Federal courthouse staff mourning loss of downtown Macon snack vendor

A black bow and a vase of orange lilies sit on the shuttered vendor stand at Macon’s federal courthouse.

Regular visitors to the lobby miss the booming voice of Andy Seymour who hawked snacks, drinks, coffee and pain relievers for several years behind the gray counter.

“He left his smiles behind as a legacy to you and all who knew him as Andy,” stated the sheet of white paper taped up in his memory.

The 58-year-old Fort Valley man was born James Anderson Seymour in honor of his ancestor, Gen. Charles D. Anderson, who led the brigade that defended Atlanta in the Civil War.

Seymour, who lost his sight to a degenerative eye condition, suffered fatal injuries in the passenger seat of his mother’s car in Fort Valley last week.

They crashed into a house at 405 College St. shortly before 9 p.m. on July 6, said trooper John Sellers, public information officer of the Perry post of the Georgia State Patrol.

George Ann Seymour, 79, was critically hurt in the accident that happened when the family dog fell into the floor board near the gas pedal and the car accelerated out of control from Everett Square, Sellers said.

The dog survived the crash and was placed in the care of the Seymours’ neighbors, he said.

Every weekday, the legally blind man rode to Macon and back with his mother so he could sell courthouse concessions. He took the job in 2004 when he ended his nearly 30-year career at a similar job at the Chatham County Courthouse in Savannah.

David Lee, a management analyst for the Middle District Court, remembers Seymour long before they worked in the same building.

Lee’s best friend lived a couple doors down from Seymour when they were in their teens, and Seymour was the first to pay his respects when Lee’s mother died.

“He would do anything for you,” Lee said. “Andy, like so many people, could have taken the easy way out with a disability, but he was here every morning at 6 a.m.”

Now, Lee can scarcely bear to walk by the kiosk with its padlocks securing the cabinets of Excedrin, Alka-Seltzer and Boston Baked Beans candies.

No matter if Lee bought 14 items, Seymour would still bark, “What else?”

He might have been a little rough around the edges for strangers, but those who got to know him quickly found his softer side.

Kellie Sise used to order munchies for jurors to get them through deliberations.

“He had a heart of gold and a gentle spirit,” Sise said as she stood near his empty corner.

Across Mulberry street, the folks at Bowen Brothers Clothiers miss his regular 4:30 p.m. visits.

Seymour would stop in nearly every day when he closed up.

“He was family,” said store clerk Tonya Smith.

She’d often answer the phone and hear Seymour say “Hoegaar,” his code word to alert Harry Bowen there was a fresh pot of coffee brewing.

Bowen said the tradition came from Seymour’s love of Hoegaarden beer.

“There’s no way to tell how many people off the street he gave things to,” Bowen said. “I told him, ‘Andy, you’ll never get that money back,’ and he’d say, ‘We’ll see.’”

Lee and Bowen shared a good laugh about Seymour’s green stovepipe hat he’d pull out each St. Patrick’s Day.

“He was just a character,” Bowen said.

Seymour’s cousin, Louis Lee, said his heart reached beyond those he met through work.

“He was a great guy. He really touched a lot of people at the federal courthouse and everywhere.”

The family plans a private burial with a memorial service to be scheduled at a later date.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.