Family, colleagues remember flooding victim as ‘this wonderful person’ who ‘is just gone’
After a 13-hour search for a missing man in historically high floodwaters, the rushing currents and dangerous conditions ended up taking 70-year-old Jim Sewell’s life.
“Shock. Utter shock,” said Jim Draeger, who worked with Sewell for more than 23 years. “I think everybody has been paying attention to that story because it’s such a heartbreaking story. To learn that it’s one of your colleagues it’s very hard.”
Draeger worked alongside Sewell at Wisconsin’s Historical Society, where he said Sewell had a tremendous influence and created a backbone for the company with systems and guidelines that are still used today.
Sewell’s daughters described him as a great person whom they loved more than anything else.
“I don’t know why he got taken so soon,” said Debbie Sewell, Jim Sewell’s daughter. “Everything he did, he did selflessly for everyone else. He helped my uncle and his girlfriend out of the waters and when he tried to help himself, he got swept away.”
Sewell’s death is a tragedy his family members have to live with every day, but they still remember the good, and they said that’s what he would have wanted.
“His jokes, even though they were dumb, we are celebrating the dumb jokes,” said Debbie.
Sewell was described as a jokester and someone who was always smiling. His daughter said he was even smiling when they saw him at the funeral home.
“It was good to see him. He was even smiling this morning. He really was. I don’t think he could help it,” said Diane Sing, Sewell’s daughter.
A viewing for Sewell will be held on Aug. 29 and a funeral reception will be held on Aug. 30 at the All Saint’s Church.
“He has such a fan base. He was such a big personality and that’s part of the reason it’s such a shock because, all of a sudden, this giant personality, this wonderful person is just gone,” his Debbie and Diane said.
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