Yorktown Environmental Advocate Remembers Time With Seeger

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David Rocco with folk singer Pete Seeger, whom he befriended late in Seeger's life.
David Rocco with folk singer Pete Seeger, whom he befriended late in Seeger's life. Photo Credit: Courtesy of David Rocco

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- David Rocco, a Yorktown resident and community activist, was one of the many people to call Pete Seeger a friend.

Seeger, who died Jan. 27, at the age of 94, was a supporter of many of the same projects that were advocated for by Rocco.

Rocco, who helped start the Yorktown Dog Park, worked with Seeger on the Walkway Over The Hudson project in Poughkeepsie and the Mount Beacon Fire Tower Restoration project.

"I was fortunate to become a friend to Pete Seeger and his family," Rocco said. 

Rocco first meet Seeger at the 2007 Clearwater Festival held annually at Croton Point Park.

"He walked up to my walkway outreach table to start talking about the crazy dream to turn an old forgotten railroad bridge into a multi-use linear park in the sky," Rocco said. "From that day on, we became friends."

Seeger gave Rocco his phone number and one day Rocco found himself in Cold Spring and was invited to Seeger's house in Beacon.

"Here I am at this guy's house, looking at old photographs and talking about all these different things," Rocco said.

Rocco said Seeger was intently focused on community activism and his non-profit initiatives were well-run. He praised Seeger for being a staunch advocate and helping to prevent dumping in the Hudson River. 

"He never stopped," Rocco said. "His family would try to get him to slow down, but he couldn't say no. He'd do it all for free. He was remarkable.

On Sunday, Rocco was one of those who attended Seeger's funeral.

"It was emotional," Rocco said. "It was very touching."

Rocco said he tried not to be in awe of Seeger, noting that the singer mowed his own lawn. When Rocco told Seeger he had researched him on Wikipedia, Seeger grew modest.

"I was young and dumb and made a lot of mistakes," Seeger said.

"You were an American patriot," Rocco said. "You took a stand when very few people did."

Rocco said Seeger was always about helping children and loved teaching them to sail on the Clearwater sloop.

"I am forever grateful I got to meet him," Rocco said. "He was so approachable."

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