Cover photo for Sean P Hargraves's Obituary
Sean P Hargraves Profile Photo
1954 Sean 2024

Sean P Hargraves

January 28, 1954 — April 3, 2024

New Bedford

Sean P. Hargraves (January 28, 1954-April 3, 2024) began his life the same way he lived every single one of his 70 years - as someone who loved life and the people he encountered along the way. A sweet, curious boy who loved his friends and was a stellar athlete, Sean never met a person he wasn’t interested in talking to. Sadly, Sean passed away this week after a long illness.

He is survived by the love of his life, his partner of almost 40 years, Regina Ptaszenski, son Steven, daughter-in-law Erin, grandchildren Madisyn, Andrew, Ryan and Leah, sister Patricia Hargraves Bettger, niece Jill and her husband Michael, nephew Adam and his wife Tara, as well as many extended family members and friends. He was predeceased by his father William Hargraves, his mother Bridget Ledwell Hargraves, his brother Michael Hargraves and his son William Bozarth.

A lifelong New Bedford resident and a proud alumni of 1971 Bishop Stang High School, Sean went on to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1978.

He began working at Dennison Memorial Community Center in 1982, which is where he found his life’s calling. One of the oldest non-profit agencies in the New Bedford area, Dennison has been helping South End families since 1868. 

As Executive Director at Dennison, Sean spent 42 years helping kids, mentoring generations of South End children. Not only did he bring a new vitality to the organization, he spearheaded the development of new programs, new fundraising initiatives and grant proposals. A new basketball court followed as a result, as well as a new 12,000-square foot facility. 

When the organization hit hard times, Sean made radio appearances, doubled his efforts on grant applications and donor outreach and even hosted Governor Baker on a tour of Dennison in 2021. Sean was happiest in shorts and a t-shirt, (preferably one with a Boston team on it or a Dennison logo!) but he would put on a suit and tie if it was for the kids.

But that’s only part of the story of Sean’s life at Dennison. The secret to his success wasn’t just that he was wonderful at writing grants and working with donors and government officials - it was that he was always a big kid at heart, and the Dennison kids knew it. 

From Nerf gun fights to basketball games to chaperoning hundreds of summer field trips to Myles Standish State Forest - and every other spot - to serving as the master of ceremonies behind the annual Dennison holiday party, Sean loved every minute of his life at Dennison. The hashtag #DennisonKidforLife has been posted on Sean’s Facebook page dozens of times in tribute to his love and dedication to generations of South End kids. 

Work provided something even more wonderful for him in 1986 when he met Regina (Gina) Ptaszenski, mom to two boys named Billy and Steve. When Gina asked to chaperone a Dennison field trip, Sean was thrilled. It took him months to ask her out, but he liked her immediately. The rest is history, as they say, and they never looked back.

It wasn’t only his family and the Dennison community who thought he was remarkable. In 2005, he was named The Standard-Times New Bedford Man of the Year. Additionally, in 2018 he was inducted into the Bishop Stang High School Hall of Fame. He was honored with the Pope Francis Service Award, as a “living example of the Gospel” for his service of under-served youth at Dennison. Bishop Stang gave him this award because they believed he was an example of commitment to serving others, and “making known the goodness of God” through his actions.

Sean was intellectually curious and it showed through his voracious reading, his in-depth knowledge of history and politics, and his genuine interest in everyone he met throughout his day. There wasn’t a person who could beat him at a game that involved sports (Go Sox!), politics, history or geography, or a person he met whom he didn’t talk with in detail about where they were from and what their story was. 

In addition to people, animals benefited from his kindness. Not only was he a devoted father to his dog Ruby (who was a daily visitor to Dennison), he loved feeding the birds every day in his elaborate bird feeders and even adopted the local turkeys in his neighborhood. The turkeys knew Sean’s car and would follow him as he pulled into his driveway. They knew he would soon be out to give them some of the special bird seed he kept on hand to feed them. 

If you upset him, you knew it. I mean, the man took it personally when Tom Brady left the Patriots and he never got over it! 

But wow, if he loved you, you knew that too. And he loved so many people so much. We were all better for having Sean’s love and kindness in our lives. 

The family would like to thank his caregivers, particularly Amy Dumas of SouthCoast VNA and Al Costa with SouthCoast Hospice.

A life celebration at Dennison Memorial Community Center for Sean will be held Saturday, May 4th at 5pm.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider making a donation to the organization that meant so much to Sean and has done so much good for the community in which he lived and worked, Dennison Memorial Community Center.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sean P Hargraves, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Starts at 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

Dennison Memorial Community Center

755 S 1st St, New Bedford, MA 02744

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