A tour with the U.S. Air Force in Korea was the start of a lifetime of service for Ron Seman, who on Nov. 7 is scheduled to be one of 15 new inductees into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. The ceremony will be conducted at 11 a.m. at Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, where the Class of 2013 inductees will join the 428 others enshrined in the Hall.
A press release from the Ohio Veterans Service Commission states the Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing Ohio veterans who, after their military service, put their skills and abilities to work in their local communities. They are veterans who have continued to serve others, and by their continued service and positive accomplishments, inspired their fellow citizens, the release states.
For Seman, who writes the Veterans Beat column for Record Publishing Company’s weekly division, it’s an honor he can say is partly of his own making — he worked full time as an adviser on veterans affairs for former Gov. George Voinovich when Voinovich established the Hall of Fame in 1992.
“It’s a nice honor since I was in on the founding of this,” Seman said. “It was an idea we floated, and the governor asked his people in Columbus to establish the program.”
Seman, 81, served in communications in the U.S. Air Force from 1952 to 1956, including the last 10 months of the Korean War, where he was stationed in Pusan. On his redeployment back to the states, he finished his service at Shepard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he worked for the base radio station.
“That was my full-time job,” Seman said. “I worked as an announcer, I did play-by-play sports for sports on base … I ended up being station manager before I left the service.”
His stint in radio served him well. After leaving the service, he continued working in radio while studying speech and journalism at Kent State University on the GI Bill. By taking summer classes, he got his degree in three years and spent the next 11 years in public relations for the American Society for Metals in Novelty.
He ended up working in public relations for Cleveland Mayor Ralph Perk in the early 1970s.
He previously met Perk at the opening ceremony of the 1972 Metal Show convention, where Seman arranged to have the mayor open the convention by cutting through a ceremonial “ribbon” of titanium with a torch.
Though covered with gloves, goggles and a welding vest, nothing was covering the mayor’s freshly barbered head and the resulting sparks ended up igniting the mayor’s hair.
“Despite this, he later hired me,” Seman said.
When Dennis Kuchinich was elected in 1977, “He chased all of us out,” Seman said.
Seman found a post with the federal government as a public affairs officer with the Defense Contract Administration Services in the Federal Building next to Cleveland City Hall, where a few years later the incoming Voinovich administration hired him for two mayoral terms, followed by service with former Mayor Michael White.
“I used to write proclamations at home in the morning, drop them off at city hall, go to the federal building and do my job, then after work go back to city hall for information for the next day’s proclamations,” Seman said. “I always had something to do.”
After 10 years at the Federal Building, another reorganization threatened his position, so he called his former boss, now Gov. Voinovich.
“I called and told him I was looking for a job,” Seman recalled. He ended up writing resolutions recognizing veterans and veterans groups, and representing the governor up to four times per week at functions.
Seman estimates he has written more than 20,000 “resolutions, proclamations, constituent mail, and other congratulatory documents for Mayors Ralph J. Perk, George V. Voinovich and Michael R. White, and Gov. Voinovich.”
Seman also worked for local newspapers, serving as a correspondent for the Plain Dealer, and Cleveland Press, before shifting to a weekly veterans column for the former Cleveland Press during its last year of publication — “My friends always say I was the one who put them out of business,” Seman quips.
Seman said he had also begun writing a newsletter on behalf of numerous veterans service organizations.
He said that newsletter evolved into his regular column for Record Publishing Co., which he has been writing for the past 26 years.
Seman also worked with Chester J. Koch, Cleveland Coordinator of Patriotic Activities — and the only other Cuyahoga County native in the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.
When Koch died in 1989, Seman took over Koch’s duties, serving as chairman and master of ceremonies for Cleveland’s annual Memorial Day, Flag Day and Veterans’ Day programs.
Seman married his wife Mary Ann in 1959. The couple now live in Parma and have four children and six grandchildren.