John James “Jack” Sheehan Jr. served the SIU membership for nearly half a century before retiring in 2011, building a well-earned sterling reputation along the way.
Sheehan passed away Oct. 29 in New York, reportedly after stroke-related complications. He was 76 and a month shy of his birthday.
The New York City native wore many hats with the SIU, most recently that of a patrolman and safety director based in Brooklyn, New York. He was hired in 1964 as a claims supervisor in his native city. In 1978, he transferred to the manpower office, also in the New York hall. Four years later, he served as a representative for the Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan (then named the Seafarers Welfare Plan).
He became a union representative in 1985. In 1991, Sheehan was called upon to serve as the SIU safety director in New York, a position he filled for nearly 17 years.
SIU Executive Vice President Augie Tellez worked with Sheehan for decades, and gave the eulogy at his funeral service in Staten Island, New York. Tellez described him as dedicated, likeable and full of integrity.
“Jack was one of the good guys,” Tellez said. “I met him in 1978 and he was part of the manpower crew with Frank Pecquex, Bobby Selzer and Lou Delma. He was a dear friend and union brother. It was truly an honor and privilege to deliver the eulogy, and I hope Jack’s family eventually feels the heartfelt joy their fond memories of him will bring.”
SIU Atlantic Coast Vice President Joseph Soresi said, “I have known Jack all my working career and I’ve never met a more dedicated individual to this membership. He respected the rank-and-file members and he cared deeply about the SIU.”
Retired SIU Vice President Government Services Kate Hunt said she “worked with Jack for many years in Brooklyn. Jack was a real gentleman and a real pro. One thing that always stood out to me is, the members really respected him and liked him. Nobody ever said a bad word about him. He treated everybody in a professional manner. He was just a great guy to work with.”
When he retired and was asked to reflect on his career, Sheehan replied, “It was my pleasure to work at the SIU and with the membership. Through the years I met some really great people. I will miss all of them.”