Harry Jackson “Jack” L’Hommedieu
ALTAMONT — Harry Jackson L’Hommedieu, an aviator and an architect, died on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. He was 86.
Growing up in central New York, he “roamed those hills and valleys,” where it wasn’t uncommon for a neighbor to say, “Yoo-hoo — help me flip this mattress,” or shovel snow, or rake leaves, said his wife, Norma L’Hommedieu.
“He never stayed still if there was something to do,” she said.
Mr. L’Hommedieu was born on May 29, 1927 to George and Mildred L’Hommedieu in South Otselic, N.Y. As a teenager, he worked for the family’s bottled-gas business, because “that’s what boys did back then,” his wife said.
After graduating from South Otselic High School, Mr. L’Hommedieu served in the Fourth Armored Division of the United States Army during World War II in Germany.
He kept guard at a prison there, said his wife, and befriended two German prisoners. They were allowed to go home to their families for part of the day and come back to the prison to work, she said. To one of them, Mr. L’Hommedieu would give extra blankets so the man’s wife could make clothes for their children, and the other was a cobbler, who made a pair of shoes for him. They were the best fitting pair of shoes he ever had.
Mr. L’Hommedieu began training to be a pilot in a government-sponsored program at the University of Delaware, but it was cancelled, his wife said. Before he joined the service, he had been an aircraft spotter and knew every plane by the sound of its engine, she said. He made hundreds of model planes.
Later, after landing in Albany when he had finished a landscape architecture program on the G.I. Bill at the College of Forestry at Syracuse University in 1952, he took flying lessons in New Salem and flew solo over the Helderbergs.
While the family was living in a small Guilderland apartment, Mr. L’Hommedieu found seven acres of old apple orchard in Altamont. He chopped down every single tree himself and drew up the plans for a Cape Cod house.
“Harry’s greatest joy aside from his family was spending time outdoors and creating a woodland oasis on the family’s Altamont property, where he has lived for almost 50 years,” his family wrote in a tribute. Most of his career was in Albany as a landscape architect for New York State.
He also liked bowling and golf and he was a member of the American Legion, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Alumni Association, the Noah Masonic Lodge #755 in Altamont, the Valley of Schenectady Scottish Rites, and the Order of the Eastern Star.
“I couldn’t find a nicer man to marry,” Mrs. L’Hommedieu said.
Her husband was “very honest and he couldn’t put up with people who weren’t,” she said. “He expected everybody to be as honest as he was.”
Harry Jackson “Jack” L’Hommedieu is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Norma (née Follett) L’Hommedieu; his daughters, Jacqueline McClune of Albany and Janet Pease and her husband, Edward, of Fayetteville, N.Y.; his grandsons, Evan Pease of Tustin, Calif., and Sean Pease, of Rochester; his sister, Dorothy Hall, and her husband, Robert, and his brother, Richard L’Hommedieu, and his wife, Elaine; and several nieces and nephews.
His siblings Jeanne Crawford and John Leonard L’Hommedieu died before him.
The family expresses its sincere gratitude to the dedicated staff and volunteers of the Community Hospice of Albany County and the Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital for the kind and compassionate care he and his family received in his final days.
A graveside service will be held at Valley View Cemetery in South Otselic, N.Y., at the convenience of the family. Arrangements are by New Comer Cannon Funeral Home in Colonie. To leave a message online for the family, visit www.NewcomerAlbany.com.
— Saranac Hale Spencer