DIXON – Former Lee County Board Chairman Jim Seeberg liked to sing and often called himself “sweet, nice and lovable.” At the same time, he had no problem telling off someone.
The onetime state police officer died Monday. He was 80.
Known for his gruff, no-nonsense style, Seeberg left the board when his term expired in December. He had served since 1984 – the last decade as its chairman.
The Ashton Republican crossed party lines 2 years ago to endorse Democrat Rick Ketchum of Amboy as his successor. In December, the board unanimously elected Ketchum.
“Jim did it his way,” Ketchum said Monday. “He was very intelligent, but he did it his way.”
In 2010, Seeberg missed some County Board meetings because of cancer. He cited his cancer and age in deciding against a re-election bid.
Seeberg recently moved to a nursing home in Franklin Grove. He was taken to KSB Hospital in Dixon over the weekend.
County Board secretary Dee Duffy said she visited Seeberg in the hospital Sunday.
“He was like a father to me,” said Duffy, who knew him for more than 20 years. “Anytime you would ask him how he was doing, he would say, ‘Sweet, nice and lovable.’”
In his office at the Old County Courthouse, Seeberg could be heard singing old tunes. And he did so in just about any mood, Duffy recalled.
She would ask him his age, but never got an answer.
“Honest to goodness, I never knew his age,” Duffy said. “I always asked him. I knew his birthday, but he’d never say his age.”
County Board member Greg Witzleb, R-Dixon, said he was saddened by Seeberg’s death.
“We disagreed a lot, but we were friends,” Witzleb said. “In politics, you can disagree and still be friends.”
A couple of years ago, Seeberg tried to remove Witzleb from a committee. At a meeting, Witzleb objected, saying the chairman had retaliated against him for an unrelated vote.
Many politicians would have slickly denied the charge, coming up with some other reason. Not Jim Seeberg. He admitted to it, but later backed down.
At meetings, Seeberg’s dismissiveness sometimes offended people. In 2011, when a resident went a few seconds over her time limit during public input, Seeberg got angry, commanding her. “Sit down!”
At the same time, Seeberg took pride that his administration protected county employees. He noted the county laid off no one during the last few years, despite the sluggish economy.
Employees also continued to get regular raises. No wage freeze was ever enacted, unlike many other places.
“Jim cared for the people of Lee County,” Witzleb said. “He did his best to help Lee County.”
Visitation for former Lee County Boar Chairman Jim Seeberg, who died Monday at the age of 80, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Beverage-Lyons Funeral Home in Ashton. His funeral will begin at 11 a.m. Friday at St. John's Lutheran Church in Ashton, with visitation an hour beforehand.
Go to www.coulon-lyonsfamilyfh.com to read his full obituary, which was not available Monday, and to leave condolences.