When she thought about her brother, Gilda Seymour realized she should not be feeling sorry for herself over a broken leg.
Her little brother, Jack N. Seymour Jr. of Ocean Springs, has since passed away at age 65. But he lived 38 years longer than anyone would have expected on September 25, 1979.
Gilda Seymour remembered that day in the obituary she wrote about him. Her mother, she said, had told her to come over and have some stuffed peppers for lunch.
“On my way over,” she wrote, “I had heard on the radio that a man was trapped under 20-ton slabs of cement at the Popp’s Ferry bridge. No name was mentioned but I remember thinking how sad that was for some family.”
The hospital called just as her mother was about to pull the peppers out of the oven. They never did get to eat those peppers.
Jack Seymour, a construction worker at the time, was the young man trapped under those slabs.
Dr. Ray Wesson, who died a short time later in an airplane accident, and Steve Delahousey, then a registered nurse, kept Seymour alive until he could be freed from the wreckage of the collapsed bridge.
“They risked their lives to get Jack stable and get him out,” Gilda Seymour told the Sun Herald. Her brother was conscious the whole time. In fact, he told the workers on scene what they needed to do to get the slabs off him, she said.
He went through months of painful rehabilitation, having suffered a crushed pelvis, busted bladder and a crushed right leg. He eventually was able to walk with a cane and his right leg in a brace.
He endured other surgeries over the years, and also had to rely on a tube to evacuate his bladder.
“He was so positive,” Gilda Seymour said. “I don’t know how anyone could go through what he went through and be positive. I think that’s why he lasted 38 years.”
Seymour was a divorced father of five children. When he was in high school, he was a talented athlete who played quarterback for the St. Martin Yellow Jackets football team.
He was a big Elvis fan. In 1978, his sister recalls, she talked him into playing Elvis in a tribute that was part of a hairdressing competition she had entered.
“He stole the show and we won an award,” she wrote. “Women were screaming for him as if he were really Elvis, knowing that Elvis had been dead a year!
“He had a great time. Jack always told me when he died he wanted that picture of him as Elvis as his obituary picture, and so it is. Looking back, I was so excited that he had that fame for one night, because 18 months later his whole life would be changed.”
After the accident, she heard him ask only once, “Why me?”
He insisted on his independence. He owned a gun shop and also worked as a supervisor for L&A Construction Co., the same company he was with when he had the accident. He was a big Saints fan.
His accident left him with medical issues that almost killed him on a number of occasions. The last time he went to the hospital, the medical staff wanted to admit Seymour, but he was having none of it.
He was tired of hospitals. The doctor predicted Seymour would be dead before the night was over.
But he was, as his family liked to say, the “bionic man.” He lasted another month before succumbing to a heart attack on Sept. 8 .
After his death, his sister found in her brother’s wallet a worn index card with words written in a black magic marker. She wanted to share what he had saved because the sentiment, written by organ-donation advocate Robert N. Test, seemed to sum up her brother’s attitude:
“If you wish to remember me, burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the wind to help the flowers grow. If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all my prejudices against my fellow man.
“If by chance you wish to remember me, do it with kind words or deeds to someone who needs you. If you do all that I have asked, I will live forever.”