The Roselle Catholic community was saddened to learn that Edward "Eddie" Sisk, Class of 1975, Patriarch of Elizabeth's fire department as second-generation fire chief, RC Board Member and leading figure in Roselle Catholic and Irish-American circles and youth sports coach, passed away on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 at age 60.
When I first heard the very shocking and sad news that Ed Sisk of the Class of 1975 had suddenly left us, my immediate thought of Ed was, “his devotion to Roselle Catholic was matchless.” It took only a minute before I realized that RC was not the only fortunate recipient of Ed’s dedication and devotion. Ed had an extraordinarily wide orbit that he brought his boundless energy, commitment and enthusiasm to bear.
First and foremost Ed was devoted to his family, wife Helen, and their three children, Edward, Nicholas and Erin, all RC alumni. Ed was devoted to the Elizabeth Fire Department, which he joined in 1980, rising through the ranks, following his father’s legacy to become its Chief in 2003, before retiring in 2010.
It’s an understatement to say Ed was a man of many passions. He was a dedicated board member at Roselle Catholic, an active volunteer in the RC community, running fundraisers, and coaching girls' softball from 2003 to 2015.
In September of 2011, as RC Board Chair at the time, I asked Ed to join the board. It was here that I saw first hand the devotion and work ethic that was part of Ed’s DNA. Ed was not satisfied just coming to Board meetings. He had to be involved. He volunteered. He did the heavy lifting! In addition to his coaching RC Girls softball for 12-years, he brought his ceaseless energy to the Board’s Physical Plant & Campus Safety committee and its many projects, as well as organizing the RC Saint Patrick's Day Dance.
Ed was also a dedicated parishioner to St. Genevieve's in Elizabeth and active member of the Knights of Columbus.
Upon retirement, Ed continued his dedication to civil service as a contractor and subject matter expert for the N.J. Civil Service Commission. In addition to his memorable career with the EFD, Ed led a life dedicated to volunteerism in the community. He was an active volunteer with youth sport programs with Saint Adalbert's, Saint John the Apostle, North Elizabeth Little League, and Elmora Youth League.
Ed found great joy in combining his Irish heritage with his desire to give back. He was a past president of The Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick of Union County and was named the Union County Saint Patrick's Day Parade's Distinguished Serviceman of the Year.
In 2007, Chief Sisk took immense pride in swearing in his two sons, Eddie and Nick, as fourth generation firefighters in the City of Elizabeth, continuing a family honor and tradition. Daughter Erin Sisk ’06 shared, “Many say one of the proudest days of of my Dad's life was swearing in his two sons into EFD, but our father was proud, everyday, of Eddie and Nick, the men they have become, and the men they continue to be.”
Ed was instrumental in coordinating the Elizabeth Fire Department's mutual aid response to New York City following the 9/11 attack. He was a past president of Elizabeth IAFF Fire Officers Local 2040.
Daughter Erin further shared, “They say age is just a number, despite only having 60 short years, Dad accomplished more than most do in 90 years. He joined the Elizabeth Fire Department and quickly climbed the ranks, but never with sacrificing any aspect of his family life. He stood by us all in any way he could. We are better people for having Eddie Sisk in our lives, but we are even better for having been loved by him.”
One alum, having attended Ed's wake and funeral mass, told me that it resembled the memorial for a Head of State. Knowing Ed, I think he’d be embarrassed by that. Yet, for us he left behind and the wide orbit he touched, it’s a tribute we know he deserves.
In his memory, Ed’s family and family’s have established The Edward Joseph Sisk Scholarship Fund at Roselle Catholic. Donations may be made online via the link below or sent to Roselle Catholic High School, 350 Raritan Rd., Roselle, N.J. 07203
by Tom Libonate '64