A tribute to Sid Couchey was placed at the front of the Essex Community Church during memorial services June 23.
Family, friends and community members packed the Essex Community Church June 23 to remember a man of faith, family, art and humor.
The Essex community paid its final respects to cartoonist Sid Couchey, who created the characters Little Dot, Little Lotta, Richie Rich and Rascal the Racoon for Harvey Comics. He died March 11.
The public service was attended by several friends and family who remembered the lifelong Essex resident for his humor and his support of church and family.
“We had many opportunities to talk together, laugh together and pray together,” Rev. John Hunn said. “He once told the members of a Meadowmount ensemble that he was thankful they had come to church because they lowered the average age of the congregation from 80 to 70. It has been a delight to know Sid and to have been his pastor.”
Charlie Lewis spoke of his rendition of the Lake Champlain monster, Champy.
“It will warm the hearts of local residents and people worldwide as long as the water crests on Lake Champlain,” Lewis said. “Sid loved the North Country and he loved its people.”
Lewis also spoke about the two “clubs” Couchey belonged to — the Do Nothing Club and the First Ball Pitchers Hall of Fame, both located in Whallonsburg.
“There is no doubt that Sid attracted many people to this prodigious group, whose mission is to do nothing,” he said. “When he had the chance to throw out the first pitch in Montreal, he seized upon the opportunity for a Couchey extravaganza as he was dressed in his Cleveland (Indians, Couchey’s favorite baseball team) gear, he gave a memorable performance for all the spectators.”
Lewis concluded by speaking of the love Couchey had for his family.
“He loved his children and beautiful families beyond description and adored and loved his wife, Ruth,” he said.
Ronnie Hollingsworth, a relative, said Couchey was always the “main attraction” at family outings.
“His relaying of amazing stories always had us in stitches, and his delivery was magical,” Hollingsworth said. “His love for his kinfolk was genuine and never-ending.”
UVM professor Dr. Kim Worden talked about working with Couchey and the Rascal the Racoon campaign, aimed at teachings kids about the dangers of alcohol.
“There was a student that told me there was someone that I had to meet,” Worden said. “He would have workshops and show the kids how to draw Rascal and other characters. It was just plain fun working with Sid, and this will always be a part of his legacy, that he did this work to help children.”
Robert Hasse talked about knowing Couchey when he lived in New York City.
“I knew when I met him that this was my kind of man, and I am sure that you feel the same way,” Hasse said. “He had a warm, gentle manor and a humor to go with it.”
Hasse also said that Couchey was the same person no matter who he was dealing with.
“The Sid you know here was the same Sid we had down there, and we thank you for lending him to us,” he said. “He was full of fun, but he was a very sensitive man. Each of you has a bag full of stories about Sid, go ahead and enjoy them.”
Daughter Laura Couchey Abate said to the congregation that her father was “the antidote to my brain.”
“I love to tell my kids the stories about the kind of dad he was and what he did with us,” Abate said. “He really did have a twinkle in his eyes. Dad always showed kindness and found ways to be a blessing for our family and the community.”
Hunn also read a tribute from Couchey’s son, Brian, who said his father was the one who taught him about the importance of life when he would capture spiders and release them outdoors instead of killing them.
“Humor has been your hallmark and seasons every part of your life,” Hunn read from Brian’s tribute. “By your love for mom, you taught me more than words can express. Your name is loved and honored by so many, I am proud to be a Couchey.”
Internment followed the ceremony at the Whallons Bay Cemetery.