By KURT HAUGLIE
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Kenneth Seaton was the featured speaker at the Finlandia University 2014 commencement ceremony Sunday. Seaton served on the Suomi College/Finlandia University Board of Trustees for 50 years before retiring.
HANCOCK - Kenneth Seaton has served on the Finlandia University Board of Trustees since 1963, and Philip Johnson told him Sunday how important that service was to the university, the students and the community.
Seaton was the Finlandia University commencement speaker, and Johnson, who is Finlandia president, also presented Seaton with the President's Distinguished Service Award.
Johnson said it was difficult to list briefly all the things Seaton has done as a business and community leader.
"You have led by serving," he said. "You understand life itself is a time of serving."
Johnson said the five decades Seaton served on the Suomi/Finlandia board of trustees was "An extraordinary stretch, unmatched in Finlandia history."
Seaton, who worked at the former Detroit & Northern Bank for 45 years, said he wanted to impress upon the graduates how important attitude is in life. To illustrate that point, he talked about a woman, named Kelly Brush, who was a competitive skier. After falling during a race and crashing into a ski lift support column eight years ago, she was paralyzed from the sternum down.
Seaton said Brush endured surgeries and rehabilitation. After recovering, she also got a degree and became a nurse practitioner.
Brush decided she wanted to do something to help people with spinal cord injuries get specially designed athletic equipment so she set up a foundation to raise money toward that end. The foundation sponsors athletic events for able-bodied and physically challenged athletes.
Seaton said Brush also continues to compete in skiing events.
"She has been on the hill every year since the accident," he said. "It is spectacular what she has done."
Brush has done well since her accident because of her attitude, Seaton said.
"The tragedy that happened eight years ago has become something very good," he said. "Attitude is everything. My prayer for you is that your attitude will carry you through the bumps ahead."