KNOX — On the Sundays that Robert Saddlemire designated for family, they would “just get in the car and go.”
“Everybody’s got to have a destination and we didn’t,” said his wife, Maryann Saddlemire, of family picnics with their son, Kenneth. “We just went for a ride.”
Robert Saddlemire died on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, at Albany Medical Center after suffering a severe fall at home.
Born at home on Oct. 30, 1931, to Elwood and Helen Bassler Saddlemire, Mr. Saddlemire spent his whole life in Knox, and attended the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School.
Mrs. Saddlemire described her husband as a simple, shy man who, like most farmers, worked long days from a very young age.
At just 2 years old, he had the tip of his finger taken off when he stuck it in a compressor in his father’s barn.
“It was different back when he was young. They worked, the farm boys worked. They didn’t have computers and iPods,” Mrs. Saddlemire said.
Mr. Saddlemire was raised in the hamlet of Knox on his father’s dairy farm, which had around 25 cows. After his father died in 1973, they expanded their operation by moving the cows to a bigger barn on Becker Road.
“He loved to be out on the tractor; he loved to do field work — that was his thing,” said Mrs. Saddlemire, who worked on the farm alongside her husband. “He liked to do plowing and putting in hay.”
Saddlemire Farms is now run by Kenneth, who has 50 milking cows. The farm has been in Knox through four generations.
Mrs. Saddlemire said her husband, “the strong, silent type,” loved their son dearly, but did not often show it. When Kenneth decided to stay and work on the farm, she said it was “icing on the cake.”
“Now it’s in my son’s blood, that they’re farmers. And, if it’s not, you’re not going to make it,” said Mrs. Saddlemire.
Even when not busy with farm chores, Mr. Saddlemire enjoyed working outdoors. He was a deer hunter and rode snowmobiles. He helped gather sap, “in buckets with snowshoes,” at the Sugarview Maple Farm on Route 146.
On those Sundays with his family, Mr. Saddlemire would take them in his red and white boat on Sacandaga Lake, where they would picnic near a campfire on the shore.
Hot dogs would be roasted on an open fire, said Mrs. Saddlemire; it was the only way he would have them prepared.
“He said they only have flavor when you cook them over a flame outside,” said Mrs. Saddlemire.
His boat as well as his beloved 1955 Pontiac was red and white.
“Red — that was his color,” Mrs. Saddlemire said. “All of his cars but two were red.”
During the few later years, after Mr. Saddlemire retired in 2005, the couple visited Amish country in Lancaster, Pa., with another farm couple.
After a lifetime of working on the dairy farm with no vacations, Mr. Saddlemire took pleasure in watching the Amish farm in less mechanized ways, the ways he grew up with.
“You know, because they did things with horses that he remembered being a kid, he just enjoyed that,” said Mrs. Saddlemire. “Him and our other friend would ride around in the back country and watch the farmers with their horses.”
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Maryann (Fairman) Saddlemire; his beloved son, Kenneth Saddlemire, and his wife, Margery; his grandson, Daniel Saddlemire, and his fiancée, Katrina Thompson, of Rochester; and his granddaughter, Jacqueline Saddlemire, of Knox; his sister, Doris Lott, of Gallupville; and two nephews, Michael Lott of Gallupville and Larry Lott of Palmyra.
His two sisters, Marjorie Kane and Beatrice Rukat, died before him, as did his niece, Gloria Kane.
Calling hours will be on Friday, Jan. 4, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fredendall Funeral Home, 199 Main St., Altamont, with the funeral service at 1 p.m. Interment will be in the spring at Knox Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Knox Fire Company, Knox Ladies Auxiliary, or the Helderberg Ambulance Association.
— Marcello Iaia