EBENSBURG - Tony "Seb" Sebetich usually had a good joke for tough times like this one, his friends said Thursday.
It's one reason those who knew the 46-year-old Ebensburg man wore smiles remembering the longtime Ebensburg patrolman, firefighter and community leader this week - just days after he succumbed to a lengthy struggle with cancer.
"No matter what the circumstance, Seb always found a way to inject humor into it - even after all he went through," said Cambria County Emergency Management Director Ron Springer, who is a fellow longtime Dauntless Fire Company member. "He rode the storm well."
A Nanty Glo native, Sebetich approached life with a smile but took community seriously, friends added.
He started as a patrolman with Ebensburg in 1986 and became full time in 1991, eventually becoming the department's assistant chief until health issues forced him to retire in 2009.
Much of that time he also served with Dauntless, becoming a deputy chief and fire instructor after spending previous years with the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department.
"Tony was just an outstanding member of the community," said Ebensburg Patrolman Scott Stoltz, noting Sebetich also served with the Mainline Police Association. "He was a guy who went above and beyond the call to help friends, family and strangers here."
Sebetich was among those Dauntless could count on behind the scenes when work needed to be done, Springer said.
"He was always there at a moment's notice, willing to do the legwork," he said. "We're seeing now just how much he did with members trying to pick up the bootstraps and handle the things he was doing."
"He'll be deeply missed," Stoltz added, noting that Ebensburg's station has been flooded with calls and e-mails since news of Sebetich's passing began to circulate.
Inside the Cambria County Courthouse and across the county Thursday, local police and Cambria Sheriff's Deputies wore black mourning bands over their badges in the longtime officer's honor.
A vigil and prayer service will be held for Sebetich tonight during a visitation that runs from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Askew-Houser Funeral Home, Ebensburg.
A funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Holy Name Catholic Church, Ebensburg. Interment will follow at St. Mary's Cemetery, Nanty Glo.