Sidney Sellers Van Leer

COLEBROOK — Sidney Sellers Van Leer, 93, of Old Colebrook Road, died unexpectedly on Sept. 25, 2018. He was the husband of Arlene M. (Hein) Van Leer for 27 years. 

Born Feb. 7, 1925, in Philadelphia, Pa., he was the son of the late Charlotte B. (Dubbs) and Joseph W. Van Leer. 

His military service in World War II was served “with distinction” as a member of the U.S. Naval Armed Guard Gun Crew Unit, assigned to protect merchant vessels in combat situations in the European Theater of Operations. 

A 1949 graduate of Spring Garden College in Pennsylvania, his career as an electronic engineer led him through computer, missile and space positions for 40 years. 

Prior to his retirement in 1990, he coordinated radio and television communication test elements of the Space Shuttle for Rockwell International (now Boeing Corp.), the prime NASA contractor for design and development of the shuttle, in Downey, Calif. 

He was involved in all successful space flights after the Challenger accident. 

Before retiring, he studied for the ministry and was ultimately licensed and ordained by the Full Gospel Tabernacle in California, where he served as outreach pastor and conducted services in convalescent homes and prisons. Locally, he acted as assistant to pastors of two churches in Winsted and served as treasurer of one of the churches for a while as well as conducting services at a local rest home. He was also a member of the Greater Winsted Area Ministerial Association. 

Sidney was a vocalist and sang in area coffee houses, at the Boars Head Festival for two years and as guest soloist for the Farmington Valley Christian Women’s Club. He also sang for the Christian Fellowship Center in Bristol, where he was a member and served in a variety of assignments. He directed a local chapter of the internationally known Christian Men’s Network for several years and produced their program on local public access TV. He was an active member of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International, the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International, a former member of Promisekeepers and current member of Christian Coalition. Other local organizations that he was associated with were the Colebrook Historical Society, the Colebrook Associates, Senior Centers in Colebrook (where he served as a member of the Board of Advisors), McCarthy Senior Center in Winsted (where he sang with the senior chorus in convalescent home appearances), the Sullivan Senior Center in Torrington, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (where he served as public relations officer), American Legion Post No. 27 in Litchfield, the Elks Lodge in Torrington and the Academy of American Poets in New York. 

Sid served as representative for the town of Colebrook on the Northwestern Regional Advisory Board to Pegasus Cable TV and the Mad River Public Access TV Board of Directors, was a Colebrook Democratic Town Committeeman and treasurer, a Colebrook Justice of the Peace and a Colebrook deputy voters registrar. 

He produced, directed and served as Master of Ceremonies for the first Senior Citizen Poetry contest ever held on public TV in Winsted. 

He was also active in the Code Blue and Winsted Health Organizations in their attempt to restore Winsted Memorial Hospital. 

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Eric Van Leer and his wife, Jerilyn; a daughter, Joyce Koller and her husband, Robert; his stepchildren, Ronald Cormier, Sherri Savanella, Darlene Cormier and Dean Cormier; his grandchildren, Meredith Whiting and Justin Van Leer; his step-grandchildren, Danielle Robade, Jacob and Alex Savanella and Gianna Masucci; his great-grandchildren, Isabella Whiting and William Whiting; and several nieces and nephews. 

Sidney was predeceased by his first wife, Nancy M. (Amato) Van Leer; a daughter, Lori S. Holloway; and four brothers, Randolph Justice Van Leer, George R. Van Leer, Joseph Wayne Van Leer and Bernard W. Van Leer. 

Services have already been held. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Legion Veteran of Foreign Wars. For the online guestbook, go to www.Montano-shea.com.