Original URL: http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/feb05/301562.asp

Seaver helped older, abused women
She’s credited with first program for this group
By AMY RABIDEAU SILVERS
asilvers@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Feb. 13, 2005

For older victims of domestic violence, Carol Seaver was the human lifeline who pulled them to safety.

Seaver became the prime mover for a program at the Milwaukee Women’s Center - the Older Abused Women’s program - that was the first in the country geared to helping older victims of domestic violence. She and a friend, Bernice Noble, worked with the center to develop the program in 1992. Seaver became its director, first working part time, then full time, with older women.

And she dreamed of developing quiet, private shelter space for her clientele. The Carol Seaver Suites at the Milwaukee Women’s Center emergency shelter were dedicated in her honor late last year. The official dedication was rushed as Seaver’s health began to fail.

“Thank God she got to see it,” said Noble, a program volunteer. “It was named in her honor and she deserved that.”

Seaver, who lived on Milwaukee’s east side, died of breast cancer Thursday. She was 66.

The two suites will be available within weeks, with space for older or disabled women fleeing domestic violence.

“Carol had the gift to reach out to others and make them realize they were somebody and abuse was not right,” Noble said.

“She has saved lives,” said Pat Holland, case manager for the program.

In her work with the program, Seaver helped victims find the strength to walk away. She helped arrange for counseling and restraining orders. She and Noble began support groups in 1993.

Journal Sentinel columnist Bill Janz told the story of one woman whom Seaver helped. The woman was 88 and a virtual prisoner in her own home. Her husband would holler at her, shove her, threaten to strangle her.

“Carol said, ‘How long can you put up with this?’ “ the abuse victim told Janz.

Every day, when she took out the trash, the woman carried a little clothing in another plastic bag. She hid it in a suitcase in a storage room down the hall. One day she found the courage to walk away for good.

That woman became an an inspiration, Seaver said.

“If she can do it, we can do it,” she said.

Born Carol Zagar, she grew up on the south side. In a Journal Sentinel feature story one Labor Day, Seaver described her first job working at Bradford Beach, making popcorn and hot dogs when she was 16. She liked the feeling of responsibility, of earning money and feeling grown up. And she liked her bosses.

“I guess that was a great introduction to work,” Seaver said. “(Afterward) I think I always expected to meet really interesting people, and to laugh a lot.”

She went on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she met her husband, Ted Seaver. They later moved to Vermont and Mississippi. Both were involved in the civil rights struggle, and Carol Seaver also began a day care center in Jackson, Miss.

About 1968, they moved to Milwaukee, still active in social, political and school issues. In the late 1970s, Seaver finished her bachelor’s degree in sociology, later completing most of the work for a master’s degree, said her daughter, Darcy Dungan-Seaver.

“She became concerned that she shouldn’t just be talking theory, but actually doing something,” her daughter said.

That led Seaver to work as director for the Interfaith Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and then to her position with the Milwaukee Women’s Center.

In recent years, Seaver also got involved with the Raging Grannies, a group of like-minded friends who sang parodies at community and fund-raising events. Their T-shirts proudly declared their intent to “Act Your Rage.”

“She was just one of those caring, kind people,” said Linda Mayfield, director of family violence services for the center, who became a friend.

“It was her concern, it was her work, that older abused women were cared for. . . . She made sure that got off the ground and became a reality.”

Seaver and her husband later divorced but remained friends, said their daughter.

Other survivors include sons Edward “Ted” IV, Timothy and Jonathan; sister Barbara Kruse; brother Ted Zagar; and grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Feb. 26 at Cross Lutheran Church, 1821 N. 16th St., Milwaukee.

Last edited by g.   Page last modified on February 21, 2005

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