John F. Seiberling

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John Frederick Seiberling, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 14th district
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1987
Preceded byWilliam Hanes Ayres
Succeeded byThomas C. Sawyer
Personal details
Born(1918-09-08)September 8, 1918
Akron, Ohio
DiedAugust 2, 2008(2008-08-02) (aged 89)
Copley, Ohio
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseElizabeth Behr
Alma mater
AwardsLegion of Merit
Military service
AllegianceUnited States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1942–1946
Battles/warsWorld War II

John Frederick Seiberling, Jr. (September 8, 1918 – August 2, 2008) was a United States representative from Ohio. In 1974, he helped to establish what later became the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and served on the House Judiciary Committee that held the impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon.[1]

Early years[edit]

Born in Akron, Ohio, Seiberling attended the public schools of Akron, and Staunton Military Academy in Virginia. He received his A.B. from Harvard University in 1941. His parents, Lieut. John Frederick Seiberling (1888–1962) and Henrietta McBrayer Buckler (1888–1979), had been wed on October 11, 1917, in Akron, Ohio. He had two sisters: Mary Gertrude Seiberling (born 1920) and Dorothy Buckler Lethbridge Seiberling (born 1922). His paternal grandparents were Frank Seiberling, the founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and Gertrude Ferguson Penfield. His maternal grandparents were Julius Augustus Buckler and Mary Maddox.

The Legion of Merit Award

Army years[edit]

During World War II he served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1946. He was subsequently awarded the Legion of Merit for his participation in the Allied planning of the D-Day invasion.[2]

Education and law years[edit]

Seiberling received his LL.B. from Columbia Law School in 1949. In 1950, Seiblerling was admitted to the New York bar and went into private practice. He became an associate with a New York firm from 1949 to 1954, and then became a volunteer with the New York Legal Aid Society in 1950. From 1954 to 1970, he was an attorney with The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. He once took a leave of absence rather than cross the picket lines during a United Rubber Workers strike.[2][3] During this time he was a member of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission in Akron from 1964 to 1970.

Political life[edit]

In 1970, Seiberling won the Democratic nomination for Ohio's 14th congressional district, based in Akron. Running on an anti-Vietnam War platform, he then defeated 10-term Republican William H. Ayres by 12 points in a major upset. He would be reelected seven more times from this district,[3] He never faced substantive opposition in what became a solidly Democratic district. He won each of his seven reelection bids with over 70 percent of the vote. He did not run for reelection in 1986, and endorsed Akron Mayor Tom Sawyer as his successor. After his time in Congress, Seiberling served as faculty at the law school of the University of Akron from 1992 to 1996.

Political legacy[edit]

He participated in the 1975 Congressional delegation meetings in the Middle East that helped precipitate the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.[2] Seiberling is noted for helping effectively double the size of the United States National Park System via the 1980 Alaska Lands Act, adding approximately two-hundred million acres during his sixteen-year tenure in congress.


The Presidential Citizens Medal, was awarded to John Seiberling in 2001.

On January 8, 2001, he was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Clinton.[4] On Thursday, October 12, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law H.R. 6051, which designates the Federal building and United States courthouse in Akron as the John F. Seiberling Federal Building and United States Courthouse.[5] Seiberling's legacy is honored at 2370 Everett Road; a Covered bridge in Peninsula, Ohio. Known as the "Founding Father" of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Seiberling worked tirelessly during his sixteen-year tenure in congress to fulfill a childhood dream of establishing the Cuyahoga Valley as a protected part of the National Park System.

Family life and death[edit]

He married Elizabeth "Betty" Behr, a Vassar graduate, in 1949. They had three sons: John B., David and Stephen. John Seiberling's cousin, Francis Seiberling, was also a U.S. Representative from Ohio (Republican). His mother, Henrietta Buckler Seiberling, was a seminal figure in Alcoholics Anonymous' founding and core spiritual ideals.[6][7] His paternal grandfather was Frank Seiberling, founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.[6] The family's one-time home, Stan Hywet, is now a national museum.[6]

Seiberling died of respiratory failure at his home in Copley, Ohio on August 2, 2008.[1] His wife, Betty, died on May 23, 2017.


  1. ^ a b Downing, Bob (2008-08-02). "John Seiberling is dead at 89". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved 2008-08-02.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b c Walker Snider (2005). Archived April 12, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Downing, Bob (2008-08-03). "'An American hero' dies: Retired congressman who represented Akron for 16 years praised for his tireless work creating Cuyahoga Valley park, preserving wilderness". Akron Beacon Journal.
  4. ^ The White House - Office of the Press Secretary Archived August 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ President Designates United States Postal Service, Courthouse and Federal Building Facilities Archived May 8, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c University of Akron (n.d.). Archived August 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ (n.d.) Archived August 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.


External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by United States Representative (district 14) from Ohio
Succeeded by