People cross through your path of life each and every day. Some spend a short time in your journey, others a little longer. Often it is not until they leave you that you remember the timeline and how special they were.
If you knew Dave Sechler you liked him. Thin fellow, not real tall, always a big smile. He liked to laugh and of course there was his glasses; couldn’t see a lick without them. One word defines him, selfless. He was dedicated to his God, family, which took in all that were close to him, not just his immediate kin, his work for the Salvation Army and basketball for the young and young at heart.
You could often find Sech in his office overseeing the Salvation Army gym for thirty years or so. The Sal as it is known to local basketball players has been a hoops Mecca for decades.
Sech was always there, booking gym times, supervising the action, making sure all ran smoothly and collecting the money for gym rental that went right into the Salvation Army coffers. Everyone would bring a couple or three bucks to pay for the use of the court.
Sech also enjoyed coaching a local high school tournament team years ago. They would play at the Sal and at BD (Bethune Douglas Community Center) in spring tournaments. I played for him on one of those tournament teams when I was 14 or 15 and continued to play at the Sal into my mid thirties. Sech made the Sal the place to play. Players from all over the greater Williamsport area would meet and compete in the name of pick-up basketball. It didn’t matter if you were 13 or 53. If you could play that was the place to be. If you forgot your money, it didn’t matter Sech would spot you until the next visit. He was a friend to all.
The Henningers, Paul Petcavage, Charlie Levering, Dutch Boycheck, the Tate Gang, Lefty Ron Travis, Randy Glunk, Kevin Baggett, Frankie Casale, the Grieco family, Lonnie Lee, the Burchs, Ody, I could go on and on. My buddy Jeff Hewlett, the Beiters, Andy Nichols, Jimmy and Carl Nolan, Churb, Scotty Peterson, Tom Burkholder, Judge Dudley Anderson and Dr. Bill Pagana. A wide variety of ages from all different walks of life with one thing in common, basketball.
The Sal was where hoops generations crossed, the young guys played the old guys. The young guys became the older guys and new blood came in. It has a special memory of a special time in my life, when I played hoops with and against so many good people, thanks to that man with the smile and those glasses who was always there at the gym.
I can hear Sech’s voice like it was yesterday greeting me as I walked in the gym, “Hey Webby”, or “there’s the guy who never saw a jumper he didn’t like.” If I wasn’t myself he would say “Are you good Webby?” Sech truly cared about people. He always seemed to have the right greeting and knew when something was bothering you. He would always take time to talk and joke as you watched the small 12” TV in his office. Usually he had on a college basketball game.
There was the Miller twins, Chris Sullivan, John Neylon, Dave Hane, Teddy and Rod Wilson, The Buchners, Scott Nicklas and the list goes on. Dave Geise, Lynn Hooper and Victor Brace, Mike Stanzione, Bobby Fesemyer, David Adams, John Hall, Brian Haas and Mike Schramm. Did I mention Lefty and his knee brace smoking a cig in the parking lot before he played?
So many players, so many gym hours, sorry if I left you out. I wonder how much money Dave brought in to the Salvation Army in the name of hoops over the years. I wonder how many folks played in that gym under Sech’s watch. Dave made every player who came in feel welcome.
My friend, Sech, did more for the Salvation Army than I could ever remember. He taught Sunday School, helped with food collection and distribution, went on missions, of course rang the bell for the Holiday collection, helped with payroll, did janitorial service and much more. He retired from Canada Dry Bottling and then worked for Crystal Beverage Company. I would stop to see him when we first began the Webb Weekly. Dave was always hustling, working hard for his employer. He would speak with me for a couple of minutes and then “gotta get back to work Webby” and off he would go.
It was for his love of hoops and providing a place for everyone to play that he will be most remembered. He was an angel of the hardwood, a true friend to all who played the game. What he provided for so many was much more than basketball. He made our community a better place through all his efforts at the Salvation Army.
A squeaky sneaker salute to you Sech from all of us!