Wyman “Cookie” Osterhout
WARNER LAKE — Wyman “Cookie” Osterhout was a guy’s guy — captain of his high school football team, a Marine during the Korean War, and a successful race-car driver — who treated his daughters as equals and put his family first.
“We are the luckiest girls in the world to grow up with a dad like ours,” said Cheryl Dube, speaking for herself and her three sisters — Wendy, Heidi, and Tammy.
In his later years, Mr. Osterhout divided his time between Warner Lake in the Helderbergs and Pinellas Park in Florida. He died on Sunday, June 8, 2014. He was 84.
He was born in Albany in 1930, the son of Wyman V. and Eunice Pollard Osterhout; he grew up in New Salem. Nicknamed “Cookie,” he was captain of the six-man football team at Voorheesville’s high school; he was No. 95.
After high school, Mr. Osterhout served his country as a Marine in the Korean War. His daughters said he didn’t talk about the war.
His family ran Osterhout’s Restaurant, a popular venue in the Big Band era. The extended family — including Wyman V. Osterhout, Cookie’s father — lived upstairs over the dance hall and restaurant.
Mr. Osterhout was working at Osterhout’s bar the night he met Nancy Pitts, the woman who would become his wife. “My mom came in on a date,” said Wendy Osterhout. “He met her and was enamored...Pretty much, it was love at first sight.”
Their union lasted nearly 60 years, ending only with his death.
“He was devoted to our mom and showed a lot of love,” said Heidi Moak. “He always put family first.”
“My Dad was a guy’s guy,” she went on. “It was no secret he wanted a son but he had five girls.” One of the Osterhouts’ daughters died very young.
Mr. Osterhout posted a sign in his yard that said, “C. Osterhout and Girls.”
“He embraced the fact that he was the guy and we were his girls,” said Ms. Moak. “He treated us equally. He taught us how to drive.”
Mr. Osterhout had a passion for auto racing. He was a driver with the United Racing Club and raced midgets and sprint cars at tracks up and down the East Coast.
His family was there to cheer him on. In 1958, he was named the Rookie of the Year by URC, said Heidi Moak.
“Every year, we went to the Daytona 500,” said Wendy Osterhout.
He had racing fans, Heidi Moak said, adding, “He had a lot of friends; everybody liked him.”
He also taught each of his four daughters to ride a motorcycle.
“I crashed the bike and had to tell him I broke the taillight,” said Tammy Owen. “He pasted the taillight onto a piece of wood and made a trophy out of it...to make me feel better.
“That was my rite of passage,” she said, adding, “He took everything in stride.”
Mr. Osterhout rode his Harley Davidson motorcycle until the age of 83.
“He truly didn’t seem to age,” said Heidi Osterhout. “You didn’t know you were talking to an 80-year-old man.”
Mr. Osterhout worked a lot of nights, his daughters said, but always made his family a priority. After returning from military service, he was employed as an ironworker and then he was the owner of The Checkered Flag restaurant and bar in New Scotland, on Route 85. After moving to Florida in 1977, he worked for Case Power and Equipment and then owned a small business in Daytona Beach with his wife.
“He was always concerned with how we were doing,” said Wendy Osterhout.
Cheryl Dube recalled how her father came to watch, without fail, when she or Heidi competed at sports. She remembered once playing field hockey in a downpour, when he was the lone spectator. “I have a vision of him on the sidelines, in the pouring rain,” she said. “He was always there for us.”
“We wouldn’t want anyone else for a father,” said Heidi Moak. “He was loving and caring and was always concerned how we were doing or how our friends were doing.”
She went on, “We lived on the hill in New Salem, without a lot of neighbors. We had cats and dogs and horses.” There was a German shepherd named Ace and a donkey named Honey.
“All of our friends loved coming to our house,” said Wendy Osterhout.
He embraced his growing family when his daughters married. “Our husbands, they said he was one of the boys,” reported Heidi Moak.
“We were very blessed to have him as a father,” said Tammy Owen. “We all have fond memories.”
“Family was his priority and Cookie’s greatest joy was when everyone was gathered together,” his family wrote in a tribute. “He was truly loved and will be greatly missed.”
The Osterhout family has a tradition of gathering for dinners.
“Just last week,” said Heidi Osterhout, “at a family dinner on Sunday night — it’s always very loud with 15 or 18 of us at the table — I sat next to him. He turned to my mom and said, ‘Look, Nancy, all this is because of us.’”
Wyman “Cookie” Osterhout is survived by his wife, Nancy Pitts Osterhout; his children, Wendy Osterhout and her husband, Robert Clifford, Heidi Moak and her husband, Michael, Cheryl Dube and her fiancé, Rick Flaherty, and Tammy Owen and her husband, Mark; his sister, Marilyn Reynolds; his cousins, Willard and John Osterhout, who were like brothers to him; and his grandchildren, Kelsey and Lauren Moak, Sarah and Daniel Owen, Tess and Jake Dube, and Leah Clifford.
His parents, Wyman V. and Eunice Pollard Osterhout, died before him, as did his brother, Walter Osterhout.
Calling hours will be today, June 12, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Reilly & Son Funeral Home at 9 Voorheesville Ave. in Voorheesville. Relatives and friends are also invited to a time for sharing memories at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 13, at the Wyman Osterhout Community Center, named for Cookie Osterhout’s father, at 7 The Old Rd. in New Salem, and the interment that will follow at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in New Salem.
Memorial contributions may be made to the East Berne Rescue Squad, Post Office Box 13, East Berne, NY 12059 or to the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, 3 Oakland Ave., Menands, NY 12204.
— Melissa Hale-Spencer