Tuesday, April 11, 2006

1957 Beirut Marine has a unique hobby

When he saw the first statue, the crusty old Marine had tears in his eyes.

He bought it right away, took it home and set it up in his front yard. Then Lloyd Seekamp told his wife, "I'm going to get them all."

And that's why you can find a line of five saluting, flag-holding statues in the Seekamp front yard in west Greeley. And that's why Eaton Grove Nursery north of Greeley is temporarily out of the military statues. Lloyd bought all they had.

The concrete military statues are about four feet tall, with a coating that makes them appear to be bronze. Represented are the Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force and a female Army officer.

For Lloyd and Zola Seekamp, they are more than just statues. Lloyd was a U.S. Marine for seven years beginning in 1950. He was just off the coast of Korea when the armistice that ended that war was signed.

In 1957, he was one of only 11 Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, guarding the U.S. Embassy, when he met an embassy secretary, Zola Estep. Three months later, they were married.

"We really don't talk about how quickly we got married," Zola said. "But we've been married 49 years, so I guess it worked."

Lloyd was the oldest of 14 kids in a dairy farm family in Wisconsin; Zola grew up in Lamar. He got to Lebanon after other assignments as a Marine. Zola joined the U.S. State Department in 1954 and went to London before Beirut.

"Beirut was beautiful in those days," Zola said. "That was before the problems in the Middle East, and it was very quiet."

After they married, the couple returned to the U.S., and Lloyd went into the agricultural feed business. He's been doing it now for 40 years.

In 1981, after living in Greeley seven years, the Seekamps started a seed business in their basement. It grew into a good living, and Lloyd retired a few years ago.

Now 74, Lloyd still goes to work each day, but this time he's working with his son-in-law's Peterson Pet Food business.

"I'm on the road a lot," Lloyd said, "doing what I do best -- selling."

And he comes home each evening, greeted by the five military statues in his front yard. "It still breaks me up a little when I see them," Lloyd said. "We need to show support for our military and remember what they've done for us."

They worry about vandals or thieves stealing the statues, so they keep a close eye on them. They don't want their address in the paper, fearing it will be an invitation for someone who doesn't like the military.

But they've been surprised, by the people who stop in front to view the statues or the people who come to the door to ask about their display.

"It's good to see so many people who care about the soldiers," Zola said.

It even makes the crusty old Marine smile.

Staff writer Mike Peters' column about Weld County people appears Mondays in the Tribune. His humor column, the Gnarly Trombone, appears Saturdays. Contact him by e-mail at

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