FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Virginia Garrett Seelig, former music professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and wife of the seminary’s retired Vice President for Public Affairs John Seelig, passed away at the age of 88, Sept. 20.
Mrs. Seelig was born in Eastland, Texas, on Nov. 18, 1922, to Clyde L. and Allie Day Garrett, both deceased. Their five children are now deceased. Her father was a banker in his early days but soon entered politics, holding many city and county offices including county judge. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1940 and served two terms and later served as assistant to President Harry Truman. Her mother was an entrepreneur and was active in women’s legislative matters, local church affairs and real estate.
Mrs. Seelig received the Bachelor of Science degree from Hardin-Simmons University in 1946 and the Master of Music degree from North Texas University in 1969. She did additional graduate study at Southern Methodist University and studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. She served on the board of trustees at Hardin-Simmons for 10 years.
She married John Earl Seelig Oct. 19, 1947. They had two sons: Stephen Clyde Seelig and Timothy Garratt Seelig. In 1958 she joined the faculty in the School of Church Music at Southwestern Seminary, where she taught voice for 27 years, retiring in 1985.
She was an outstanding contralto soloist. Her many appearances included roles with the Dallas Opera, the TCU opera and three productions at Fort Worth’s Casa Manana: The Sound of Music, Camelot, and Amahl and the Night Visitors. She was a featured soloist throughout the United States including oratorio, recitals, conventions and conferences. After singing with the Billy Graham Crusade in Houston’s Astrodome, she and her longtime singing partner Joe Ann Shelton were invited to join the team for a month’s crusade in London, England. In addition to her own solo recordings on Word Records, she and Ms. Shelton recorded numerous albums.
She performed throughout Europe, the Greek Isles and the Holy Land. She was part of a command performance in Israel and Jordan as soloist. She was soloist in Handel’s Messiah presented for the King and the Queen of Jordan in the Royal Cultural Palace in Amman.
On Feb. 18, 1988, the seminary’s School of Church Music presented her with the Distinguished Service Award. Excerpts from the citation included:
“Virginia Seelig was an influence on hundreds of young people who have served God in churches, schools, and on the mission fields of the world. Her concern and personal attention for each student was particularly evident as she not only sought to teach the techniques of singing but also gave of herself to enrich the personal and spiritual lives of those in her charge. … She was warm and supportive of her fellow faculty members.
“She is known around the world for her singing; for the unique quality of her voice and her ability to communicate the true and deep meaning of the words she sings. … She is known for her sense of humor and her ability to enjoy life.”
The board of trustees at the seminary named a room in the Robert E. Naylor Student Center the John and Virginia Seelig Banquet Room in honor of their 57-plus years of service. Dr. Seelig is vice president for public affairs emeritus and served thirty years, 1960-1990. In 2008, the seminary also honored the Seeligs by giving them the L.R. Scarborough award.
After retirement, she and her husband spent a year in Hawaii serving the Hawaii Baptist Convention. She was a member of Southcliff Baptist Church, Forth Worth, where she and her husband led the early-bird senior adult Sunday school class for almost 30 years.
Mrs. Seelig’s parents, two brothers and two sisters preceded her in death. She is survived by her husband, Dr. John Earl Seelig, Forth Worth; two sons: Stephen Clyde Seelig, associate pastor of Second Baptist Church, Houston, and his wife Bonita; and Timothy Garrett Seelig, former artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale and voice professor at SMU, Dallas; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.