Ernest Rau

Ernest Rau

GUILDERLAND — Ernest “Ernie” Rau — who was proud of his children and taught them the value of hard work — died peacefully on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. He was 71.

“Ernie had farming in his blood and loved working with animals and being in nature,” his family wrote in a tribute.

He was born in Niskayuna in 1949, the son of son of the late Everett and Margaret Rau, and lived on Settles Hill until his death.   

As a young adult, he was active in the 4-H Raise and Release pheasant programs and raised beef cows and showed them at the Altamont Fair for years. As a 4-H member, he also raised chickens and grew vegetables to sell at local markets

He graduated in 1967 from Guilderland High School where he was a member of the Westmere Ski Club and the Guilderland High Tennis Club.  He went on to attend the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill and received an associate of applied science degree in animal husbandry and agricultural engineering.

He worked his way through college cutting meat as a butcher at Greulich’s Market. After graduating from college, he became a part-time New York State Park Police stationed at Thacher Park. He worked for Bebout Ford Inc. in Latham, selling heavy construction equipment, and was also a mason for Van Patten Builders in Clifton Park.

He then started his own mason business with partner Dan Stewart. He went on to be the sole proprietor of Fai-Ho Construction Co., building residential houses in the Settles Hill area. “Ernie had many wonderful years working with his son Derik alongside him, teaching him the business,” his family wrote. “Derik has now taken over the construction/farm and rental business. 

“Ernie was always working at something and instilled good work ethics in all of his children whom he was so very proud of. He was a wonderful and caring husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather and always ready to lend a hand when needed.

“He had nicknames for just about everyone, some quite humorous. He loved yellow labs and raised them for years on the farm. He loved having a big garden every year and producing grass-fed beef.

“He married his wife, Joyce, in 1977 and raised her three children like his own. They together had two additional children and had so many wonderful times together on the farm.

“He was a member of the Rotterdam Elks 2157 for 12 years.

“Since 2010, Ernie and Joyce loved spending three months every winter at their beach house in Fort Myers Beach where they had many wonderful friends. He loved boating there and also spent many years boating on Lake George where he built a beautiful camp.”


Ernest Rau is survived by his wife, Joyce; by his son David M. Heron and his wife, Cindy, of Smithfield, Virginia; by his daughter Kelly J. Spiak and her husband, Michael, of Greenfield Center, New York; by his daughter Erika Rau Lawson and her husband, Kenneth, of Altamont; and by his son Derik E. Rau and his wife, Jessica, of Altamont.

His daughter Laura died before him.

He is also survived by his grandchildren, Sean, Shayna, Kyra, Jessica, Samantha, Amelia, Elizabeth, Nora, Tommy, Joey, and Danny; by his great-grandson, Connor; by his siblings Kenneth Rau and his wife, Patricia, James Rau and his wife, Patricia, and MaryJane Pelzer; and by several nieces and nephews. 

A celebration of his life will be scheduled  at a future date.

Memorial messages may be left at


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