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Tony Sedgwick: A Moving Force

By Elisabeth Morales

John Anthony Sedgwick has been making moves his whole life, beginning from the moment he was born in Spain of 1950.

Better known as Tony, he spent the first part of his life bouncing around Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia while his father served in the Diplomatic Corps as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. Along with four other siblings, Tony never spent more than a few years at most in one place growing up. Madrid was his favorite city to live in and also holds the title as the place they lived longest throughout his childhood, a whole 4 years.

Despite the frequent moves, the Sedgwick family did have one special place they referred to as “home”. As a U.S. foreign service officer, it is required the officer spend at least a month somewhere in the United States and that somewhere happened to be in Nogales, Arizona, where his heart and roots reside today

Born into wealth, Tony studied at private schools in Massachusetts, a boarding school in Paris and furthered his education by completing a master’s degree at the Fletcher School of International Law at and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts.  It would be impossible to know any of this by speaking with him though.

Tony’s warm smile, big white cowboy hat and funny phrases like “foot loose and fancy free” were genuine and kind. The first two buttons of his blue collared shirt were undone and he had a casual aura about him that made him extremely approachable, almost as if he were an old friend or family member.

According to Tony, his family has a longstanding tradition of giving back to the community.

“I have always felt that carrying privilege comes with responsibility,” he says.

His uncle was the Rockefeller’s lawyer, his grandfather the founder of the Atlantic Monthly and Little Brown Publishing Company, yet most of what they passed on highlights another family tradition.

“My house is full of furniture that I inherited because in my family we inherit furniture rather than money,” said Tony. “My uncle was the lawyer for the Rockefeller family, very affluent and he left us a $1 million worth of furniture and gave $180 million to a sanctuary outside of New York, so there’s always been that tradition of passing down furniture.”

The traditions don’t stop there. The importance of education is also passed down from generation to generation in the Sedgwick family, which could be why Tony had such a successful law career.

After receiving a degree in International Law in Massachusetts, Tony planned on returning to Spain to write about the Franco Era but as luck would have it, life had different plans.

At the age of 25, he fell in love and was married to a big-hearted Italian-American woman from Philly. Suddenly Spain didn’t seem so urgent. Providing for his new family did.

He returned to school for a J.D. (a degree usually required to practice law) at the University of Arizona’s College of Law and went on to become a successful lawyer in Nogales for seven years. A move to Philadelphia was the next move for the family he loved so much and following that was a high-risk business venture for Tony looking at the difference between perceived risks in third world investments.

As this venture fund was being put together, tragedy struck.

The compassionate Mrs. Sedgwick, who would often take in foster children and battered women, had been diagnosed with cancer.

From a highly respected lawyer on the East Coast, having seven assistants, being a consultant of Forbes and traveling the world to being “Mr. Mom”, as he calls it, was a complete turnaround.

“All of a sudden, I was getting up to make breakfast, vacuuming, taking Patty to the doctors, making sure that Dave was in school and doing his homework and doing all the things that are traditionally what women do, you know,” said Tony.

But through it all, he learned the beauty of taking care of people, something that would take him a long way later on.

About six months prior to the passing of his wife, she wanted to go home- Nogales.

In September of 2003 she passed. This was an especially hard time for Tony as his brother had just passed in October of 2002 and in July of 2003, just two months before the passing of his wife, Tony’s father passed as well. Within a year’s time, Tony had lost those who had helped shape him the most.

As Sedgwick tradition promises, Tony’s father left furniture and 80 percent of his estate to Tony for charitable purposes and in 2005, Tony took possession of Las Lagunas De Anza, wetlands in Nogales previously purchased by his father to drain and fill with commercial property. However, upon learning of the historic and educational value of the site Tony’s father chose to preserve it. For the next four years under Tony’s control the wetlands were protected and preserved but not restored. That changed in 2009 with Tony’s most recent large project.

With the idea of creating a resource for the community in mind, Tony set out to convince teachers at Nogales High School to offer up extra credit to students for coming to the wetlands to help clean and clear the site. Of course, they loved the idea.

Little did he know that many more would contribute. He had about 200 volunteers coming to help clear the wetlands ranging from elderly folk from Tubac to the Anza Trail Coalition to Nogales Clean and Beautiful.

“It was all kinds of people coming together to create the most beautiful place in Nogales,” said Tony.

He wanted to create something beautiful, just for the sake of beauty, because as he says, everyone needs some beauty in their lives.

With tears in his eyes, Tony recalled the great impact of helping others has on him.

“I am a man well acquainted with grief, I lost much of my life, but now I get to cry out of happiness,” his tears turned into a laugh and a shrug. “It’s a beautiful thing to cry tears not from sorrow.”

For Tony, the meaning of life is simple. It is to make the lives and circumstances of others a little bit better from having been in his contact, and he continues to do just that today, residing in Nogales tending to his family, Las Lagunas de Anza and another family gift nearby, Santa Fe Ranch. However, this doesn’t mean he has any intentions of being slowed down. His next move? A masters degree in fine arts online from Bay Path University in Massachusetts and a trip to Iceland at the end of the month-but though he may travel often and has lived in some of the most beautiful places in the world, Nogales, Arizona is where Tony’s roots remain. 

 

Additional Information:

For more information on The Las Lagunas de Anza, please visit their website at:
Las Lagunas de Anza

For more information on The Santa Fe Ranch, please visit their website at:
Santa Fe Ranch Foundation

Contact them at:
Santa Fe Ranch P.O. Box 1386 Nogales, Az 85628
Email: santaferanch@theriver.com,
Telephone: (520) 287-7051 

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