Rocky Fork Enterprise

Lady trailblazers recall glory days

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MARLA K. KUHLMAN/THISWEEKNEWS
Jane "Bunnie" Geroux (right) served as the only woman on Gahanna City Council in the 1970s. She appointed Lucy Seeds (left) as parks and recreation director. The women laid the groundwork for Gahanna to become the Herb Capital of Ohio.
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An Ohio native responsible for helping found the Gahanna Woods State Nature Preserve returned home to participate in a heritage tour for her family last week.

Lucy Seeds, the youngest daughter of Emma Gatewood, returned to Gahanna on Aug. 4 as part of what she called a "last hurrah" to unite with family members at Old Man's Cave. There a trail is named for her mother, who's also known as Grandma Gatewood. Gatewood was the first woman to hike solo the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail, from Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, in one season in 1955. She was 67 at the time.

Seeds, the youngest of 11 children, has left her own mark in Ohio.

"We just got back from Gallia County because one of my granddaughters wanted a heritage tour," Seeds said. The 86-year-old stopped in Gahanna to visit friend and former colleague Jane "Bunnie" Geroux.

Seeds, who lives in Florida, worked as Gahanna's parks and recreation director from 1972 to 1976. She lived in Gahanna from 1962 to 1989.

"I had got involved with the historical society and became a close working buddy and friend to Bunnie, who got involved in politics," Seeds said. "When she was chairman of City Council, she appointed me as director of parks and rec. Then it was barely a part-time job. My first salary, I believe, was $50 a month. Then it went to half time at $500 a month."

The two women were among seven female Gahanna leaders in 1972, even being featured on the cover the Columbus Citizen-Journal.

Seeds and Geroux also were two of five women known as the "Herb Ladies," setting the groundwork for Gahanna being named the Herb Capital of Ohio. They visited groups in a tri-state area to talk about herbs. Seeds led discussions about the medicinal value of herbs. Geroux was in the balcony of the Ohio Statehouse when a resolution was passed, declaring Gahanna the herb capital in 1972.

She currently operates a successful Gahanna business specializing in dried bouquets, called Culpeppers.

Seeds said her greatest achievement in Gahanna was in helping to get the Gahanna Woods State Nature Preserve founded in 1973. It involved an effort to save one of the last remaining large stands of woods in central Ohio.

The preserve is home to rare species of vegetation, including some of Ohio's most exceptional wildflowers and rarely seen wildlife. Consisting of more than 50 acres, the preserve protects buttonbush swamps and vernal pools in central Ohio.

"A young OSU student approached me about the natural area," Seeds said. "It was very unique, and it was about to be developed. When the developer came before council, I went to him and said I understood it was a natural area. It was a mature beech-maple forest and swamp lands. I found out there were endangered plants and species."

The developer agreed to sell it, she said.

"I got together with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and they agreed to consider the purchase if I could get approval from Gahanna City Council," Seeds said. "I called the nature conservancy to be an interim buyer. There were five entities working on this. This was just on our word.

"The city of Gahanna has 50 acres, and the department of natural resources has 50 acres," she said. "Later they discovered a moth that had been registered as extinct, and a rare, endangered salamander was in the swamps."

Geroux has visited the preserve and for years has provided history to all grade levels.

Seeds also was involved with the construction and opening of the municipal golf course.

"I was in charge of hiring," she said. "I helped establish the park board in Gahanna. We signed the contract for the construction of the golf course in 1975 or 1976. Golf was started in Scotland. It's a Scottish game. I got a group of bagpipers to perform. It was a beautiful day."

Seeds said she has an educational background in nature.

"When I became director of parks and rec, the success had to be on my innate ability of what made good sense," she said. "Of all the parks-and-rec people in the state, I was the only female director. I was 40 and looked good for my age. The nearest thing I had in management was being a Red Cross Gray Lady. I had that experience."

When she moved to Florida, she became involved in monitoring bald eagle nests.

"When I started monitoring, the eagles were an endangered species," she said. "There were 50 of us monitoring them in Florida. Now they've been taken off the list.

"We had an eagles nest in the neighborhood. A developer came in, and I got involved," she said. "Eventually, we came to an agreement, and the developer modified his work. The county passed a protection-zone ordinance. It came out on the positive side. I monitor five nests. It's very interesting."

Seeds said when it comes to her own legacy, she has absolutely no ego as far as accolades.

"I lived my life on the basis of what I can contribute as an honest human being," she said. "I try to be honest in everything I do. I'm a realistic person. I have a sense of appreciation for having participated. I was grandma's girl."

Seeds and her husband, Robert, live in Jacksonville, Fla. They are parents of Katherine Nash, a Gahanna graduate who also lives in Florida. Their sons Steven Seeds, of Colorado, and Brian Seeds, of Florida, also are Gahanna graduates.

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