By Dedra Cordle
Families – those by blood and those by choice – were highlighted during the village of Urbancrest’s seventh annual Black History celebration.
Among the night’s celebrants were Eugene Seabury and Glenn Seabury Sr., a father and son team who set out to make a difference in the world of local politics and in the lives of those in the community.
Born in 1901, Eugene Seabury became the village’s first mayor in 1948 – the year it was incorporated. Though Eugene Seabury only served as mayor for one year, he is credited with a plethora of actions that led to the betterment of the community.
Under his administration, the village wrote the first Code of Codifying Ordinances, established positions and made appointments for essential offices such as the village clerk, village solicitor, village treasurer and street commissioner and also created a depository system for the safekeeping of funds.
The Seabury administration is also granted the Ohio Fuel Gas Company and the Columbus and Southern Electric Company permission to lay pipe and other equipment in village grounds to bring natural, mixed or manufactured gas and electric, heat and power to the residents in the community.
Thirty-four years after Eugene Seabury finished his term in office, his son Glenn Seabury Sr. became the seventh mayor of the village. While serving one term, Seabury Sr. and his administration created the Community Improvement Corporation of Urbancrest, established an American Legion Post and came to an agreement with Ohio Bell to bury telephone cables in the village. His administration is also credited with the purchase of a computer system and software to make the village records more organized and efficient.
Though both Eugene and his son Glenn are now deceased, their spirit of service to Urbancrest lives on. Their kin, Shawn Moore, has been a long-time member of the village council and accepted the award on behalf of the Seabury family. Moore said she and the rest of the Seabury family felt honored by the recognition.
Another father and son team honored during the festivities was John Henry Cooley Sr. and John Albert Cooley.
John H. Cooley came to Urbancrest in 1921 with the goal to build a home, grow crops and open his own grocery store. He accomplished all of those things.
After a fire destroyed his store, he promised to rebuild. With the help of friends and family, he did just that. Unfortunately, John H. Cooley lost his life in a locomotive accident in the 1940s.
Though devastated by the loss, the Cooley family knew they had to continue to operate the store. It was run by his son, John A. Cooley and his wife Grace until they had to close Cooley’s Market for good in the 1970s.
Edward Cooley, the son of John A. Cooley, accepted the Ellen Walker-Craig Jones Community Service Award on their behalf.
“It is an honor to stand on the behalf of my grandfather and father,” said Edward. “My father loved everybody in Urbancrest.”
Edward said his father was known throughout the community as someone who cared about others.
“If you were hungry, dad made sure you got something to eat.”
Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. said these two men truly made a difference in the lives of others.
“If it was not for them, we may not be here today.”
Elizabeth Allen and her son Andrew J. Christian were also named recipients of the Community Service Award for their contributions to the village. Barnes said AJ&C Bait, the store they opened and operated – which later became AJ&C Grocery – is a landmark in the village.
Also receiving Community Service Awards were Jackson Township Fire Chief Rick Dawson, Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott and Adam Slack with the U.S. Postal Service.
Barnes said Dawson and his department go well beyond the call of duty by providing care and comfort to those in distress and added that Scott has done everything in his power to provide safety to the community.
“He brought us a community block watch, classes on burglar-proofing your homes, self-defense classes for women, the bike patrol and even got us a substation here,” said Barnes. “If that is not a friend to the village, I don’t know what is.”
Veronica Shepherd was there to honor Slack, who she said everyone in the village admires.
“He has a spirit of love, devotion and caring,” she said.
The village also presented the Distinguished Service Award to attorney Otto Beatty Jr. and Judge Grady L. Pettigrew Jr. Both had served as the village solicitor in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively.
Beatty said that while he appreciates the honor bestowed upon him, he believes all praise should be given to the residents in the community due to their willingness to band together and make a better life for future generations.
“I remember how Urbancrest was, how it was neglected by others,” he said. “But the people in Urbancrest had the tenacity, the focus, a purpose and a willingness to work to make it a better place.”
He said with that spirit, the village would continue to be on the move.