Robert Edwin Seamount
1919 - 1976
Bob Seamount sang second tenor with the Voice of Prophecy King's Heralds Quartet for nearly twenty years, from 1941 to 1961. In addition to his work with the quartet, he had numerous gifts that benefited the broadcast in many ways.
His knowledge and creative use of electronics led to the establishing of a state-of-the-art recording studio for the VOP in the early 1950s, when that area of technology was still in its infancy. His mechanical aptitude became a life-saver for the VOP entourage in the thousands of miles they traveled. Yet another gift, that of being a skilled pilot, facilitated travel for the quartet while he worked at the VOP and later, when he became a minister and missionary, significantly expanded the reach of his ministry.
Seamount was born in Green River, Utah. His parents, Edwin E. and Clara Mary Gibbs, worked in several Adventist academies during his early years. By the time their son entered high school, they were working at Gem State Academy in Caldwell, Idaho. While at GSA, young Seamount became acquainted with Wayne Hooper, who shared his interests in music and sang with him in the choir and in a male quartet. He also met Ellen Frances Venable, who arrived on campus to complete her senior year while he was a sophomore. She would later become his wife.
Following Ellen's graduation from academy in 1936, she attended La Sierra Junior College, now La Sierra University, drawn there by the word that she could earn her way by working at the Rusketts (a cereal) factory. Seamount and Hooper followed two years later. Both of the men participated in band and sang in the choir and the Collegians, a male quartet. While Hooper pursued a program in music, Seamount specialized in radio electronics.
When Seamount was invited by the VOP to join the King's Heralds Quartet in 1941, both he and his wife of five months were excited by this opportunity to work for the church. Their first assignment was traveling to Portland, Oregon, where they worked in an evangelistic meeting from September until just before Christmas. That fall, the VOP received word that they had been chosen by the church's Radio Commission in Washington, D.C., to be the national broadcast for the church.
That December, following the attack on Pearl Harbor on the 7th, the country was in turmoil. Emergency measures taken on the West coast, coupled with the rush by Richards and the quartet to get back to Southern California to prepare for their first national broadcast, scheduled for January 4, produced some harrowing moments. That first program was broadcast as scheduled on 89 stations. It received an overwhelming response and by the end of that year they were being heard on 225 stations.
Two years later when an opening in the quartet developed, Seamount encouraged the staff to consider Hooper, who he thought would not only be perfect as a member but would, with his other musical talents, personality, and spirit, be an asset to the quartet. Later that year, George Greer, a noted Adventist college choir director, was also hired by the Radio Commission to coach the quartet with its singing and guide it in choosing music.
Greer's ideas and those of the quartet and Richards clashed, and in 1947, after several changes in personnel in the quartet, both Hooper and Seamount left, Hooper to complete a music degree at Union College, and Seamount to join with another quartet. The new quartet sang for another California-based Adventist radio program, The Quiet Hour.
In 1949 Hooper was invited to return to the VOP and form another quartet and choose its music. He accepted and immediately chose members for a new quartet, including Seamount as second tenor. This quartet would sing together for the next twelve years and, with their blend of voices, extensive performances, and numerous recordings, define the King's Heralds sound for millions.
Seamount was the first to leave this quartet. His wife recalls,
The last record made by this group, I Believe, was a tribute to him and featured him as soloist. He continued with the VOP one year longer in the recording studio, then left in 1962, when he was invited by the Washington Conference to be a flying pastor for the San Juan Islands. He was ordained into the ministry while there.
While he had been at the VOP, Seamount had gained an instrument rating and a commercial license in flying. Because of these qualifications and skill as an aircraft mechanic, he responded to an invitation in 1966 to serve as a pilot for the church's mission work in the Peruvian jungle.
One of his duties was to provide service to 26 villages with 600 foort landing strips, using special assists to facilitate shorter take-offs and landings. While serving in Peru, he baptized over 200 natives. After leaving Peru, he used his mechanical abilities, inventiveness, and knowledge to modify planes and prepare needed paperwork so that they could be certified and used in unusual mission situations in different countries.
When the Seamounts returned to the U.S. in 1969, they accepted a position in the Texas Conference, where he worked in radio, television, and public relations work for the next six years, using his flying skills as a pilot of a twin-engine plane. They moved to Florida in 1975 and were residing there when he died from an inoperable brain tumor in February 1976.
Seamount's wife returned to the Northwest to work as a secretary in the Oregon Conference office following his death. She now resides in College Place, Washington.
Those who worked with Seamount at the VOP admired the sweet lyric quality of his voice and his musical ability. They and those who subsequently worked with him enjoyed his sunny disposition and open, unassuming manner in interacting with everyone he met.
Sources: Information provided by Ellen Venable Seamount, 2005; Robert E. Edwards, H.M.S. Richards, Review and Herald Publishing, 202, 03, 10, 11, 18, 26-28, 81, 83, 84, 316; Robert E. Edwards, Hello America! 20 Years of Victory, Voice of Prophecy, 1961, 40, 43, 44, 47; Roy F. Cottrell, Forward in Faith, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1945, 47-49.