Ex-Girard mayor, cop dies

GIRARD – The name Vincent ”Sonny” Schuyler is one for the history books for the city of Girard.

”Sonny was one of the most popular people in Girard’s history,” Mayor Jim Melfi said Wednesday. ”He was a fixture of the city and an important part of Girard. Sonny was not only mayor but a police detective and a school board member.”

Schuyler, 78, died Wednesday following a stroke. He served in many capacities in the city, including as mayor in the 1990s.

Melfi said the city staff was saddened to hear of Schuyler’s passing.

”My family knew Sonny for many years. My mother (Barbara Melfi) lived on James Street and Schuyler on Lizzy Street, so their families were friends. These two streets were right next to each other before they were taken out in 1969 when Interstate 80 was put in,” Melfi said.

He said everyone in the neighborhood – and eventually everyone in the community – knew Schuyler growing up as he moved to public service with the police department.

”Sonny was one of the first people outside my family I knew when I was a boy. I’ve known him all my life. He was like family to us,” Melfi said.

He said that years later, it was an honor for him to serve with him as a treasurer during Schuyler’s administration. Melfi was the city’s treasurer when Schuyler was the city’s 21st mayor from 1992 to 2000.

”He was just a great guy who will be missed,” Melfi said.

Safety Service Director Jerry Lambert served eight years as city council president, and worked with Schuyler.

”He was a very reasonable and understanding mayor, and easy to work with. He has a good rapport with city council and created a good working atmosphere for everyone,” Lambert said.

Lambert said as council president, he served as the liaison between the city administration and the council members.

”He was always available when you needed him or had a question,” Lambert said.

Schuyler had a distinguished public service career, having served as a police captain from 1973 to 1991, Girard Board of Education member from 1976 to 1984, and most recently a city councilman at-large.

When he was elected to council in 2011, Schuyler said, “I’ve been born and raised in Girard. I know it pretty good. I’m just glad to be down there as a team.”

A lost a reelection bid last year.

Schuyler worked with many senior citizens programs through the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, and was active at St. Rose Church, where he attended.

Last November, Schuyler shared his memories of being a young patrolman in 1960 when presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kennedy came to the area. On Oct. 9, 1960, Schuyler, then a patrolman in his third month with the Girard Police Department, was sitting at his usual post near the intersection of State and Liberty streets when the department was contacted by the U.S. Secret Service.

After giving a speech in Youngstown, Kennedy was on his way to deliver an address in Warren’s Courthouse Square, with the motorcade came slowly through Girard along State Street.

“Here I was, this young guy just starting out, and they say the Democrat candidate for the presidency, John Kennedy, was going to be coming through,” Schuyler said.

Kennedy spoke in Girard for about five minutes before shaking the officer’s hand and moving on to Warren, he said.

“We had no idea he was going to be stopping in Girard. It was pretty amazing to have a guy who was all over the newsreels and stuff right in front of us.”

Schuyler is survived by a son, Vincent Jr.; and two daughters, Denise and Deanna. His wife, Leanna, died in 2002.