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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 8, 2008

John N. Cyr Sr.

John Cyr, a man who shifted his life according to where he was needed, died on Monday, March 24, 2008.  He was 48.

After moving to Delaware to help his sister following the death of her husband, he was called back to Guilderland, whence he came, to help his family after his brother died. 

One of nine children born to Albert and Elizabeth Cyr, Mr. Cyr grew up as the son of a lumberjack, said his niece, Diana Hart Benjamin.  He went to work young, she said, and spent most of his life on the railroad, a job that he began when he moved to Delaware in 1976.

A couple of years after he returned to Guilderland, he got into a fender bender, said his niece.  It was an accident that brought him his wife.  “By the McDonald’s parking lot, they hit each other,” Ms. Benjamin said.

The couple married in 1986 and had five children together.

Although Mr. Cyr loved his job, he retired early and spent his time nursing animals and hunting, his niece said.

“He survives off of them,” she said of the line he drew between his pets and the animals he hunted.  Mr. Cyr was always going to auctions, she said, and, if he bought a cow to butcher, it wouldn’t get a name.  He would also buy the crippled old horses that nobody else wanted, Ms. Benjamin said.

“This horse, Cherokee, he had, only had one eye,” she said.  “Nobody else wanted him.”  Cherokee bit Mr. Cyr three times, she said, and sent him to the hospital, but he loved her despite it.

Mr. Cyr had a penchant for ornery animals — his niece recalled watching from a window in Delaware as he was charged by a bull.  “He outran the bull,” she said.

He had an understanding with beasts, and a life-long passion for animals, Ms. Benjamin said, as she recalled the horse figurines he would fashion for her out of tin foil or twisty ties.

“He had a big bark,” she said of her uncle, “but he was a big teddy bear.”

Indeed, Mr. Cyr would call his niece every day to check in, as he did with “all the ladies in his life,” including his mother, Ms. Benjamin said.

“He was a good man,” she said, “and he loved his family.”

Mr. Cyr’s family found this prayer fitting: “Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep.  I am in a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow.  I am in the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain.  I am in the morning hush, I am in the graceful rush of beautiful birds in circling flight, I am the star-shine of the night.  I am in the flowers that bloom, I am in a quiet room.  I am in the birds that sing, I am in the fields with the horses, I am in each lovely thing.  Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there.  I do not die.”


Mr. Cyr is survived by his wife, Lynn Cyr, and his children: Michael, Kathryn, John, Patricia, and Courtney, of Sprakers and his parents, Albert and Elizabeth Cyr.  He is also survived by his two godsons, Skippy Sawyer, of Guilderland, and Christopher Benjamin, of Voorheesville and by four brothers: Bernard Cyr of Albany; Harold Cyr of Minnesota; Albert Cyr of Cobleskill; and Thomas Cyr of Schenectady.  His sisters also survive him: Roseanne Potter and her husband, Newt, of Altamont, and Patricia Sawyer and her husband, Clarence, of Guilderland.

Mr. Cyr also had several nieces and nephews, cousins and friends who adored him, and his best friends, Mike Brown, of Guilderland, and Cliff Hart, of Delaware.  He also had a large extended family in Delaware, including Linda Hart, Helen Coburn, Diana Hart, and his uncle, John Cook.

Two of his brothers, Joseph Cyr and Richard Cyr, died before him, as did his brother-in-law, Robert D. Hart.  His aunt, Ruthie Cook, also died before him.

A funeral was held on March 31 at the Lenz & Betz Funeral Home in Canajoharie with the Rev. Dr. R.W. Williams presiding.  Interment will be on May 24, at Sloansville Valley Cemetery.

— Saranac Hale Spencer

Mary L. Johnston

GUILDERLAND — Mary Johnston, whose practical farmer’s soul steered her through life, died on Saturday, May 3, 2008.  She was 99.

Born in Hemingford, Neb., Mrs. Johnston grew up in a sod house, said her daughter-in-law, Marilyn T. Johnston.  When she was 7 years old, just after her family built a frame house on their cattle farm, they moved east, to Guilderland.

“I know they didn’t like the dust out there,” said Marilyn Johnston of the family’s move.  Once here, they kept a dairy and fruit farm on Route 20, she said, and Mrs. Johnston would take the produce to Schenectady with her father to sell.

“She milked the cows before she went to school,” said Marilyn Johnston, “so there was milk on her shoes when she went to school.”

Those were the days when children walked to the train to get to school, she said, so Mrs. Johnston went every day to the tracks to ride in for lessons.  She went on to Albany Business School, where she earned a certificate, said Marilyn Johnston, and worked for years as a bookkeeper at Trading Ports in Albany.

“During the Depression,” her daughter-in-law said, “She had to work.”  Indeed, she kept a job while raising her children, leading a Girl Scout troop, and staying active in the McKownville United Methodist Church.

“No two ways about that,” said Marilyn Johnston, “she was organized and neat.”

Mrs. Johnston was the superintendent of the Sunday school, a leader in the women’s Christian society, and part of the building committee at church.  Later in life, she took part in the Guilderland Seniors group at Town Hall.  Bingo was one of her most highly anticipated activities; it was a game with which she had good luck, her daughter-in-law said.  “She kept her change purse full,” said Marilyn Johnston.

“She practically lived out in her garden,” she went on, adding that her mother-in-law loved roses, and always kept “well-tended beds.”


Mrs. Johnston is survived by her daughter, Shirley L. Iodence, of Las Vegas, Nev.; her daughter-in-law, Marilyn T. Johnston, of Westmere; her sister, Mildred V. Mericle, of Clifton Park; six grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; and several nieces and nephews. 

Her husband, Floyd Johnston, died before her, as did her son, Jerry Johnston; her grandson, Michael B. Johnston; her sisters, Sophia Roehr and Ella Ostrander; and her brother, Charles Pergl.

Her family extends their heartfelt appreciation to the staff of the Eddy-Ford Nursing Home for their dedication to her over the years.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mary’s memory to the Mary L. Johnston fund, care of the McKownville United Methodist Church, 1565 Western Ave., Westmere, NY  12203.

A funeral was held on Wednesday at the McKownville United Methodist Church, followed by interment at Memory’s Garden Cemetery in Colonie, with arrangements by the Fredendall Funeral Home.

— Saranac Hale Spencer

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