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John and LaNita Seidel

Auto Dealer and Homemaker

Friday, April 22, 2005; Page B06

John and LaNita Seidel Auto Dealer and Homemaker

John C. "Jack" Seidel, 77, a prominent former automobile dealership owner in Prince George's County, and his wife, LaNita Galo Seidel, 90, died April 14 in a fire at their apartment in Silver Spring after smoking materials ignited.

Mr. Seidel went from apartment to apartment along his 11th-floor hallway at the Blair East Apartments to warn his neighbors of the blaze, then returned to assist his wife, who had trouble walking. The couple were the only fatalities in the early-morning fire.

LaNita Galo Seidel and John Seidel were killed in a fire April 14 at their Silver Spring apartment. (Family Photo)

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Mrs. Seidel, a Washington native, graduated from Dunbar High School and worked at the old Lictman Theatres during the late 1940s and early 1950s. After they married in the 1950s, Mrs. Seidel became a homemaker. She also was a member of the Metropolitan AME Church.

Mr. Seidel was born in Cleveland. He attended Georgetown University and Howard University. He joined the Army in 1951, serving four years.

According to their goddaughter, Vanessa Driver King, he worked his way up from car salesman to manager at District auto dealerships until he was able to start Seidel's Chevrolet on Central Avenue in Landover in 1973. His firm was named the 15th-largest black-owned business in the nation in 1977 by Black Enterprise magazine.

The business closed in 1993; at the time of his death, he worked as a salesman at Cherner Automotive Showroom in Tysons Corner and Annandale. He was a member of the Hundred Men social organization.

The couple enjoyed domestic and world travel, and spent several months each year at their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At one time, they held season tickets to Washington Redskins and Washington Bullets games.

Survivors include a brother of Mr. Seidel's.

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