Reginald Lee Sapp, 71

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 5:48 PM EST
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It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Reginald Lee Sapp, 71, on December...
It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Reginald Lee Sapp, 71, on December 5, 2021 after a long battle with heart failure(Funeral Home)

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Reginald Lee Sapp, 71, on December 5, 2021 after a long battle with heart failure. Calling hours will be held on Thursday, December 9 from 2:00 to 4:00 and 6:00 to 8:00 at the O’Leary Funeral Home. A private burial will be held on Friday.

Reggie was “one of the good ones” – a kind and generous spirited man with a huge heart, a wonderful sense of fun and a full-throated booming laugh. He was a calm, loving force for good everywhere he went and more importantly, was determined to pay it forward.

Reggie’s life was shaped by his strong spiritual belief in the human connection that transcended race or any other separating factors and that belief defined his actions and shaped his journey.

Reg was born on March 4, 1950 to Mozelle and Stafford Sapp in McIntosh Florida. From early childhood, he always faced his challenges. He was one of a handful of black students chosen to integrate Buholtz Junior High, escorted to school by Alachua Sheriff Deputies, greeted by yells and jeers, pelted by bananas and pennies. He continued to high school where he wanted to join the band but was told he was “too dark” and “they couldn’t protect me.” Eventually, he quit school but still realized that education was his most important weapon and the key to moving forward. He received his GED after attending an Upward Bound program at Indiana State (thanks to his mentor LudiJohnson, his “Mama 2″) and went on to attend Brandeis University on a full scholarship as the first Martin Luther King Scholar. He graduated Brandeis in 1973, received his MA in 2005 and continued to work on his Doctorate.

After he received his BA, Reg was recruited by Fred Hamlett to join Hillside Half-Way House, a juvenile detention center in Boston. Together, they helped expand their program based on the Community Treatment Movement that shifted the policies dealing with juvenile offenders from institutionalization to community-based centers. From there, Reg worked for the federal government Action Program (Peace Corps, Vista) handling the Connecticut area.

Reg became a McDonald’s owner-operator in 1986, with stores in Rhode Island and Connecticut. After 12 years, he left that business and returned to Hillside where he continued to expand its programs, including starting an alternative school. Upon retirement, he moved to Canton where he could indulge his love of community, farming and horses… And indulge he did: joining the Cornell Cooperative Extension Board, The Ag Protection Board, becoming president of the Potsdam Farmers’ Market, starting his own Red Wagon Farm (raising and selling veggies), and until his health prevented it had an amazing relationship with Honey Dew Acres’ horse, Baby Star – even competing in some competitions!

All through his life Reg looked for ways in which he could support and mentor those around him, especially kids. His early connection with Reevaluation Counseling at Brandeis had given him many tools that were effective in reaching those who were struggling. And his heart and spiritual foundation gave him the ways to help them move forward. His wisdom was a guiding light for so many and his hope was that they always would continue to pay that forward.

But more than that, Reggie loved life, loved his family, loved his friends, loved his dogs, loved learning and trying new things and loved living in Canton. His house was always open and his kitchen in operation. His pride and joy was his cookhouse with its many grills

and cook tops. Many have tasted his yummy ribs. In his final days, getting weaker, he was so proud of being able to cook food for a friend’s Thanksgiving dinner. He loved hearing that people enjoyed his food! And enjoy we did!!!

So much to be missed…

Reggie is survived by his wife of 25 years, Sigie Barr-Sapp, as well as his first wife, Anne Sapp and their son, Alem and grandson Michael, and his second wife, Marian Miele, his siblings: Karen Sapp, Cheryl Gordon, Fred Sapp, numerous nieces and nephews and extended family members including his adopted Barr family. He is predeceased by his loving mother, Mozelle Sapp and his beloved brother Ronnie.

Donations in his name to any place that loves and supports people would be welcomed.

Memories and condolences may be shared online at

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