and the constitution at sessions of the Christopher Wren Association at William and Mary. Mr. Seder was also a life trustee of Northwestern University and served for many years as president of the 401st Bombardment Group Association.
Mr. Seder is survived by his wife of 73 years; daughters, Susan LaHoda and Elizabeth Whistler and her spouse, Joseph P. Whistler; daughter-in-law, Julia Seder; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his son, James Seder.
Please leave online condolences for the family at Nelsen Funeral Home.
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