A pair of Peacock alumni, who dedicated over 60 years of their lives educating young people, were named the 2019 Upper Iowa University “Tie Dye & Tailfeathers” Homecoming Parade grand marshals. Although the parade was canceled, there is no way that Mother Nature could dampen the Peacock spirit of this year’s honorees, Al ’56 and Jan (Mork)’64 Seabrooke of Elgin, Iowa.
“I don’t believe we have missed a UIU Homecoming over the past 20-25 years, so we were extremely honored,” Al said. “The education I received not only prepared me for my teaching career but also for the master’s degree I later earned at the University of Iowa.”
“It was an emotional and humbling moment when we were invited to be this year’s Homecoming grand marshals,” Jan agreed. “I credit my UIU education for fully preparing me to be a teacher. All of the professors were professional at what they did and taught each of us students all that we ever needed to know to be successful.”
Al Seabrooke’s initial plan was to attend Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa). Those intentions changed while he was playing in a summer industrial baseball league following his high school graduation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. League teammate Ronald Schueler, who was a UIU graduate, suggested that Al attend Upper Iowa. A clearer path to UIU was created for Seabrooke after Schueler scheduled a scrimmage between the industrial league team and the Peacock baseball team, led by legendary coach John “Doc” Dorman.
“I got lucky and hit a homerun during the game,” Al smiled. “Afterwards, coach Dorman offered to pay for my UIU scholarship, which was allowed during that time.”
Double majoring in business education and social studies at UIU, Al attended UIU for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force and then resuming his college education at Fayette Campus. He was an active member of both the UIU Veterans and Lettermen’s clubs.
“I really loved Upper Iowa from the start,” Al said. “The beautiful campus was staffed with excellent coaches and teachers. I enjoyed my experience so much that even when I was in the Air Force and stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, I would drive the 600 miles to Fayette Campus whenever I received a three-day pass.”
Jan’s mother, Georgia (Meyer) Mork, received a teaching certificate from UIU in 1928. With strong encouragement from her father, Kenneth, Jan followed in her mother’s footsteps. She served on the UIU Student Council and was a Future Teachers of America member, before earning degrees in K-12 education and English at UIU.
“Similar to today, Upper Iowa’s social atmosphere, combined with quality facilities and professors, made a huge difference in receiving a high-quality education,” Jan said. “I can name a long list of faculty, staff and other students whom I still fondly remember.”
While attending UIU, Jan would become best friends with Jeannie Garbee, the daughter of then UIU President Dr. Eugene E. Garbee and Dr. Mildred Everts Garbee. The friendship, which lasts to this day, was so strong that Jan and Jeannie both stood up in each other’s weddings.
Jan would first catch the eye of her future husband when she was walking across campus one day with a small boy.
“Al thought I was married and had already started a family,” Jan laughed. “He would later find out the boy was my little brother.”
The couple would enjoy their first date in April 1955 and were married two years later. The secret to their nearly 63 years of marriage?
“You learn to compromise,” Al grinned. “And we have also always liked spending time together. There are not too many things we do separately.”
“We have done everything together since college,” Jan agreed. “I even retired from teaching within six months of Al’s retirement.”
Like their successful marriage, the Seabrookes enjoyed lengthy education careers.
Double majoring in business education and social studies at UIU, Al first taught business education at Victor, Iowa. One year later, he would accept a similar position at Valley High School in rural Elgin. A Cedar Rapids native, Al’s teaching career would span 35 years before his retirement at Valley in May 1991. Al also enjoyed a 30-year coaching career, serving as head baseball and boys’ basketball coach at both Victor and Valley, and assistant football and girls’ basketball coach at various times at Valley.
An Elgin native, Jan began her 28-year eighth grade English teaching career at Strawberry Point. Similar to her husband, she would join the Valley staff one year later.
The Seabrookes have two adult children, eight grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and one step great-grandchild. Son Tim and his two sons, Alan and Andy, also played baseball and graduated from UIU. Daughter Jill attended UIU for one year before going into the ministry. The list of UIU graduates also includes Jan’s sister, Nona, and her husband, Wayne Sawyer.
Surrounded by a wave of support from this and their extended Peacock family, it is easy to understand why Al and Jan didn’t let any inclement weather interfere with their Homecoming honor. Throughout the weekend, the couple enjoyed interacting with new and longtime friends at the Welcome Home Dinner, President’s Ball, Alumni Awards and Honor Class Brunch, and football game — a perfect example of what Homecomings are all about.