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South Butler School Board director not afraid to stand alone

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 12:08 a.m.
Richard Sefton

From his coin collection to his interest in history and politics, Rich Sefton was fascinated by the legacies of others.

At the same time, he was leaving his own mark: as a longtime member of the South Butler School Board, a father who attended all of his kids' games and a husband who fulfilled the role of soul mate.

“He was humble, loyal, giving, caring and hardworking,” said Sefton's wife, Dora. The couple would have celebrated their 39th anniversary in October. “Family meant everything to him.”

Richard Dale “Rich” Sefton of Clinton Township died on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, at home in his sleep of natural causes. He was 59.

A 1973 graduate of Knoch High School, Sefton served for 28 years on the South Butler County School Board, until he lost his re-election bid in 2013. He served on the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV board from 1998 to 2013. He was chairman for the final six years of his term. He also sat on the Butler County Area Vocational Technical School board.

“He was always a very considerate, kind person; he looked out for the taxpayers,” said South Butler County School Board member Jackie Pfeiffer, who served on the board with Sefton for seven years. “He wasn't going to do anything that was wasteful.”

Sefton was known for routinely being the lone “no” vote on a variety of issues, but in particular voting against the district's budget.

For a decade, he consistently voted against the budget because he said he didn't think it was fair that the school district has to pass a budget by June 30, before the state sets its budget, which includes district funding allocations.

Sefton was just as dedicated to his work.

He was in his 38th year working at Redland Brick in Harmar, where he most recently was a machine operator. He worked part time as a bus driver for W.L. Roenigk.

For four years, Sefton brought home damaged bricks that would have been thrown away. He used them to make a brick driveway that was nearly finished.

He laid a few bricks after work on Sunday, Dora Sefton said.

Sefton enjoyed gardening, rarely missed a game involving a Pittsburgh sports team and regularly watched two national newscasts every night.

Ultimately, history was his biggest interest.

Last week, he and his wife went to the Allegheny County Airport to see the Memphis Belle B-17.

“He was like a kid at Christmas time,” said his daughter, Katie Sefton, 22, of West Mifflin.

Sefton made it a priority to attend Knoch High School football and basketball games and watch his children play, too.

“I played lacrosse in high school and college, and he would come to the games,” Katie Sefton said. “Even college, when it was a five-hour drive, he would come.”

Sefton's children said he encouraged them in everything they did.

He was proud that his son and daughter graduated from college. Both are engineers.

“He always wanted us to have an easier time in life because he had to work really hard at everything,” said Sefton's son, Ed Sefton, 26, of Springfield, Ohio.

In addition to his wife and children, Sefton is survived by a sister, Nancy McCarren of Butler, and seven nieces and nephews.

Viewing will be held from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. today in Fox Funeral Home in Saxonburg. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in Westminster Presbyterian Church, followed by interment in the church cemetery.

The Valley News Dispatch will occasionally run obituary stories on notable local residents. They are news items and as such, no charge is applied. The subjects of these stories are solely the discretion of the editors.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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