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JACK SEWARD

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JACK SEWARD Obituary
JACK SEWARD, one of the world's legendary authorities on Japan and a U.S. military veteran, passed away on November 10, 2010 at the age of 86 in Houston, Texas from post-stroke complications. A man of great intelligence, Jack leaves behind a legacy of international accomplishment and service.Born John Neil Seward Jr. in Houston, Texas on October 11, 1924, 'Jack' grew up in Dallas and upon graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1941, started attending the University of Oklahoma. During this period, an act of chance introduced him to his life-long connection to Japan - while spending several summers with his father John Seward Sr. working on the Frank Phillips ranch in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, two Japanese co-workers started to teach him some Japanese language. At the age of 18, he volunteered for active duty in the Army, and upon discovering his knowledge of Japanese, the Army enrolled him in a special military intelligence training unit on Japan at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor where he graduated two years later second in his class.As a commissioned officer in military intelligence, Jack served under General Douglas MacArthur's staff command during the occupation of Japan. This was the beginning of his 25 years spent living in Japan. After his tenure in the Army, he served in the Central Intelligence Agency as part of their Asian operations before moving into the private sector where he worked in Tokyo as the Far East representative of several U.S. corporations such as Sunbeam Corp and Scholastic Books as well as for Japanese companies such as the Yashica Camera Company. His father John Sr., a WW I veteran, moved to Japan during these years to join Jack. John Sr. lived in Japan for over a decade, where he remarried to Kimiko Uema of Okinawa, and together had one son - John Sr. passed away in Tokyo in 1964. In 1963, Jack married Aiko 'Jean' Morimoto of Shikoku, Japan, and together had two sons. Over the course of these years, he built his reputation as a leading Japan expert and linguist, obtained a doctorate's degree following post-graduate studies at the University of Hawaii, and also commenced pursuing his interest in writing books.Thereafter, Jack returned to his native Texas with his family in order to spend time with his mother Lanelle Denny and her husband Jack Newman on their family ranch near Celeste, Texas, and to concrete on his writing and teaching. He taught courses on Japanese culture, history and language at the University of Texas at Dallas and at Austin College, and lectured frequently throughout the states including television appearances on Japanese culture and how to do business with the Japanese. In later years, he worked for Ecology and Environment of New York as director of international operations, and then served as president of International Consulting Services, Inc in Houston.Jack wrote a total of 45 books, published in Japan and the U.S., covering a broad spectrum of fiction and non-fiction. His first published work was 'The Cave of the Chinese Skeletons' in 1965, a semi-reflection of his storied years as an intelligence officer in Japan. His best known work was 'The Japanese', published by William Morrow & Co in 1972 which was selected for inclusion by the Readers Digest book club making it the most widely read book on Japan culture with millions of copies sold at a time of growing Japanese economic power. His longest selling book was 'Japanese in Action', a commentary on the Japanese language and how to study it, originally published in 1969 by Weatherhill Inc. He also wrote many supplementary textbooks for use in the Japanese school system for students studying English - these textbooks were immensely popular in Japan resulting in a generation of Japanese students who grew up familiar with his name. With complete Japanese language fluency, he also wrote books in the Japanese language such as 'Tekisasu no Koinobori' in order to explain American culture to the Japanese.In 1986, the Emperor of Japan awarded Jack the Order of the Sacred Treasure for his widely-recognized contributions to mutual understanding and strengthening of relations between the U.S. and Japan.Jack lived his life to the fullest, always choosing his own path - an inspiration to all his family, friends and students. He was a world traveler, and also a strong supporter of environmental conservation and animal welfare.Jack leaves a legacy of international values stretching beyond Japan, which is partially reflected in his surviving family - wife Jean, sons John Neil Seward III and William Kenneth Seward, brother Robert Uema Seward, grandchildren, extended family members and friends.John is married to Ligia (a Brazilian national) with two daughters - they were long-term residents of Tokyo, who now live in Singapore where John works as global head of legal, compliance and assurance of wholesale banking for the British bank Standard Chartered Bank, while maintaining farming businesses in Hawaii and Brazil. Bill is married to Leydi (a Honduran national), and previously worked in Osaka - they live in Houston where Bill owns hydroponic businesses. Bob is married to Madeleine (a British national) with two daughters who live in Tokyo where Bob works as a senior corporate banker for the German bank Deutsche Bank.The Seward family would like to thank Jack's long-time physician Dr. George Thomas Keith, home nurse Kathleen Hannah, and home caregiver Dante for all their attention over the past few years in taking care of Jack.Jack's iconic spirit will be dearly missed by family and friends around the globe.A private graveside service was held on November 13, 2010 at Forest Park Cemetery.
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Published in Houston Chronicle on Nov. 14, 2010
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