Louis Benson Seltzer, 82, who was editor of the Cleveland Press for 38 years before his retirement in 1966, died Wednesday at the home of his daughter in Spencer, Ohio. He had cancer.

Mr. Seltzer started working for The Press, a Scripps-Howard afternoon paper, as a reporter in 1916. He went on to become city editor, political editor and chief editorial writer before being named editor in 1928.

Known to tens of thousands of city residents as "Mr. Cleveland," he had made his mark as a tireless civic leader.

In a 1954 article in The Saturday Evening Post, Joe Alex Morris Sr. wrote: "The most widely known, and perhaps the most paradoxical character among a million residents in the city of Cleveland is Louis Benson Seltzer, a slight and balding man who has spent the last 40 years studying, criticizing, praising, harassing, nagging, encouraging and loving his home town."

With Mr. Seltzer at the helm, the Cleveland Press played an important part in bringing the city such things as downtown redevelopment, a municipal zoo, bridges, highways and parks along what was once a dilapidated Lake Erie waterfront.

Mr. Seltzer played a key role in breaking down the political boss system in Cleveland. At the same time, he was credited with helping to put some of Ohio's most distinguished public figures into office.

They included Frank J. Lausche, who served as mayor of Cleveland, governor of Ohio and a U.S. senator, Cleveland mayor Anthony Celebrezze, Thomas A. Burke, also mayor and then a U.S. senator, and Supreme Court Justice Harold H. Burton.

Mr. Seltzer was born in Cleveland. He quit school at the age of 13 to be a copy boy at the Cleveland Leader and later became a reporter for the Cleveland News.While editor of the Cleveland Press, he also was editor-in-chief of the Scripps-Howard Newspapers of Ohio.

His wife of 50 years, the former Marion Champlin, died in 1965.

He is survived by his daughter, Shirley Cooper of Spencer; a brother and a sister, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A son, Chester died in 1971.