Dear Cornwall-on-Hudson residents, neighbors, and friends:
Here is my letter to the editor of the Cornwall Local, memorializing Cornwall-on-Hudson Head Mechanic James P. Sebesta and published on front page of Cornwall Local today:
Our Village family is grieving. Last week, following a brief illness, Cornwall-on-Hudson Head Mechanic James Paul Sebesta, 55, passed away while surrounded by loving family. Tragically, the sudden, unexpected loss has devastated the Sebesta family – longtime Cornwall residents, including two siblings who also serve our community as public servants. Sebesta’s passing has deeply affected Village employees who worked closely with him across the nearly 23 years he served within our Department of Public Works. Our DPW Superintendent Dave Halvorsen shared this with me: “Jim Sebesta took great pride in his work. He was always up for the challenge. If he didn’t have the tool he needed for a job – he would make one. His gift was fabrication; anything from storage racks, snow plow blades, and street sweeper accessories. He often selflessly put in time after work to assist employees with their personal vehicle issues.”
Jim’s older sister, Paula Sebesta-Howard, our Deputy Village Treasurer, allowed that her baby brother “loved tinkering with machines at a very young age.” Paula explained to me that when Jim was a child, he earned his knack for small engine repair by countless hours spent disassembling and reassembling engines with their father. Understandably emotional, she shared his three primary loves: Family (especially his grandkids), Camping, and NASCAR. I also know that Jim loved being an older brother to his little sister – Kristen Sebesta-Boyle. Kristen served as COVAC president for many years and spent countless hours serving our community in the emergency services realm. Witnessing her softly weep on the shoulder of Jim’s boss, Dave Halvorsen, on Thursday pulled on more heartstrings than I care to count.
In my current role, I had innumerable encounters with Jim, as he fiercely advocated for his guys as an elected CSEA representative. He was a fierce negotiator on matters that impacted “his guys” and his insight and command of the facts were something that he jokingly reminded me were coming from “a simple BOCES graduate.” That humility applied the perfect patina to his rough and tumble mien. There was nothing “simple” about Jim Sebesta. He accomplished more in 55 years than most could in a century. He will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Brother.
May his memory be a blessing.
On Behalf of the Village Board,
James A. “Jimmy” Gagliano