Center may be named for pair

Chapel Hill couple a friend to seniors

Staff WriterNovember 15, 2005 

Orange County commissioners are scheduled to vote tonight on naming the new Southern Orange Senior Center after longtime Chapel Hill residents Robert and Pearl Seymour.

The proposal comes from the board of directors for the Friends of the Chapel Hill Senior Center, which voted unanimously last summer to recommend naming the future building on Homestead Road for the Seymours.

"He has done as much as anybody in Chapel Hill in the last 40, 45 years for social justice in this community," said Friends President Roy Brock.

Robert Seymour was the pastor of the Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church for its first 30 years, while his wife, Pearl, served as its organist.

During that time, Robert Seymour is credited with racially integrating his church; helping to found the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, which provides food, clothing and shelter to the needy; and heading a task force on the needs of seniors. That task force led to the county's paying two-thirds of the rent for space in the Galleria shopping center on Elliott Road that has been home to the Chapel Hill Senior Center for 15 years.

"I think both the Seymours have served our community well for many, many years, and they've worked hard to meet our seniors' needs for many, many years," said Moses Carey, chairman of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

Carey said the county's policy on naming buildings permits honoring people who are still living.

Robert Seymour, 80, and his wife Pearl, 78, learned from Carey on Sunday about the proposal.

Seymour said he is proud of the $5.1 million center, set to open next summer, and overwhelmed by the proposed honor.

"I reminded him [Carey] of the policy of the U.S. Postal Service to not put anyone on a stamp while they're still alive. You know, I am 80 years old, but I could still mess up," Seymour joked.

Also on tonight's agenda:

* Resolutions asking Carrboro and Hillsborough to partner with the regional library system and county to develop free-standing branch libraries in their downtowns.

* Next steps for possible district elections for the Board of Commissioners.

Staff writer Cheryl Johnston Sadgrove can be reached at 932-2005 or

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