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Former LI parks chief John Sheridan dies

John G. Sheridan was a demanding, workaholic boss who loved the outdoors. So his recreation jobs that included regional director of Long Island state parks and Suffolk County parks commissioner suited him well, those who knew him say.

Sheridan, of upstate Latham, who worked for the state and county parks systems for two decades, died of cancer Monday at the Community Hospice in Samaritan Hospital in Troy. He was 67.

"He was clearly a champion of outdoor recreation and a champion of Long Island," said Ronald Foley, regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "He set an example that many of us followed."

Born in Brooklyn, Sheridan moved with his family to Rockville Centre, where he graduated from St. Agnes School. He received a business degree from St. John's University and then worked as an English teacher and basketball and football coach at Seton Hall High School in Patchogue.

The passionate golfer served six years as director of the Patchogue parks and recreation department. Then in 1975 Sheridan was named Long Island general manager for the state parks office.

Bethpage State Park manager David Catalano, who was promoted by Sheridan from superintendent at Caleb Smith State Park to assistant superintendent for all the Island parks, said, "He was exceptionally dedicated. He was a workaholic. He was a taskmaster. He could be exceptionally stern, but he had a big heart."

Sheridan became Suffolk parks commissioner in 1988. A year later he returned to state parks to serve as an administrator in the Albany headquarters. In 1992 he was named regional director for the Saratoga/Capital District state parks.

He retired in 1995 and worked part-time at the Albany County Hockey Facility in Loudonville.

Sheridan, who will be cremated, is survived by two sons, John M. Sheridan of Astoria and Michael Sheridan of Latham; three brothers, Thomas Sheridan of Tampa, Fla., Paul Sheridan of Raleigh, N.C., and William Sheridan of Cold Spring Harbor; a sister, Adele Vozzo of Latham; and a grandson.

The family requests that donations be made to Community Hospice of Rensselaer County, 295 Valley View Blvd., Rensselaer, NY 12144.

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