Sistrunk leaves proud legacy
The town of Sebastopol lost a native son, public leader, and tireless entrepreneur with the death of Nolen Sistrunk last week. The longtime businessman and former Sebastopol Mayor was laid to rest in the same city where he was born, and made a difference in so many lives along the way.
In a 2016 interview with The Scott County Times Sistrunk said of his hometown, “This is my home. It is a special place to me and I have just wanted to make it a better place whenever I could for my family and the people of our town. If there is a need and if I can help, I always try to be there in any way I can.”
Sistrunk lived out those very words in numerous ways throughout his lifetime. He first acted on his entrepreneurial spirit that ultimately helped spur growth in Sebastopol in 1959. With a single tractor trailer he founded a transportation company that would later grow to a fleet of 30 trucks that crisscrossed the country hauling goods.
The trucking company was the first business Sistrunk’s started in or around Sebastopol, but it was only the beginning for a man that always seemed to be looking for a business opportunity that could help support his family and make his hometown better.
Sebastopol Mayor Greg McGarrity said that he has known the Sistrunk family most of his life. “My grandfather and grandmother worked with Mr. Sistrunk for years, and they were not the only ties our families have,” he said. “Since I became mayor, he has always supported the town in any way he could. He was not only a businessman that created jobs for a lot of people, he was a man that truly loved this town and it really showed in the things he did.”
Sistrunk would move on to establish a number of very successful business ventures that included a large chicken farm, real estate, grocery store, pallet business, skating rink and bowling alley. Through the years the Sistrunk name became synonymous with success, but he made sure to help spread that success by creating employment opportunities at every turn in Sebastopol.
After enjoying success in business, Sistrunk turned his attention to local politics. He served on the Sebastopol Board of Alderman for 10 years and served as town mayor for another 10 years. During his tenures in office he always kept the well being of his hometown citizens as the priority.
Sistrunk had no problem proving people wrong when he was told he couldn’t do something as he recalled in 2016. “The superintendent in school once told me that if I didn’t straighten up I would only amount to being a ditch digger. Well, I ran in to that superintendent a good many years later and told him I have the backhoe and I’m ready to dig that ditch.”
As much as Sistrunk enjoyed his success in the business world he took great pride in his greatest success which was his family and his wife of 59 years, Hazel Elaine. Sistrunk and his wife have two daughters, five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
“Mr. Sistrunk was a great family man and a big part of our local economy, but he was a lot more than that,” McGarrity added. “He was a man who always trying to do right by everyone around him, especially his family and the people in Sebastopol. He will be missed in so many ways.”