David Seaton (1939-2020)

Oct 30, 2020


Frederick David Seaton, 80, died Saturday, April 18, 2020, at William Newton Hospital in Winfield.

The family plans a small graveside service at Highland Cemetery in Winfield through Shelley Family Funeral Home, with a larger memorial service to be announced later.

David was born June 16, 1939, in Manhattan and grew up in Coffeyville, Kansas, where he became an Eagle Scout and competitive swimmer. He graduated from Field Kindley High School in Coffeyville and from Harvard University, where he majored in history and was a member of the swim team. He later earned a master’s degree from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

David, as he was known, married Carolyn “Callie” Gaede Allen on June 29, 1963, in Bangor, Maine. The couple served two years in the Peace Corps in Muqui, Brazil, where they helped to build neighborhood schools.

After returning to the U.S., they eventually settled in the Washington, D.C., area where David served as press secretary and legislative aide to former Kansas Senator Jim Pearson.

With three young children, the family returned to Kansas in Neodesha. The couple purchased and rehabilitated an aging downtown hotel, where David operated Seaton International, an exporting business concentrating on sales of farm equipment to Latin America.

In 1978, the Seaton family moved to Winfield, and David went to work for Winfield Publishing Company, part of the Seaton Newspaper Group, which has seen four generations of family members operate newspapers in Kansas and other states.

David served as editor and publisher of the Winfield Daily Courier from 1981 to 2009. During that time, the company expanded to purchase the Newkirk (Oklahoma) Herald Journal and the Arkansas City Traveler. David remained an active owner and was chairman of the board for Winfield Publishing at the time of his death.

As editorialist for the Courier, and later the CourierTraveler, Seaton expressed strong opinions on many issues, including public education, historic preservation, and racial and religious tolerance. Campaign finance reform and moderation in the Republican Party were other favorite topics.

He won several awards through the years for his editorials and a column, “A Little Extra,” which chronicled a range of more personal topics, from gardening to being a grandfather. He often used the column to memorialize citizens of Cowley County.

David was a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather who, in later years, relished discussing topics of the day around the dinner table with family and retiring by a warm fire in the ranch-style home he and Callie built on Kitch Road, just outside Winfield.

He supported Callie’s painting career, and together they collected works by Kansas artists to display in their home.

He loved long summer vacations at the family home in Sullivan, Maine, where he learned to sail and make delicious blueberry pies. He enjoyed hunting, gardening, golfing, fly fishing, swimming and book clubs.

David’s long list of associations and activities include first chairman of the Winfield Main Street program and chair of a statewide advisory committee on Main Street. He was a past president of the Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce and a longtime member of the Winfield Rotary Club.

David served on the Winfield Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force, Celebrate Winfield History, the Baden Square re-use committee, the Marquee restoration committee and the Creative Community Living board.

He was a member of the Kansas State Highway Task Force that recommended major statewide improvements in 1987. He chaired the Governor’s Mental Health Services Planning Council in 1988.

David served as president of the Kansas Press Association in 1991 and was inducted into the KPA Hall of Fame in 2010.

He was a former trustee of KPTS-TV and a former member of the Kansas Humanities Commission and the Kansas State Historical Society.

In recent years, he led a successful fundraising effort to produce a documentary about William Allen White. He devoted much of his retirement to writing a book about Senator Pearson. He was slated to become chair of the Kansas Historical Foundation.

David was preceded in death by a daughter-in-law, Shannon S. Seaton.

He is survived by his wife, Callie, of the home; his father’s wife, Eva Seaton, of Coffeyville, Kansad; siblings Richard H. Seaton Sr. and Edward L. Seaton, both of Manhattan, Kansas, and Elizabeth S. Hall of Eugene, Oregon; daughter Elizabeth G. Seaton and spouse, Andy Badeker, of Alma, Kansas; daughter Rebekah C. Seaton and spouse, Jack Moynihan, of West Hartford, Connecticut; son, David A. Seaton of Arkansas City, Kansas; and seven grandchildren, Eleanor, Quinn, Owen, William, Miles, Lillian and Isaiah.

Memorial contributions are suggested to Winfield Main Street, the Kansas Historical Foundation or the Coffeyville Reawakening Fund of the Coffeyville Area Community Foundation. Contributions can be mailed or delivered to Shelley Family Funeral Home, 803 Loomis St., Winfield, KS 67156.