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Longtime firefighter was a whiz with computers

Stephen Huba
| Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Jim “Sully” Sullenberger
Jim “Sully” Sullenberger

The flag outside the Westmoreland City Volunteer Fire Department is flying at half-staff in honor of former Chief Jim “Sully” Sullenberger, who was a member for 47 years.

Mr. Sullenberger served as chief from 1978 to 1996 after a stint as assistant chief, said his wife, Janie Sullenberger.

“Jim was very pleased to be a fireman. He just loved it,” she said. “He took every class he could, read every book he could.”

He was instrumental in the development of a three-story training tower in North Huntingdon.

“They would close the windows and fill the building up with smoke. It was used to simulate what the firemen would have to do in a big fire,” Mrs. Sullenberger said.

Jim Sullenberger of Westmoreland City died Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at his camp in Brookville, Jefferson County. He was 73.

Born in Greensburg on Oct. 15, 1943, he was the son of the late James Allen and Gladys Charlotte (Roberts) Sullenberger.

Mr. Sullenberger got into the fire service after he and his wife moved to Westmoreland City in 1969. The couple eloped in 1965, Mrs. Sullenberger said.

“I was only 19, he was 21. My dad would not give us permission to get married,” she said.

The couple drove to Hagerstown, Md., and, unable to find a church, got married at the county clerk's office, she said. Their marriage lasted 52 years, during which time they raised three daughters.

On Easter 2015, the daughters surprised their parents with a “save the date” notice that included an invitation to a church wedding. The ceremony at Westmoreland City Primitive Methodist Church was held on the couple's 50th wedding anniversary.

“He got down on his knee, which wasn't easy for him to do at that point, and proposed to me. We have it all on video,” Mrs. Sullenberger said. “I couldn't ask for a better husband.”

Mr. Sullenberger made a career out of his interest in computers, first as a technician for Basic/Four Corp. in Pittsburgh, then as the owner of Compute Services of Westmoreland City. Largely self-taught, he handled multiple Basic/Four corporate accounts, including U.S. Steel and Westinghouse, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia.

He retired in 1988 and opened his own business with his wife in 1990. They closed the business in 2015.

“It was all word-of-mouth,” she said. “We had a lot of private customers, and he would build computers and program them. He was so intelligent; nobody had any problems with them.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Sullenberger is survived by daughters Janelourie Werner of Grapeville, Joanie Smith of Derry and Jamie Sabo and her husband, C.J., of Westmoreland City; and 10 grandchildren.

Friends may call from 12-2 p.m. Saturday at Refuge Church, 21 Broadway Ave., Manor. A memorial service will follow.

Ott Funeral Home in Irwin is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials may be made to the Center for Organ Recovery and Education, RIDC Park, 204 Sigma Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15238.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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