Floy Willhoite Sealock

Honored by:Clayton A. & Ruth W. Swenson
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As longtime friends of Floy Sealock, we wish to honor her as an unsung heroine. She was born October 2, 1911 in Colfax, Illinois and died August 27, 1989 in Ames, Iowa, where she had lived most of her adult life. The attached tribute to her courage and determination in the face of personal tragedy was written by her daughter, Marilyn Sealock Finn, of Ames. Another daughter, Joann Sealock Graham, lives in Seattle, Washington and is the wife of an attorney, Stephen Graham, formerly of Ames. Two sons, Robert and Richard, are academicians at Duke University, Chapel Hill, North Carolina and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, respectively. Eight grandchildren also survive their grandmother.

Floy led a busy and hard-working life raising her family. As the children grew older and scattered to establish their own professional careers, she had more time for friends, many of them associated with the Department of Chemistry and the Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University, where she worked for many years. We were fortunate to be included in that circle, and we treasure our associations with her. We had in common two duplicate bridge groups, and a book club, which kept her mind sharp and inquiring. Although her accomplishments did not make front-page news, she earned the love and admiration of family and numerous friends who will continue to remember her with great affection and respect.

-Clayton and Ruth Swenson


Our mother was born October 2, 1911 in Colfax, Illinois. In June 1933, she graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. Having fallen in love with her chemistry teacher,she married Robert Sealock in August 1935. Her husband completed all his schooling and eventually they arrived in Ames to begin a family and establish themselves in the university community. Our mother's dream was to quietly raise her family and support her husband in his work. On August 19, 1961, her dream was shattered. Her husband died suddenly of a heart attack. She became the widowed mother of four children; ages 7, 6, 2 ½, and 9 months. At that moment, without seeking it, she became a heroine. With courage and determination, our mother met the challenge of her altered unwelcomed journey. Our mother raised four children, worked as an analytical chemist for the Atomic Energy Commission at the Ames Laboratory, had many wonderful friends, and traveled to many exciting places! With quiet fierceness she installed in all of us the love of reading, learning, travel, and the importance of an education. All four of us have advanced degrees and lead happy productive lives. We all fully realize that without her heroic efforts none of this would have been possible.

- Marilyn Sealock Finn, Ames, IA (Daughter of Floy Sealock)

Submitted on 7/1/96