George G. Selden - Developer of Military Paints

Bratenahl Place
George G. Seldon
George G. Seldon

George G. Seldon was a noted chemist and chemical company executive who developed paints for military use in all climates during World War II.  He invented and produced an anti-icing propeller coating used by the Army Air Corps in Alaska to keep planes operating in severe winter weather.  He also developed a concentrated paint that could be applied by mixing with water or, in desert areas, with gasoline.  He was an internationally recognized authority in the fields of thin-bed mortars and grouts used in setting ceramic tile.

George Seldon was born in Cleveland on October 13, 1915, to Franz and Lucia (Golay) Selden.  He graduated from East High School in 1932 and received a B.S. in chemical engineering (1936), and an M.S. (1939) and Ph.D. (1942) in organic chemistry from Case Western Reserve University.  He was awarded a two-year fellowship, sponsored by the Federation of Societies for Paint Technology, to work toward earning his doctorate from Case.

George started as a chemist at the family owned Upco Co. from 1936 to 1939.  During the war, he was a resin chemist and, later, lab chief and production director for the Finish Division of Interchemical Corporation in Cincinnati, Ohio.  In 1947, George returned to Cleveland as factory manager and technical director of the Upco Co.  When his father died in 1948, he assumed the presidency of the company.

After USM Corporation purchased the Upco Co. in 1965, George continued as president of the Upco subsidiary until 1979, when he became group business director for USM’s Bostik Chemical Group Tile Products.  After retiring in 1981, George formed Selden Chemical Consulting, serving as president from 1981 to 1990, and keeping abreast of the latest advances in the chemical industry.

George served as an officer and past president of the Cleveland Technical Societies Council; chairman of the House and Ground Committee of the Cleveland Engineering Society; treasurer, secretary, and president of the Cleveland Society for Coating Technology; and secretary of Committee 503 of the American Concrete Institute.  He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society and the American Society for Testing and Materials.

George was a commodore and trustee of the Forest City Yacht Club.  During his 20 years as a member of the Cleveland Power Squadron, he taught many boating classes; directed courses in piloting, sailing, weather, engine, maintenance, and marine electronics; and edited the “Telescoop,” a squadron publication.  He was a Cub Scout master and active in the Boy Scouts of America over a ten-year period.

George was a member of the Citizens League, the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, the Case Alumni Association, the Bratenahl Recreation Commission, and the Bratenahl Community Foundation.

George married Mary Frances Knight on September 9, 1941.  Frances received a Master of Science degree at the School of Applied Social Sciences at Western Reserve University.  They had two children.  They divorced in 1975.

On July 7, 1977, George married Josephine “Jo” Hershey. They lived at Bratenahl Place and were active in the Bratenahl community.  The children’s room at the Bratenahl Community Center bears their names.  Jo Hershey Seldon died in May 1990.

In 1991, George remarried his first wife Frances, and they were together when George died at University Hospital on December 21, 1993.  Mary Frances Knight Selden died in Cleveland on April 21, 2001.  George and Frances are buried at Alliance City Cemetery in Alliance, Ohio.