July 28, 2023 — On July 10, PEF President Wayne Spence, PEF Staff and PEF Retirees gathered with Molly Sheedy to honor her late husband, James (Jim) Sheedy at PEF headquarters in Latham, N.Y. Sheedy was one of the founding members of PEF. He passed away in August 2021.
Molly Sheedy reached out to PEF earlier this year to discuss a way to honor Jim.
“We worked with her to plant one of his favorite trees – a Japanese Maple – and had a plaque created honoring his years of service,” President Spence told attendees at the ceremony.
Sheedy is the longest serving Statewide Officer in PEF history. After being elected to the Executive Board representing the Department of Transportation, he served as a vice president from 1979 to 1982, then secretary-treasurer from 1982-1994, and one term as president, from 1994-1997.
“During his presidency, Jim was laser focused on unifying PEF and working toward better contracts, job improvements and stronger laws to protect members,” President Spence said.
It was Sheedy who worked to structure the union and created the Contract Administration department, which helped PEF negotiate its first contract with the State.
After 18 years of service as an officer of PEF, Sheedy returned to his job as a civil engineer at the NYS Department of Transportation, where he worked until 2000 before retiring to Arizona.
Retirees who worked with Jim Sheedy, like Bill Crotty, the Retirees President from Region 7, described Sheedy as “hard working, kind, decent, smart and honorable.” Others described him as a humble man.
“He was PEF’s North Star,” Molly Sheedy said about her husband. “And it was thanks to PEF that we met.”
Molly and Jim met while she worked as a nurse at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. She was an active union member herself, attending conventions each year, including the one in Niagara Falls when she first met Jim. They would have celebrated their 36th anniversary this year. She recounted stories of their time together and his dedication to not only the union, but to charity work.
“I found two full pages, single-spaced, dedicated to every single charity he was involved with or donating to,” Molly said, as she recalled cleaning out his office following his passing.
Although the day started off with a downpour, the sky later cleared, and the sun shined as Molly visited the memorial and spoke about her late husband’s legacy.
“He would have appreciated this,” she said. “But he would also have hated it.”