Cosmans preparing to say farewell to Sewickley community
by Kristina Serafini
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Sewickley felt like home the first time Jim and Sandee Cosman stepped into town many years ago.
They were coming from the Pittsburgh International Airport and found themselves in the village, admiring the quaint shops and nearby homes.
“Oh, I like this,” Sandee recalls saying, and it wasn’t long before the couple walked into a Broad Street real estate agency, where Jim introduced themselves, telling the agent they were relocating from Memphis, Tenn.
The Cosmans were taken around to homes for sale in various Pittsburgh neighborhoods, but they found nothing that compared to Sewickley.
Shortly thereafter, the couple settled into a home in Sewickley Heights, where they lived for several years before moving away, only to relocate back to Sewickley Heights in 2007.
In total, the couple lived in the Sewickley area for more than 14 years, but on Aug. 16, will move to Roswell, Ga., to be closer to family.
Since a Sewickley Herald article ran in December about them coping with Jim’s Alzheimer’s, the disease has progressed rapidly.
“He is so confused. You look at him and he looks like a million dollars,” but on the inside he’s not, Sandee said.
Jim was diagnosed with a visual variant of Alzheimer’s disease called posterior cortical atrophy in 2006.
His blood pressure continues to drop lower and lower. She prays when he goes, that he goes peacefully in his sleep.
“We needed to be around family,” she said of the decision to leave town. One of the Cosmans’ adult children lives just a few miles away from their new place in Roswell, and Sandee’s brotheralso is in the area.
“Just to know that we’ll have that support…” her voice trailed off.
Fighting tears, Sandee talks about how the house they are leaving on Blackburn Road will be the last house the couple will ever own together.
Tears fall down her face as she explains her feelings about leaving a town and city they love so much.
“We’ve loved everywhere we’ve lived,” Sandee said, “but Pittsburgh’s got the lead,” Jim finished.
Since meeting in 1963, Jim and Sandee have lived an active life.
They married in 1964 and through the years had four children.
In 1965, Jim signed his first Major League contract as a pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals and was later drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1969 before retiring from the game.
Jim then moved onto the waste managementbusiness, starting with Browning Ferris Waste Industries in Nashville in 1972 as a truck driver.
He worked his way up to regional vice president before taking on president and chief operating officer responsibilities for Republic Services, headquartered in Phoenix.
The company provides solid-waste collection, transfer, recycling and disposal services in 40 states and Puerto Rico.
When the couple moved to Pittsburgh, Jim, who was now retired, called then mayor Tom Murphy to offer his expertise after reading a newspaper article in an effort to help fix the city’s garbage issues. He volunteered his time to analyze how garbage was being collected and recommended changes.
“(Jim) impacted a lot of people in the city,” Sandee said.
And they’ve undoubtedly impacted him as well.
“The people that we’ve met here…how nice they are,” Jim said.
“Sewickley and our family are so intertwined, woven like a quilt. We are so thankful,” Sandee said. “The people here in Sewickley—everyone is an extension of one another. The people that have taken care of us have been so special…just so caring.”
Sandee said when the last of her family moved from the area last fall, she knew she and Jim should’ve gone, too “But I just couldn’t,” she said.
They had their routines—went to mass at Christ Church at Grove Farm, attended memory loss and Alzheimer’s groups monthly, visited the farmers market, Starbucks and Giant Eagle on most Saturdays and Jim spent a few days each week at Valley Care Adult Day Care in Moon.
And though Sandee doesn’t expect Jim to make it longer than three years, the couple’s faith has kept them moving forward.
“We look to the next phase,” Sandee said.
They always look forward, never backward, she added.
“Jim and I had a very large life and we’re very blessed.”
Jim Cosman passed away peacefully, at home, on 7 Jan 2013, aged 69.
Extract from James H Cosman Snr Obituary:
Jim was passionate about people always telling them to “Keep Smiling” and “Doing Things Better”. He was generous to others and to various Christian organizations.