John W. Logan
The Guest Book is expired.
New Paltz - Obituary for John W. LoganWritten by John W. Logan, age 85, of New Paltz, who died Monday, March 18, 2013 at home.
"I was born in Poughkeepsie New York on Thanksgiving Day - November 24, 1927.
My parents were Ed and Catherine (Kit) Logan (nee Catherine Cumming). I had only one sibling - my brother Tom, sixteen months older than me.
I was raised by my paternal grandparents, my unmarried and slightly built aunt Rita, and my bachelor uncle Walter in a house on the Kinkead estate - a remarkable place of thirty or so acres in the City of Poughkeepsie. My grandfather, Tom Logan, a bantam rooster of a man, was the head gardener on the estate. My mother and father were loving parents - when they were present. Mom lived, most of the time, in a dormitory at the Hudson River State Hospital where she worked as a nurse in that institution. My father was present sporadically - he would be with us for a few days and gone for a few days. My father worked variously as a newspaper reporter, radio announcer, newspaper publisher, mailman, milkman (complete with horse drawn wagon), chef, farmer and, in his last years, owner of Logan's Antiquarian Books. Growing up, I thought this was normal. I had two men I called Dad - my grandfather who was a constant presence and my father who was present only on his own quixotic schedule. I enjoyed a very happy carefree childhood.
From the time I was a toddler I roamed freely all over the Kinkead estate consorting with cows and horses and ducks and chickens and dogs and cats and pet rabbits and whatever wildlife caught my attention. I had free access to the orchards, gardens, greenhouses, barns, sheds, coops, tall wooden water tank and an even taller windmill that pumped the water. I picked whatever I wanted to bring to my grandma - flowers for a vase, fruits and vegetables for the table and canning. Everything in its season and a season for everything - the cycles of nature were natural to me.
Krieger Elementary School was opened about 1930 - it was innovative. It had a half day kindergarten which I entered in 1933. I spent eight happy years learning and growing under the guidance of great teachers in that school. There was one dark cloud always hovering over me at Krieger - my brother Tom was two years ahead of me and an honor student. "Why can't you be more like your brother?" was a frequent plaint from my teachers in response to my careless ways.
Four years of undistinguished servitude at Poughkeepsie High School dragged by. I, like most of my classmates, couldn't wait to join the War. In June 1945 I joined the Merchant Marine after being rejected by the U.S. Navy. My first trip to sea was as a fireman/watertender on the SS Cape Comfort - a short five week trip to Venezuela and back to New York. I shipped out of the Seafarer's International Union hiring hall in Brooklyn. The SIU was a very activist union, strongly supportive of its members and working people in general. We worked for and were paid by the steamship companies, but our loyalty was to the union. Hundreds of us wearing our signature white golf caps helped fill Madison Square Garden for Harry Truman in 1948; marched on Wall Street in support of financial workers; manned picket lines for the ILGWU and fought off, along with the ILA, the waterfront labor racketeers.
In 1947 I upgraded to ship's electrician and shipped all over the world in that capacity until drafted into the US Army in 1954. I loved South Africa and made a number of trips there. Two years in the Army passed uneventfully guarding the gold at Fort Knox and, at my father's urging, I used my GI Bill benefits to attend and graduate from SUNY New Paltz.
I met the love of my life, Gail Park, while at New Paltz. We were married in New Paltz after my graduation in 1959 - Gail had graduated in 1958 and was teaching in Schenectady. I followed her there and taught fifth grade for one year. After a magical summer studying maritime history at Mystic Seaport, and living on whatever fish Gail caught in the Sound, we moved back to New Paltz and I taught in a junior high school in Poughkeepsie for the next five years.
Matthew, our eldest son, was born shortly before Christmas, 1960, a few days early probably due to Gail's exertions singing the Hallelujah chorus with the college choir. Jeffrey, our second son, was born four years later at the height of a violent, spring thunder and lightning storm. I fail to see any connection between the events surrounding their births and their adult personalities.
During those years I developed an abiding interest in politics (I had learned at my grandfather's knee at an early age to be a liberal Democrat) and ran, unsuccessfully, for local office several times. In 1964 I became involved in the Congressional campaign of Joe Resnick. When he won election I took leave from teaching and took on operation of the district offices in Kingston and Poughkeepsie. We won re-election in a tight race against the liberal Republican Hamilton Fish in 1966. In 1968 Joe entered the Democratic primary for US Senate - a political and personal disaster for both Joe and I. On the bright side, I quit smoking on January 1st, 1968 - and started really enjoying the taste of good food again.
I returned to teaching for one unhappy year in the Ellenville Schools, tried unsuccessfully to sell real estate, substitute taught in several districts throughout the area, and got to spend a lot of time with our boys while Gail kept bread on the table as librarian in the New Paltz and Newburgh Schools. My last teaching assignments were in Night School at Newburgh Free Academy - I really enjoyed working with the non-academic kids; helping them get the high school certificate they so desperately needed.
Gail and I retired in 1997 and have spent the last few years gardening, cooking, reading, traveling (not nearly as much as we had planned) and enjoying watching our three grandchildren Kelsey, Maris and Hunter by Jeff and his lovely wife Theresa, grow into young adults.
I die with some regrets - the times I could have been strong and was weak; I could have been truthful and lied. But, I die with no fears and a well founded belief in a bright and happy future for my boys and their families. I die knowing that there is no afterlife - no heaven nor hell- just the life we have lived here on earth. I die knowing there is no fearsome and benevolent god; only nature through its own indifferent laws to create and destroy us and our universe as the due course of events."
[As his family, we respect and have left wholly unedited this obituary penned by our husband, father and grandfather. We would like, however, to add proudly to this humble accounting that over his long life in New Paltz the writer was a Village Trustee, Commissioner of Police, Superintendent of Public Works, Democratic Committee Member and general political activist from the 1970's proposal to close lower Main Street as a walking mall (pro) to the current proposal to consolidate the Village and Town of New Paltz (anti). His is a voice of thoughtful reason that will be missed in this community.]
A memorial gathering will take place Friday March 29th, 2013 from 5-7pm at Copeland Funeral Home, Inc., 162 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY.
Cremation has taken place in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, Poughkeepsie.
Memorial donation may be made to: Family of New Paltz, 51 North Chestnut Street, New Paltz, NY 12561, and /or Hospice Foundation, Inc., Memorial Gift Program, 34 Broadway, Kingston, NY 12401
Published in the Poughkeepsie Journal on Mar. 24, 2013