The Greatest Man I Ever Knew – A Tribute to John Sebenius

John Sebenius was the greatest man I ever knew.

I first met Dad, which is what I and many others called him, when I was 12. His son and my brother, Frank, were best friends. I also had a crush on his older sister, whom I later married.

Shortly after we met, I was watching Frank work on a wood project until the wee hours of the morning. When I left, Frank had gone to bed, so everyone was asleep. About a half hour into my drive home, I realized that I had left my wallet in the garage. So, I drove back. I knew they kept the side door to the garage unlocked, so I went in, trying to make as little noise as possible.

I was trying to find the light switch, when I knocked something over. I found the light switch and grabbed my wallet, when “boom”! The door from the kitchen to the garage suddenly came crashing open. Dad looked at me, and I looked at him. I said, “I forgot my wallet”. He said, “ok”, and that was the end of it. We were both so scared, we never spoke of it again.

So why was Dad so special? So many reasons. He was the father to the fatherless, the friend to the friendless, and he really would have given his shirt off of his back to help others. He was wise, patient, and knew how to help everyone remain calm in a crisis.

He would take control of situations, no matter how strange. One night, while I was pulling into the driveway of our apartment, this drunk woman jumped into my truck and said, “Get me out of here”! I told her no, but she told me that her boyfriend was trying to kill her. So, I started driving while she kept telling me that she would make it worth my while.

I had no intention of doing anything inappropriate with her, and I was trying to determine the best course of action. Suddenly, I knew where I had to take her. Dad’s house. He would know what to do. Mind you, his daughter and I were nearly separated, and I showed up at his house with a good looking, very drunk woman, at midnight. I rang the bell and when he answered, he looked at me like I was out of my mind.

But as I told him the story, he knew just what to do. He calmed everyone down and called their minister, who then waited with them until the girl was sober, then found a place where she could live safely. I just knew I could always count on him for anything.

There were a couple of times when I needed money. Even though I didn’t say anything, when he shook my hand to leave, there was money in his hand, passing it quietly to me. He was always there.

He was also an incredible listener. I remember a time, after his daughter and I were divorced, I had fallen into a very deep depression, to the point where I wanted to harm myself. He called me at work, which he had never done before, and asked if he could take me to lunch. He did, and during the conversation, told me that I was not myself any longer, and he listened as I spilled my guts out to him.

He was an amazing man and is so greatly missed.

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