When Sean laughed - which was often - his shoulders would shake. Even as a
toddler, he had an irrepressible chuckle. The ability to see the humorous
angle in almost any situation characterized Sean throughout his life. In
high school, he was notoriously irreverent. Later, during an early stint in
the restaurant business, his wit made a lasting impression on his staff for
whom he was both friend and mentor. During his career in insurance, he
forged lasting friendships with colleagues and clients alike, who remember
that contentious situations were often salvaged by Sean's sense of humor.
And his laughter and warmth made each day special for his wife.
Sean was both intelligent and wise, and his input was frequently solicited
by friends and family. He was extremely competent, directing his
intellectual skills to all manner of challenges, from scientific issues to
legal matters to perfecting recipes. While still in his teens, he
dismantled and then rebuilt a 1951 MG TD. He was self-taught in home
repairs, and each time he moved, he tackled major renovations. It was the
home in Connecticut, bought in 1987, where Sean's talents as a carpenter,
plumber, electrician and mason were put to spectacular use. The cement
steps that led to the front door were poured by Sean; the French doors
leading to the patio were installed by him; he built the fireplace mantle
in the living room, the kitchen cabinets, the dining room table and the
sectional couch frame in the TV room. He laid marble floors in the master
bathroom and hardwood floors in the kitchen. His yard was the envy of the
neighborhood, shaded with trees he planted, an herb garden he cultivated
and a lawn that rose up the hill like a green carpet. Weekends found him
golfing, playing tennis, working on projects or roller-blading, followed by
shopping for gourmet food items he would prepare later for dinner guests,
often cooking outdoors on his beloved Webber grill.
This is how Sean would want to be remembered
The evening sky has deepened into darkness on a soft summer night. He is
sitting on the stone step near the kitchen door, watching the fireflies
rise in the backyard over the newly mowed lawn. Friends are expected for
dinner. A steak is on the grill, a glass of wine is in his hand and his
wife is at his side. They are laughing. He is content.
Tribute submitted by Beverly Eckert.
A Man of the Kitchen
The kitchen in the house of Sean Rooney and his wife, Beverly Eckert, in Stamford, Conn., reminds her of him for several reasons. First, Mr. Rooney loved to cook. Even more, he loved to have his friends and family, and their conversation and laughter, in the kitchen with him when he did.
But there is another reason that Ms. Eckert likes to sit in their kitchen these days: The hardwood floors beneath her, the cabinets around her, the island in the middle and even the maple dining-room table were all built by Mr. Rooney, by hand. "When I sit there I'm completely surrounded by him," she said. "That makes me feel happy."
Mr. Rooney taught himself carpentry. And somehow, with the demands of commuting and his job as a vice president at Aon, he found time to make the kinds of tangible objects that were such a contrast to the abstractions of insurance.
Mr. Rooney and Ms. Eckert met when they were 16, at a high school dance. This year, they turned 50 together. And though they were very different, the words "Bev and Sean" were often spoken as one instead of three. On their second date, they went to see the movie "Camelot." From then on, they always felt that they were "happily- ever-aftering," as the song says.
"What I miss," his wife said, "is having him come through the door saying, `Where's my hug?'"
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 1, 2001.