Most people know the story of the brothers Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, but few seem to remember that there was a third named son of those first parents. His name was Seth, and according to the story in Genesis, he lived to be 912. Although my good friend Seth Benner has somehow managed to escape many of the ravages of time and to maintain a youthfulness in both appearance and activity, as he turns 50 this weekend, I somehow doubt he has any hope of or intention to match his namesake’s longevity. On the other hand, I have no doubt that, for many of those who have known Seth the longest, it was an even bet – at best – that he’d make it to this half-century milestone.
Some of my earliest memories of Seth revolve around coaching football. When I served as head football coach at Port Clinton High School, I was in need of coaches. Seth had played at Oak Harbor for Gary Quisno, and as far as I was concerned, that was all I needed to know regarding his coaching creds. Fortunately for me and the kids in the program, it soon became obvious that Seth was passionate about teaching and coaching, he was willing to give whatever time and effort were needed to do the job well, and student-athletes were drawn to and inspired by his personality and teaching style. As it turned out, he was as invaluable of an addition to the staff as he has always been to the school.
Over the years, Seth has become more than a fellow coach and teaching colleague; rather, he has become a true friend and a partner in my occasional attempts to seize the day. In the highlight film of my life – as short as that film may be – he will appear in many of the frames as we hiked and kayaked in the Adirondacks, paddled furiously while rafting the Gauley River, ran to South Bass Island on February ice, crawled through mud in an adventure race, tore through the streets of Washington D.C. in a 10-miler, and best of all, consumed a variety of meats around the many fires I’ve watched him build and beers, pizzas, and clams on our favorite rooftop bar in Old Forge, New York.
Seth is one of my very favorite conversationalists. He possesses a wealth of opinions, a treasure trove of stories from the rambunctious days of his youth, a quick and biting sense of humor, which leaves him with a ready comment should anyone let slip an illogical thought, and an absolute mastery of the simile. I can listen to Seth nonstop, be it on an eight-hour car drive, sharing a lean to in the middle-of-nowhere, or staring into one of his fires for as long as it remains stoked.
Seth has two biological brothers, one of whom happens to be named Ty, but I hope he is willing to allow me to consider myself a brother as well. If so, it is truly one of the great honors of my life. In his fifty years, Seth has proven himself to be an amazing teacher, coach, friend, husband, and father, which proves that those years have been well spent. Happy birthday, brother. I look forward to seizing more days with you in the near future.
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