Sebert Sisson, who played a large part in the growth of Hillsville, died on June 23 at the age of 97.
In his commencement speech at Virginia Tech in 1942, Sisson said, “In whatever community you choose to establish your roots, get involved in worthwhile community activities.” Getting involved was exactly what Sisson did.
Sisson taught vocational education at Hillsville High School before joining Appalachian Power Company as a marketing representative, promoting rural electrification and economic development before retiring until 1982. He was a member of the Hillsville Rotary Club, the Hillsville First United Methodist Church, the Carroll County Industrial Authority, the Carroll County School Board, the Wilkinson Cemetery Board, and a Mason. He also served as president of the Hillsville Chamber of Commerce and was mayor of Hillsville from 1956-1958. It was during his time as mayor that the town began garbage collection and the sidewalks were extended throughout town.
Councilman Greg Yonce, who named Sisson the town’s Citizen of the Month for February, said, “Sebert’s greatest satisfaction, both professionally and personally, came from successfully recruiting businesses that would create jobs for area citizens.”
Some of those businesses were Virginia Lee Hosiery, Sprague Electric, Quality Mills, Oster Corporation, Blue Ridge Woven Label, Lees Carpet, Bassett Walker, Burlington Mills and Long Airdox.
Sisson wasn’t all work though, said Yonce. “His hobbies included extensive research and writings concerning George L. Carter, the builder of the Carter Home. He also provided research that helped the Town of Hillsville develop its Historic District. He provided many of the photos of past mayors of Hillsville that are displayed here in council chambers.”
After Sisson’s retirement, he spent much of his time working with the Carroll County Historical Society and Museum. He gave tours and provided information on the exhibits, some of which he provided himself. Another hobby of Sisson’s was local Native American archeological excavations, which led to the creation of the Upper New River Chapter of the Archaeology Society of Virginia. He also managed the Nature Conservancy’s Mt. Meadow Preserve, which is now the location of the Carroll County Governmental Complex, the Carter Pines recreation area and the Beaver Dam Trail.
Yonce said he first met Sisson while he was working to get a certificate of need for what is now Trinity Mission.
“All of the adjoining property owners to the proposed site needed to sign a petition of support for rezoning,” said Yonce. “I was told that if I could get Sebert to sign it, I wouldn’t have any trouble getting the other owners to follow suit, and that was true. Sebert told me how important it was to bring in a facility such as Trinity, and he was glad it was being done. In looking back at the many contributions that Sebert has made to Hillsville, it is obvious that on that spring day in 1942, that at least one person was paying attention.”
Sisson is survived by his wife of 69 years Ruth Sutphen Sisson, daughters Mary Jo Sisson-Vaughan of Richmond and Martha Ann Sisson of McLean, two sons-in-law, two granddaughters, eight nieces and nephews, and numerous friends.
A celebration of Sisson’s life will be held at the Hillsville First United Methodist Church on Saturday, July 12 at 11 a.m. The family will be meeting with friends an hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Sebert Sisson’s memory to one of the following organizations which he actively supported: Hillsville First United Methodist Church, PO Box 356, Hillsville, VA 24343; the Hillsville Rotary Club, PO Box 1027, Hillsville, VA 24343, or Carroll County Historical Society & Museum, P.O. Box 937, Hillsville, VA 24343.