Mr. Salem is an apt moniker for J. Robert Sebo born May 22, 1936 in Salem, son of Gertrude L. Jacobson, who divides her time between Salem and Naples, Fla. and the late John V. Sebo, who died in January 1998. Having attended Salem Prospect Grade School, Sebo was graduated in 1954 from Salem High School, where he played trumpet in the band, and was a member of the football and basketball teams, as well as track. Following high school he attended Bowling Green University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration and was a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
He served with the U.S. Army and was an officer at Fort Bliss, Texas, before moving up to work with surface-to-air missiles at Gross Isle, Mich. From 1960 to 1974, he served as district sales manager of the Cadillac Motor Division of General Motors in western New York. Then in 1974 he became associated with a fledgling company, known as Paychex and its founder, Tom Golisano. At that time the company employed only two individuals. In 1974, under an agreement with Golisano, Sebo began Paychex, Inc. of Ohio, concentrating on the geographical area from Salem to Cleveland, and he returned to his hometown to live.
In 1983, Sebo moved to Rochester, N.Y., only to return to his hometown in 1994 following his retirement. He then began a three-year process of designing and building the home on Quaker Lane. The father of two daughters, Mrs. George (Julie) Schmelzle of Naples and Mrs. Simone, (Christine) Parisi of Denver, Sebo also is grandfather to three, Megan, Lauren and George Schmelzle.
A member of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Salem, he also holds membership in the Salem Elks, Salem Booster Club, Italian Club of Salem, Salem Golf Club, Salem Historical Society and is a patron of the Salem Community Theater. Additionally, he is a member of the Naples National Golf Club and the Rochester, N.Y. Oak Hill Country Club. Appointed by Ohio Gov. Robert Taft as a trustee of Bowling Green State University in 2002, he serves on the Investment Committee and the Finance Committee. Sebo recently made a generous donation of $4.4 million to the university, with $3.5 million of that designated to the Sebo Student Athletic Center. A portion of the gift also is to be used for the BGSU football scholarship program and for the Sebo Jazz Study Scholarship. He also is the primary sponsor of the Bowling Green Entrepreneurial Center Program. He remains a board member of Paychex.
Sebo's interests range from golf and skiing to all levels of football. He is, however, an especially ardent supporter of the Salem Quakers and head high school football coach, Doug Phillips. Sebo was named Salem Citizens of the Year on Nov. 17, 2004. On Dec. 21, 2004, he was the recipient of the GMAC Bowl "Champions of Life" award during the Mayor's Lunch in Mobile, Ala., prior to the game between the Bowling Green Falcons and the Memphis Tigers.