By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND — The $3 million estate of Joseph Calabro — well known in town as the owner of two gas stations — was not settled for more than two years after his death. The case worked its way through probate before being settled in mid-October of this year.
The majority of the estate, including much land, went to Calabro’s son, Derick Dalrymple, who was born out-of-wedlock in 1967, as a result of an affair between Calabro and his bookkeeper, Dolores Dalrymple.
The estate included two gas stations — Joe’s Service Station, on Western Avenue, and Ma’s Service Station, at the intersection of routes 20 and 58 — both of which closed after Calabro died.
Dalrymple said it was important for him to settle the case so he could get both stations up and running again.
“I could have gone to trial and I would have prevailed, but I would have lost Ma’s and Joe’s if I didn’t get them open and get gas pumping again,” Dalrymple said last week. He opened Joe’s
for business in mid-November, and plans to open Ma’s sometime this month.
The news that Dalrymple was Calabro’s biological son did not surface publicly until after Calabro’s death in 2009. Dalrymple petitioned for the estate, which had automatically gone to Calabro’s sister, Laura Reggio, in the absence of a will.
Reggio vehemently denied that her brother had a son, but, a DNA test proved Calabro’s paternity.
Mrs. Dalrymple, who died in 2006, had, in 1964, moved into a house owned by Calabro. The house was next to the service station where Calabro lived, in a second-floor apartment. In 1967, Mrs. Dalrymple gave birth to Derick, and raised him, with her husband, alongside their five other children.
Derick Dalrymple entered the results of his DNA test into the court record, but the state law governing inheritance by out-of-wedlock children was not amended until 2010 to allow for DNA testing to establish paternity. The amended law applies only to cases beginning after it was implemented, and, at the time Dalrymple entered the test results, it was unclear whether it was too late for them to impact his case.
Reggio did ultimately agree to settle the case out of court. The official decision, stamped Oct. 24, 2012, reads, “In this respect, the parties are motivated by their desire to avoid the expense and uncertainties of litigation.”
Reggio agreed to withdraw as administrator of the estate, and Dalrymple agreed to concede $325,000 and one property, located in Coeymans Hollow, to Reggio; her sister, Mary Roberts; and the beneficiaries of another sibling, the late Santo Calabro.
“I don’t want to itemize what they got, but it’s very little,” said Dalrymple.
He said he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. Although Dalrymple didn’t know until 1993, when he was in his mid-20s, that Calabro was his father, he said that Calabro had always been a mentor to him and they had a close relationship.
Dalrymple, he said, grew up working in Calabro’s service stations and was promised that he’d always have a job there; Calabro bought Dalrymple bikes when his family couldn’t afford them; Calabro helped Dalrymple when he was imprisoned for 18 months in 1985; and Calabro taught Dalrymple about gardening.
“He taught me how to think and stay positive,” said Dalrymple.
If he had decided to take the case to trial, Dalrymple said, he would have had plenty of people lined up to testify that Calabro had opened up to them about being his father.
Included in his supporters are his five half-siblings, though his sister, Dawn Munroe, was quick to point out that Dalrymple has never been considered “half” of anything in their family.
“Derick has always been our brother,” said Munroe. “We’ve always been very supportive and we always will be.”
The six siblings, she said, were all a product of their mother’s “love and upbringing.”
“She created six wonderful kids who truly love, respect, and support each other,” Munroe said.
The family recently remodeled the house Calabro owned, that they had grown up in, and Dalrymple said it was a bonding experience to relive the memories they had created there.
Mrs. Dalrymple’s children would never resent her for her affair with Calabro because it resulted in Derick, “thank goodness,” Munroe said.
“Justice prevailed, and he got what he deserved,” she said. “He knows all the ins and outs of the stations.”
Now, Dalrymple just hopes he can keep the spirit of his father alive through his service stations.
“Joe always said he wasn’t going to make it easy on me,” Dalrymple concluded. “But this is what he would have wanted.”