John Richard Sebastian was born on December 3, 1927, at home, in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania, to John William and Adella Fleischer Sebastian (deceased) He was later joined by sisters Betty Lou (deceased) and Ruth. For all of his youth and well into adulthood, he went by his middle name of Richard, so as not to be confused with his father, also John. In his teenage years, due to his small stature, he was fondly known as "PeeWee." It was only upon his move to Independence with ARCO Pipeline that he was known as "John."
John grew up in West Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, attending primary school there and graduating from Wilson High School. As a teenager, he was an avid drummer, earning the other nickname of "Gene Krupa." Immediately after high school, at age 17 and during World War II, he joined the Merchant Marines with his best friend, and their adventures took them all the way to South America. After returning, he attended Penn State University studying engineering. John met the lovely Mildred "Mickie" Wartluft and they were married in Wernersville, Pennsylvania on September 2, 1950. Ten years later, daughter Michele Ann arrived. At about this time, John began his long, distinguished and rewarding career with Atlantic Oil Company, later becoming ARCO. Truly a "self-made man," he believed in and lived the principles of hard work, dedication and continuous self-improvement, which led to promotion within the company beyond his wildest dreams. Transferred to Independence in 1973, he and Mickie embraced this community wholeheartedly. John retired from ARCO as Manager of Right-of-Way in 1985.
Too soon into their retirement, Mickie passed away in 1989. In 1990, John married Virginia Borders Sebastian, and they enjoyed many happy years together before her passing. For both women, John was a tireless caregiver during illness. In 2013, John was once again blessed with love, marrying Helen Wilson Sebastian. As his health declined, she became a loving caregiver to him, and she survives at their home.
A "Pennsylvania Dutchman" by his roots, he could speak that dialect fluently, and his entire life enjoyed the wonderful foods of this area, from ring bologna to shoo-fly pie. He was an avid gardener, especially at his home on Lakeview Drive, even once earning "Garden of the Month." He loved to travel and visited Bermuda many times, as well as enjoying numerous cruises around the world. His work with the International Right-of-Way Association led to conventions around the country, and he was honored, twice, as "Right of Way Professional of the Year." HIs home at Grand Lake and his boat "Little Bit" were the fulfillment of long-held dreams. John was a life-long Yankees fan and a true-blue Jayhawks basketball devotee. A man of constant and abiding faith, his affiliations with First United Methodist and First Presbyterian in Independence were sources of great comfort.
At his core, however, John was first and foremost a devoted family man. He loved not just Mickie, but her parents and sisters Anne and LaVerne (all deceased) and his brother-in-law Paul Troutman, who always called him "Dicker." A recent conversation with sister Ruth was a testament to their devotion. His daughter Michele was the apple of his eye, and her husband, Doug Price, was not a son-in-law, but a son. His grandsons Travis John, named for his grandfather, and Thomas Henry, have been sources of joy and pride always, and their grandfather has been a tremendous inspiration to them. His nieces Jenny and Heather, and nephew Greg Troutman were also immensely fond of and loved by "Uncle Dick." The joy he shared with Virginia was profound and his love for Helen immeasurable. Many Independence friends, too numerous to name, became "family" to him, as well, including Lucy Thompson, RL and Claudine Wells, Dee and Leonard Price (all deceased), Bennie and Lynn Wright, Glenna and Ron Lawrence, and Tim, Barb and Babs Emert.
He had a few mottos that bear mention: "Everything in moderation;" "You can't learn anything while you're talking; and, humorously quipped as he was enjoying a nice meal "I wonder what everyone else is doing? poking fun at himself.
Despite significant health challenges in the past year, his mind was sharp and his humor intact. The night before he passed, he said "I have nothing to complain about. I am very blessed." While he will be dearly missed, these words demonstrate how he lived his life: with integrity, humility and love.
A celebration of life service will be Tuesday August 2nd 2:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Independence KS.