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Published: 9/7/2010

Orval D. Seydlitz, 1928-2010: Toledo accountant got start in theaters

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Orval D. Seydlitz, who was born in a dirt-floor farmhouse in Nebraska and became an accounting firm partner in Toledo after studying on a piece of plywood plunked across two orange crates, died Friday in St. Luke's Hospital.

Mr. Seydlitz, a month shy of his 82nd birthday, continued to do accounting work for his clients even though he had been hospitalized for nearly six weeks.

The cause of death apparently was a massive heart attack, his daughter Jo Ann Bujarski said.

An accountant with Ernst & Ernst beginning in the 1950s, and then with the firm after it became Ernst & Young, Mr. Seydlitz advanced to become a partner in 1970.

He was expected to work weekends during the busy tax season, and he honed his tax preparation skills by working on returns on Sundays.

He retired from the firm in 1988, and then operated his own accounting business.

Workdays often ran late into the night for Mr. Seydlitz, a tradition rooted in his agricultural connections. He often recalled to his daughter the many times, after dashing home from high school, when he would still be toiling in the fields at midnight, driving tractor, on his family's farm north of Lincoln, Neb.

And, too, he would tell of his first educational experience - in a one-room country school (yes, he walked to school). Later, he commuted to school over gravel and dirt roads.

A staunch believer in education, Mr. Seydlitz enrolled in Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, but lacked money to complete his degree, Mrs. Bujarski said.

A Korean War veteran, he made his way to Chicago with an Army buddy; they dreamed of being in the theater business. However, Mr. Seydlitz ended up as a tour guide, traveling the Windy City aboard a bus.

On one of his tours, he met a passenger named Ruth Young who was living in Chicago at the time. Miss Young, who grew up near Tiffin, was taking her mother, who had come to visit, on the sightseeing tour.

Mr. Seydlitz later married Miss Young.

After getting his big break in the theater world - working nights for free in a projection booth in Yellow Springs - he was a projectionist in theaters in Hailey, Idaho, and then in Gardiner, Mont., near the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, where he also was theater manager.

Always a practical man, Mr. Seydlitz saw the writing on the theater wall when television took off as the new whiz-bang invention. Figuring the curtain was coming down, he followed his wife's suggestion to pursue a career in accounting.

After studying for his new profession, Mr. Seydlitz was hired as bookkeeper for the Crawford County Farm Bureau in Bucyrus.

From there he landed an accounting position with Ernst & Ernst in Toledo.

"Orval was very well respected in the business," said Clarence Metzger, who worked with Mr. Seydlitz at Ernst & Young.

"I have known a lot of accountants, but have never known one that was more honest and straightforward. I would trust him with anything. He was a very good man."

When it was time to devote his energies to something other than work, Mr. Seydlitz would head for the golf course. Didn't much matter where. Ohio, Idaho, Florida, and places in between.

"He golfed everywhere he could," Mrs. Bujarski said.

When he wasn't on the greens, he was tending to things growing green in his Toledo yard. Gardening and golf were his hobbies and his passion, his daughter said.

Mr. Seydlitz was known in his neighborhood as someone who always tended to his yard and his flower beds, she said.

Mr. Seydlitz was active in the Toledo Chapter of the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants, serving on many committees. He was a former chapter president and was a member of the state board of directors.

For seven years he was treasurer of the Toledo Opera Association and then was treasurer of the Toledo Opera Guild.

He was treasurer for three years of the Sapphire Ball and was named an honorary trustee of the Toledo Opera Guild for 2006-2007.

He is survived by daughters, Ruth Ann Seydlitz and Jo Ann Bujarski, and two grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. tomorrow in Coyle Funeral Home, 1770 South Reynolds Rd. Services will be private.

The family suggests tributes to the Salvation Army or the Cherry Street Mission.

Contact Janet Romaker at:

jromaker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6006.



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