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John Robert Seelye
May 28, 1956 ~ November 21, 2023 (age 67) 67 Years Old
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John Robert “Rob” (Burbank) Seelye, 67, died unexpectedly Tuesday, Nov. 21 at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital after a prolonged illness. He was born May 28, 1956 to the late Col. Robert A. Burbank (USA) and Barbara F. (Gorman) (Burbank) Seelye. He was adopted at the age of 5 by the late David W. Seelye. Raised in Northfield, Conn., attended the former Northfield School and graduated from Litchfield High School in 1974. While in junior high school, Rob developed a love of raising and training steers to become oxen, instructed by mentor Linus Gilbert of Northfield, and joined a 4-H trained steers club under the direction of his friend and mentor Arthur Hine of Harwinton. He also had a great passion for music and was a member of various chorus, choirs and bands, including being a member of the 1974 All New England Band and Chorus. He was the first student ever accepted at the Western Connecticut State University for both instrument (trumpet) and voice. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1976, graduating first in his platoon as Meritorious PFC, at Parris Island Recruit Training Depot, in South Carolina. During his Marine Corps career, he was a truck driver in the Motor Transport Division and a dispatcher, transferring to avionics division, where he repaired and tracked parts for F-18 fighters and enjoyed traveling the world. He received the Navy Achievement Medal for improving the national parts tracking system increasing its efficiency. He also received the Expeditionary Medal (unit citation) and a Humanitarian Medal — another unit citation for rescuing Vietnamese boat people from the Indian Ocean. He earned the Good Conduct Medal with two stars, a Marine Unit Citation and a Navy Unit Citation. He also held the Connecticut Veterans’ Medal. While stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., he was exposed to contaminated water and was the Nuclear, Chemical and Biological (NBC) instructor, and considered his 12 years’ service his life’s highest honor to have served in the United States Marine Corps. After medically retiring from the Marine Corps, he established, with his wife, Old Twin Oaks Farm in Harwinton, where he raised and trained oxen and raised domestic meat birds, repeatedly admonishing is sister, “If it can’t go in the freezer it doesn’t go in my barn,” whenever she asked about boarding a horse. Children brought Rob the greatest joy, and for several years he volunteered as a hall monitor and front-door “security” at Harwinton Consolidated School, where the kids knew him as “Pop.” He was a 50-year member of the Beacon Grange No.118 in Northfield.
He leaves his wife of 42 years Sarah F. (Winslow) (Lukacovic); two sons Gerald F. Lukacovic Jr., and John N. Seelye and his wife Denae, all of Harwinton; his sister Tracy F. Seelye of Whitman, Mass., and brothers, David F. Seelye of North Carolina; Robert A. Burbank Jr., of Ozark, Ala. He was “Pop” to his two grandchildren, Nathan R. Seelye and Jasmine S. M. Seelye of Harwinton and several other “grandchildren” he had adopted in his heart. He also leaves several aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws. He was predeceased by all of his parents and a brother, Jeffrey D. Seelye and in-laws, George and Charlotte Winslow.
Friends and relatives are invited to visitation from noon to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 25 at Phalen Funeral Home, 285 Migeon Ave. Torrington, followed by a service at the funeral home. Burial will be at a later date. A luncheon will follow the service at Founder’s Congregational Church, 41 Birge Park Road, Harwinton.In lieu of flowers, donations may given to Wounded Warriors Project [woundedwarriorproject.org] or Connecticut Children’s Medical Center [connchildrens.org].