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James Curtis Seal


1946 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
James Curtis Seal Obituary
July 17, 1946 - February 5, 2016 Born on July 17, 1946 to Grace and James C. "Jimmy" Seal Sr., Jim grew up in South Central L.A. where he attended Nativity and St Bridget's schools, took piano lessons, and from a next door neighbor acquired a taste for jazz that would last a lifetime and lead to a large record collection. Another great pleasure was taking a trolley car downtown with his mother or grandmother to shop on Broadway. When Jim was 14 his homemaker mother and electrician father moved with his brother Greg and grandmother Mary Lanzalacqua to Cheviot Hills. Jim took the bus to Loyola High, and played the organ and sang in the choir at St. Timothy's. Jim didn't last long at the University of San Francisco, where his parents had signed him up for pre-med courses. Soon he hit the road in a Chevy with the back seat taken out for sleeping. Living on Cup-of-Gold candies and canned tuna, he worked as a circus roustabout, and wound up in Detroit where he became an inhalation therapist and hung out with friends in the Detroit Symphony. Jim remembered watching from the windows of Detroit General Hospital as US Army tanks rolled down Woodward Ave. in the summer of 1967 to put down the civil disturbances. Not long after, he moved to New York City, attending City College of New York, where during a brief flirtation with the Weathermen he landed in jail after occupying a campus building. He then joined a Venceremos Brigade and spent a month with them cutting sugar cane in Cuba. On his return to New York City he met his wife to be, Kathy, and together they returned to Los Angeles and found jobs on the assembly line, Jim at Ford Motor Company in Pico Rivera and Kathy at General Motors in South Gate. Both were active in union and political causes. After the auto plants shut down, they moved with their sons Zach and Jeff to Santa Monica, where Jim cultivated his interests in watching film noir movies and began dabbling in classic cars, culminating in one of his proudest ever purchases, a 1949 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Jim retrained as a bus driver, moving into management at Commuter Bus Lines in Lynwood and later driving the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus. He gradually morphed from a young radical into a political conservative. An assiduous autodidact and networker, he researched the demise of LA's trolley car system for a possible book and attended meetings of the LA County Transportation Commission. Soon he organized private bus companies into the Bus Association of Southern California, and helped these companies compete for transit contracts. Later he worked to form the Association of Independent Passenger Rail Operators, which promotes competition for intercity rail operations and a renaissance in the quality of U.S. rail service. His persuasive, passionate voice helped fashion AIPRO's legislation and other policy goals. Jim also worked as a consultant to the California Bus Association and to bus and rail companies, including Laidlaw, Veolia, Keolis and Herzog, often lobbying for transportation legislation in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Washington DC. He was a longtime active member of the Citizens Advisory Council to Metro in Los Angeles. Jim influenced his sons; Zach launched a free bus shuttle in downtown Oakland and serves as a union officer and Jeff is a comedian who makes socially conscious and comic videos. Jim will be terribly missed by his wife and sons and by his in-laws and many friends, for his cheerful energy and unstinting kindness. The family wishes to thank the wonderful doctors, nurses and other staff at Angeles Clinic and St. John's Hospital. Burial Tuesday, February 16th at 10am at Woodlawn Cemetery (1847 14th St, Santa Monica 90404.) Viewing at 9:30am. Memorial service TBA. Please direct donations to Cedars Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, (Colon Cancer Research), In Memory of Jim Seal, 8700 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, Ca 90048
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Feb. 14 to Feb. 15, 2016
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