James W. Roemer Sr.

James W. Roemer Sr.

EAST BERNE — James W. Roemer Sr. was a charismatic man who could fix anything. He died on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at his home near Warner’s Lake where he had lived for over four decades. He was 96.

“He was a very industrious person,” said his daughter, Jill Roemer. “He would help anybody.”

His three children all said that Mr. Roemer was well-liked and well-respected, and also loved by his family and friends.

“My dad did not have an enemy in the world,” said his son, James Roemer, who also said his dad honed his skills as a great listener and compassionate person while working at an auto shop for 45 years.

Mr. Roemer was born on Nov. 23, 1922, in Albany, to the late William and Florence (née Layman) Roemer. Growing up in downtown Albany, Mr. Roemer showed his entrepreneurial spirit at an early age when he started following horses in the city with his red wagon and collecting their manure to sell to gardeners, said his daughter.

He left high school to support his family before enlisting in the United States Army during World War II and serving in Europe as a staff sergeant.

His children said that Mr. Roemer was tasked with repairing vehicles while in the Army, including Jeeps, tanks, and “anything with an engine because this is what he was good at,” said his daughter.

“His job was to keep Patton’s Jeeps running,” said his son, James Roemer.

Mr. Roemer had learned about mechanics from his father, who ran Roemer and Zeller Auto Supply in Albany. When he returned home from the war, he took a job there, and eventually worked his way up to be the co-owner and vice president.

“He loved it,” said his daughter. “It was his life and his passion.”

“He was a man of many talents,” said his son, Guy Roemer, adding that he was fortunate to work alongside his father while attending college.

Mr. Roemer became known as the “automotive electric guru,” said his son, James Roemer. He was also recognized for his work on small engines, he said, recalling someone saying his father could repair a lawn mower blindfolded.

Mr. Roemer used to travel from Albany to a dance hall near Warner’s Lake in East Berne. In 1940, a friend introduced him to Ruth Geier. They were married for 75 years, the marriage ending only with Mr. Roemer’s death.

Although both were from Albany, the Roemers would travel to East Berne in the summer to stay at a house on the lake that had been in Mrs. Roemer’s family for over 80 years. In the 1970s, they winterized the home, and moved to Berne permanently.

“He met her there, and he died there,” said his daughter.

His children described Mr. Roemer as a fair and strong father who provided for his family.

“He was a great provider,” said Guy Roemer. “There were times when life was a little rough around the house, but he never showed it.”

His son James Roemer also credits his own technical knowledge to his father, who taught him how to make home repairs including plumbing, woodworking, and how to rewire a house.

When Mr. Roemer’s oldest son joined the Boy Scouts, he volunteered as an assistant scoutmaster and later was treasurer for the troop. He helped the troop for 25 years — long after both his sons left the Boy Scouts.

While living in Berne, Mr. Roemer volunteered for Meals on Wheels and served on the town’s zoning board. He also served as deacon in the McKownville Methodist Church before moving to Berne and serving on committees at the First Reformed Church of Berne.

His daughter said that he loved to sail on his green-and-white striped Sunfish. Every summer, he took the sailboat out on Warner’s Lake to sail and fish. He also enjoyed traveling to Cape Cod with his wife — bicycles in tow. And they went to Maui annually, and also took various bus trips across the country.

Mr. Roemer was skilled at woodworking, crafting items that became family heirlooms, his family wrote in a tribute.

Mr. Roemer loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, said Guy Roemer, and he enjoyed playing pinochle and solving jigsaw puzzles with his family.

“He was still a sharp pinochle player a week before he passed away,” said his son James Roemer, recalling the last game he played with him.

His daughter said that Mr. Roemer lived a life with no regret.

“We all should have his life,” she said. “We all should be able to live his kind of life.”


James W. Roemer Sr. is survived by his wife, Ruth (née Geier) Roemer; by his children, James Roemer Jr. and his wife, Elaine, Guy Roemer and his wife, Michele, and Jill Roemer; by his eight grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

His sister, Shirley Adams, died before him, as did his brothers, William, Walter, Robert, and Richard Roemer.

In a tribute, his family thanked his “guardian angels and caretakers Caren, Taylor, and Rosemary for their care, concern, and love.”

Mr. Roemer’s family has invited relatives and friends to visit on Saturday, April 6, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the Applebee Funeral Home at 403 Kenwood Avenue in Delmar.

Memorial contributions may be made to the First Reformed Church of Berne, 1664 Helderberg Trail, Berne, NY 12023.

— H. Rose Schneider

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