He was a retired Blue Bird executive, an anti-smoking advocate and a pilot who kept a plane in the barn behind his home. He and his wife also had a small prayer chapel at the house.
Sellier emigrated from Venezuela at the age of 15. The plane stopped in Cuba, and he saw armed men strip people fleeing Castro's regime of all their possessions.
“I realized that these people had given up everything they owned for the freedom that we have in America," he once told me.
For the last several years, Sellier fought health issues related to throat cancer. He died last night at the age of 65.
Top: Sellier, R-Fort Valley, hugging former Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson after Richardson's resignation in December 2009. Bottom: Sellier at sine die, 2010. Images courtesy Liz Erikson, House Photo office, and Travis Fain, The Macon Telegraph.
I remember talking to Sellier about a particularly difficult vote, back when Speaker Richardson would make votes particularly difficult for GOP legislators:
That was particularly true on Senate Bill 10, a measure that allows disabled children to use taxpayer-funded vouchers to attend private schools. The bill was one of the biggest of the session, and Sellier was on the House Committee on Education. He found himself in the middle of a close vote to send the bill out of committee and to the House floor for debate.Update: Rep. Sellier's funeral will be Saturday in Fort Valley. The Telegraph has more details, and a lengthy obituary.
As the moment of truth came, Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, and his Speaker Pro Tem, state Rep. Mark Burkhalter, R-Duluth, entered the committee room and stood quietly at the back. Sellier planned to vote against them and against the bill. To make things worse, committee Chairman Brooks Coleman announced that members would vote by standing up, instead of just saying "yea" or "nay."
It was the only vote the committee did that for all year, Sellier said. Sellier stood with the nays. The measure passed.
"It's easy to stand up for your principles when they're not tested," he said.
"I'm a 62-year-old guy up at the Legislature and I'm not trying to be governor," he said. "It's freedom."