John Seltzer 1893

John Seltzer

John Seltzer 1893 was an adventurer, entrepreneur and philanthropist whose legacy became one of the most recognized products in Shelby history  the Shelby bicycle. 

John was the only male in his SHS graduating class of five.  His commencement oration on “Common Sense” was said to have taken his audience “by storm,” according to the Shelby Times. 

After graduation he followed in his father’s footsteps as a successful businessman at Seltzer & Steele hardware store; the name was changed to Seltzer & Sons.  In 1910 John and his family left Shelby for Saskatchewan Valley, Canada.  He and his father bought 650 acres which John would farm and eventually develop.  They lived there 10 years.  Returning to Shelby he bought half interest in the J.C. Morris Elevator, and the name was changed to Morris & Seltzer Coal & Grain. He also opened an automotive paint shop and 75-bay car storage in a renovated horse barn on Wall Street; in those days few homes had garages.

In 1924 John began working at the Shelby Cycle Co. where his father Joe was president.  When Joe died in 1929, John succeeded as president.  Already 54, he served 16 years as president during the company’s most prosperous period.  He retired in 1945.  The company had kept hundreds of workers employed during the Great Depression.  John also was a philanthropist, raising money for the Shelby Hospital, Shelby Country Club, a YMCA youth group, and amenities for Seltzer Park.  He also organized many civic events  auto shows, July 4th parades, Halloween parties.  In his retirement years John helped with sales at Seltzer Electric Company and doing projects including creating Whippet figure wind vanes for Skiles Field. He died in 1962. 

Nominator: Christina Yetzer Drain

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