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DiRosario jailed four days before Colonial Beach mayoral election

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Remembering Jeff Malecha

Back in the spring of 2005 when I interviewed Jeff and Julie Malecha for an article that ran in the Getaway Magazine, I recognized the determination in Jeff Malecha’s eyes as he spoke of his vision for the old Esso Gas Station.

The newly opened Espresso Station was just the beginning of his dream. He was employed by the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and had plans of retiring in about five years. He was still working there at the time of his death. But he was getting ever closer to that day when he would reap all that he had sown

 

A bouquet of flowers and a police cone stand where
Jeff Malecha fell after being thrown in an accidental blast
that resulted in his death.
Photo by Linda Farneth

 

Malecha was one multi-talented man. He built his home on Monroe Bay Avenue from a floor plan ordered form Southern Living Magazine. Not bad for a guy who had never built a house before. He then proceeded to remodel the old Espresso Station, while working full-time in D.C. The man just never stopped moving. You could drive by there any time of day and he was doing some kind of cleaning, changing, rearranging -- always something to make his shop better.

His plan was to eventually make over the rest of the Esso building and lease space to other businesses. This would provide additional income along with the Espresso Station earnings. 

Visible from the front and off to the right is the WideRiver Gallery which is just a beautifully done art gallery owned by Connie Canby, local artist and resident.

“I am just devastated by the news of Jeff’s death," Canby said. "Jeff was dedicated to his family and community and had a passion for his business. He was the most industrious man I has ever met, firm but fair in the handling of his business.”

So now we have a coffee house, an art gallery, and just a few months ago the last space was leased to Sisi Stewart owner of Lala’s Salon

“I feel honored to be the final piece in Jeff’s complex, he worked well over a year getting the space ready for my business," she said. "Hand-painting the brick walls to get the perfect color, helping me in every aspect in getting the look I wanted. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity of working with Jeff.”

Almost everyone in town has stopped in the coffee house and had a great cup of coffee; my favorite sweet thing they offer is the granny smith coffee cake. I stopped by Saturday for two to go, and took pictures of the excavation going on. Jeff was around outside working as usual. He was on a mission to get his new brick patio done before Memorial Day.

Sharon Dunavant, president of the local Bank of Lancaster, and husband Elvin, are very close to Julie and Jeff.

"The coffee shop is the heart of Colonial Beach, both Julie and Jeff have given so much back to this community," Dunavant said. "When I first came here I didn’t have an office, the coffee house was the perfect place to meet with clients and it has become the place for the community to gather and discuss what is happening."

Everyone at the Beach knows if you're looking for Father Ron Okrasinski -- and he's not at St. Mary's Episcopal Church -- nine times out of 10 you will find him with a cup of coffee at what he too considers his second office.

That Getaway article back in early 2005 was titled “Build It and They Will Come." Jeff Malecha was a determined, passion-filled man with a vision of what he wanted, and he got it done. He will be sorely missed.

There will be a vigil tonight at 7:15 in the grassy area behind St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

-- Carol Barber

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