Remembering Thaddeus Seymour

The Rollins community shares their favorite memories of Rollins’ beloved 12th president, Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H.

Photos from left: Courtesy Rollins College Archives, Scott Cook Photos from left: Courtesy Rollins College Archives, Scott Cook

Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rollins’ 12th president from 1978 to 1990, possessed a genuine brand of magic that touched countless lives, from students and families to faculty, staff, and the greater Orlando community. In the following collection of memories, the Rollins community honors Seymour with their favorite stories, which will stand as a lasting tribute to the beloved campus icon whose kindness knew no bounds.

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“The Thaddeus I knew could only be described as ebullient. He was a friend of my husband, Bob Lemon, who taught at Rollins when Thad was president. I got to know Thad well in 2008 when he and I were active in Phil Anderson’s campaign for city commission. I will never forget Thad, dressed in khakis, white sneakers and a ball cap, looking for all the world like a college cheerleader, leading the campaign volunteers in rah-rah cheers for Phil. How full of enthusiasm, humor, and vitality he was. His and Polly’s generosity of spirit will live on as part of the very fabric of Winter Park.” — Anne Mooney

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“Thad Seymour made it possible for me to finish my BA at Rollins. I desperately wanted to complete my undergraduate degree and needed the free tuition benefit available at that time to a full-time employee. After being turned down by Human Resources as ‘too qualified,’ I barged into Thad’s office without an appointment and pleaded my case! I poured out my heart and explained I would work full time and go to school full time at Hamilton Holt School at night for the next two years if only he would let me work for the College in any capacity where I could help. He made it possible for me to work in Annual Giving. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I was able to complete my degree in the next two years. I will forever be grateful to Thad Seymour and Rollins College for changing and saving my life in so many ways.” — Nancy Mayes Golly ’87

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“I came to Rollins as a transfer student from Denison University at the beginning of my junior year. Prior to my arrival, I had one good friend at Rollins, and when we were walking around the campus the first week I was there, she pointed out Thad driving around with Polly in his tan Beetle convertible and remarked, ‘Oh, that’s Thad, remember I told you about our really cool president? He is awesome.’ No more than a week later, I was getting my mail in the Student Center and Thad walked over to me and struck up a conversation. How he knew who I was will remain one of those great mysteries, but in retrospect I believe he took the time to study all of the incoming transfer students. He introduced himself and began the conversation with, ‘I wanted to tell you that you and I have something in common.’ At first I thought I had misunderstood, but he then explained that the class of 1982 was a special one, as it marked both of our ‘senior’ years at Rollins. He went on to say how happy he was that we would be ‘graduating’ together and gave me a big hug. It was literally a two-minute conversation, but I still tear up years later thinking about it. In one short encounter, he had made me feel like I had come home.” — Kristin Cooper Knutrud ’82

From left: Photo by Judy Watson Tracy, Courtesy Rollins College Archives (2)
From left: Photo by Judy Watson Tracy, Courtesy Rollins College Archives (2)

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“I’m truly blessed to have known Thad and had him as an English professor. I remember one time he took our class on his pontoon boat to his house for breakfast. It was great! He was the best and will surely be missed.” — Pamela Frost Cutrone ’94

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“I had the blessing of knowing Thad while on Panhellenic and Student Government while at Rollins. When I was applying for graduate school at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1988, I asked Thad if he would write a letter of recommendation for me, and I was thrilled when he said yes! We sat together in his office as he asked me questions about why I wanted to become an art teacher. When I had my interview at RISD, the director of graduate admissions shared how they’d never received a letter of recommendation from a college president. His recommendation definitely helped me get accepted to RISD. That acceptance forever changed the course of my life and the lives of the students I have taught over the years. The artistic instruction I gained at RISD helped me gain acceptance into the Winter Park Spring Arts Festival in 2003. Thad and Polly came to visit me at my booth, and it meant more to me than being accepted into the show. He was like a proud father with his twinkling eyes. It meant the world to me that they came. Years later when my oldest son was applying to Rollins, Thad met with him to discuss Rollins with that same sparkle in his eyes as I had remembered when I went straight to his office to share my grad school acceptance news with him. Over the years at every Rollins reunion that I’d attend, we’d talk about our shared love of Cape Cod, art, and our dear mutual friend, Kelly Ortwein Meyer. He never forgot a single memory or person. Thad to me was the waymaker for each of us at Rollins during his tenure as president. Thad has forever impacted every single student I have taught because of the exceptional character traits he taught me and doors he opened. Forever blessed and thankful to have been impacted by Thad.” — Laura Thompson McFaden ’87

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“I drive a Volkswagen Beetle convertible today. I think a part of it is because I saw Thad driving a Volkswagen convertible.” — Samuel Carpenter ’81