Longtime Freeport Councilman James Seagriff Jr. dies
Family and community were longtime Freeport Councilman James Seagriff Jr.'s two loves.
“He was really passionate about making Freeport a good place to be,” said his daughter, Michele Pacek, of Buffalo Township. “That and being with his family was what he enjoyed doing.”
James Seagriff Jr. died Sunday, April 9, 2013, at Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison. He was 59.
Seagriff served on Freeport Council for 25 years. He was council president for nearly all of his years in office before resigning in 2011 for personal reasons.
“Jim was always very concerned about the town and what he could do to help improve the town,” current Freeport Council President Don Rehner said.
Among his contributions to Freeport were helping to found the Freeport Area Jaycees community organization and getting the Butler-Freeport Community Trail extended into the borough.
“We would never have had the trail on our end had it not been for Jim,” Rehner said. “He put days and hours and months into getting the PennDOT funding together.”
Councilman Tom Swisher recalled Seagriff's kindness and help when the Swishers moved to the borough about five years ago.
“He was like the guy who was everywhere and represented the borough,” Swisher said.
Freeport Mayor James Swartz Jr. said there was no one more dedicated.
“He was very energetic; he was always down at the borough building,” Swartz said. “He got things done. He had the right contacts with the politicians.”
Swartz and Seagriff grew up together in Freeport. They were both in the Class of 1971 at Freeport High School and then went on to work as Steelworkers union representatives.
Seagriff worked in the casting department at Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corp. for 23 years, retiring in 1997.
He was a steward and officer of United Steelworkers of America Local 1196 in Brackenridge, where he served as president from 1982 to 1988.
His dedication inspired his daughter's involvement in her teachers' union.
“We were raised to make sure we took care of other people,” Michele Pacek said, “to be compassionate; the importance of workers' rights.”
Seagriff's family joined him in his political ventures briefly when, in 2003, he made an unsuccessful run for Armstrong County controller.
“We did that as a family, campaigning for him,” Pacek said.
And for about two years in 2000 and 2001, Seagriff and his son, Russell, served on Freeport Council together. Russell Seagriff was elected, but had to resign when he moved out of the borough.
Pacek said her cherished memories of her dad come from trips to the family camp in Sigel, Jefferson County.
“We celebrated holidays like Memorial Day and Fourth of July … (or) we would go for no reason at all,” she said. “He was a big part of all our lives. We did everything together.”
Recently, the family was getting ready for a trip to the camp for the first day of trout season.
“My dad and I, forever, have gone fishing on the first day; that's been our tradition,” Pacek said.
In addition to his daughter, James Seagriff is survived by his wife of 40 years, Lida Seagriff; sons, Russell and James, both of Freeport; brothers Joseph of Buffalo Township, Edward of Freeport and David of Allegheny Township; sister Dorothy Croker of Brackenridge; and seven grandchildren.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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