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90-year-old wakes up Stafford YMCA
Stafford County man, 90, has been opening up the Massad branch of the YMCA for 20 years

 YMCA patron Tina Jackson (left) walks with YMCA employee Norman Sedgley after their morning workouts. Sedgley opens the Y's Massad Family Branch in Stafford for patrons.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 11/26/2012

By CATHY DYSON

Norman Sedgley gets up in the middle of the night to make the world a safer place.

The 90-year-old arrives at the Massad Family Branch of the Rappahannock Area YMCA between 3:30 and 4 a.m. to get it ready for those who come after him.

Wearing comfortable, thick-soled shoes, he walks through the darkened building, switching on lights and TVs, unlocking storage rooms and studios and picking up towels and trash left behind.

He follows his walk-through with almost an hour in the pool and 150 repetitions on a body-building machine.

Then Sedgley reaps the benefits of getting up at such an ungodly hour.

He sits in the front lobby and holds what's known as "the love clinic." Women, young and old, but mostly in Medicare range, practically line up for hugs.

They sit by his side and tell him about their weekends and families, their issues at work and troubles at home.

Sedgley pays his utmost attention to whatever woman is beside him. When one leaves, he greets another, saying, "Where have you been? I've been waiting for you for years."

Staff and patrons alike giggle at the way the white-haired Sedgley simply pats the seat next to him, summoning company--and getting it.

"You see the control he has over women?" joked Melissa Taylor, the YMCA staffer who shares the early-morning hours with Sedgley. "It drives me crazy."

A man offered a different point of view.

"He's got all the women," said Val Folden, a friend who works out with Sedgley. "I just ask for the crumbs."

A REASON TO GET UP

Sedgley started opening the YMCA on Butler Road about 20 years ago, after he and chief executive Barney Reiley talked. Sedgley said he wouldn't want his wife or daughter coming into a darkened building at that hour--and didn't want YMCA users to do it, either

"On some level, it's almost a sign of chivalry," Reiley said. "This guy is a throwback, the quintessential gentleman."

Sedgley started getting up by 2:30 a.m. and heading to Butler Road from his Stafford County home. His services are strictly volunteer.

In the 10 years since his wife, Clara, died, his need to be at the YMCA before dawn has given him a reason to get up every day.


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BACKGROUND: He was born and raised in Maine and loved it there, except for the winters. Most of his friends there have died, and he hasn't been back in 10 years. MILITARY SERVICE: Served in some of the biggest conflicts of the European theater during World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge, but doesn't talk much about his experiences. "They aren't good memories," he said. CAREER: He was a rigging superintendent who set heavy equipment on nuclear- and coal-fired power plants. Came to Virginia in 1971 to work at North Anna and stayed in the area. RETIRED in 1984. "If I had known I was going to live so long, I wouldn't have retired so early," he said. FAMILY: Was married 56 years to Clara, who taught school for 25 years in Maine and died in 2002. Has one daughter, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.