Seawell remembered as proud, caring older brother
Robert William Seawell, who died last week under circumstances that stunned the community, was remembered yesterday as a caring older brother by his youngest sibling, Joseph Seawell.Robert, better known as Bill, took his own life last week after attempting to burn down the Aspen Country Inn complex where he resided, local authorities have concluded.Like other residents of the housing complex and Aspen in general, the Seawell family was shocked and saddened to hear of the events of last week, according to Joe.”We’re destroyed by it,” he said. Some family members are having difficulty accepting the police’s explanation of what occurred and coming to grips with his unexpected death.Bill was third eldest boy in a family of 13 children; Joe was the youngest. Bill left home at age 17, finished high school and attended college while holding down jobs to help support a household headed by his mother.
“The family would not have stayed together if not for Bill,” said Joe, who remembers his brother buying school clothes for his siblings and making sure their mother had money to buy coal to heat their Baltimore home.”Billy was always kind and generous. He would bend over backward,” Joe said.According to Joe, Bill was enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C., when he decided to leave medical school and head west. Joe, 17 years old and just out of high school in 1963, drove with him to California, where Bill landed a job with the Los Angeles Health Department.Always an athlete, Bill got interested in skiing after a visit to Idaho and then began taking trips to Aspen, eventually moving to the resort town in the early 1970s, Joe guessed, his recollection hazy.Bill lived the life of a ski bum, working in restaurants and skiing whenever he got a chance. He later worked as a caretaker.
“He was always concerned about having time to go skiing. He was obsessed with skiing,” Joe said.Bill married Wendy Gosewisch in Aspen in July 1981, but they later parted.At the Aspen Country Inn, an affordable housing complex that gives priority to local senior citizens and retirees, Bill was facing eviction for unpaid rent and damage to his apartment.Other tenants alleged he was dealing drugs there.Drugs may have “derailed” his life, Joe conceded. “I think he was probably dabbling in them. He just fell into that lifestyle in Aspen.”
Members of his extended family were unaware of Bill’s troubles or his pending eviction, according to Joe.”He wouldn’t ask for help. He never reached out to anybody, that’s how he was,” his younger brother said. “That’s the ultimate indignity, not having a place to live in.”It’s hard to believe it came to this. It’s sad.”A memorial service for Seawell is planned in Baltimore. A detailed obituary will be published at a later date.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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