Obituary: George C. Seward

Shelter Island resident George Chester Seward, the honorary life president of the International Bar Association in London and former partner at Seward & Kissel LLP, a New York City law firm, died on Wednesday, February 15, 2012, at his home in Scarsdale, New York. He was 101.

Mr. Seward joined Meyer, Kidder, Matz & Kissel, the law firm that would later become Seward & Kissel, in 1953.

Born August 4, 1910 in Omaha, Nebraska, his parents were Frank G. Seward and Ada L. Rugh Seward. He had one brother, Leslie Rugh Seward, who died at age eight in a swimming accident.

He transferred frequently among schools in Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Illinois and Indiana as required by his father’s business. He graduated from Louisville (Kentucky) Male High School, cum laude, and the University of Virginia, where he received a B.A. degree and an LL.B. degree, Phi Beta Kappa, Order of the Coif, and was a member of the University’s Raven Society.

He devoted himself principally to his law practice and was well-known as a business lawyer and director of a number of companies.

Under his leadership, Seward & Kissel was recognized world-wide for its work with clients in the private investment/hedge fund, banking and shipping industries. He was a partner at Seward & Kissel until December 1983 and had been senior counsel to the firm since that date, working three or four days a week through the end of 2011.

Mr. Seward was an active member of the American Bar Association as chairman of a committee that developed a model corporation act to govern the creation and operation of business corporations. It is used as a model by more than half of the American states. He was chairman of the ABA’s business law section and a member for 14 years of its governing body, the House of Delegates.

He became involved in the International Bar Association in the early 1960s and became its honorary life president.  Three heads of state — Rajiv Gandhi of India, Dr. Mario Soares of Portugal and Arpad Goncz of Hungary — have given “George Seward” lectures at the invitation of the IBA.

Mr. Seward was an officer or trustee of the University of Virginia Arts & Sciences Council (president); Phi Beta Kappa Associates, a fundraising arm of the United Chapters (president); Edwin Gould Foundation for Children (trustee); New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (trustee); and the American Bar Foundation Special Committee on Model Corporation Acts (chairman).

He was the author of “Basic Corporate Practice” and co-author of “Model Business Corporation Act Annotated.”

Mr. Seward was a member of a number of social clubs, including  New York Yacht Club, the Knickerbocker Club and the Down Town Association in New York City; Scarsdale Golf Club in Scarsdale; Gardiner’s Bay Country Club and Shelter Island Yacht Club on Shelter Island; Greencroft of Charlottesville, Virginia; Metropolitan Club of Washington, D.C.; University Club of Chicago; and the Bohemian Club of San Francisco.

Mr. Seward’s wife of 54 years, Carroll Frances McKay Seward of Suffolk, Virginia, died in 1991.

He is survived by four children: Gordon Day Seward, Patricia McKay Seward (Mrs. Dryden Grant Liddle), Dr. James Pickett Seward and Deborah Carroll Seward (Mrs. Roy Thomas Coleman); five grandchildren:  Andrew Gordon Seward, Dryden Jonathan Liddle, Ashley Shiona Liddle (Mrs. Andrew James Cole), Eric Thomas Coleman and Paige Carroll Coleman; and seven great-grandchildren: Nichole (“Nikki”) Elizabeth Seward, Thomas (“TJ”) Joseph Seward, Connor Stephen Seward, Thea Patricia Emily Cole, Sofie Shiona Isobel Cole, Beatrice Jennifer McKay Cole and Alastair William Dryden Liddle.

Family members and the partners of Seward & Kissel are planning a celebration of his life to be held this spring at the Down Town Association.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a gift to the donor’s own charity or to the University of Virginia to be added to the George and Carroll Seward Fund for scholarships, University of Virginia Development Office, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400220, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904.