Charles Sterling

Charles Sterling


GUILDERLAND — Charles Andrew Sterling logged over 6,500 hours as a volunteer ambassador, helping travelers at Albany Airport, during his retirement. He will be buried in the maroon jacket he wore for his volunteer duties at the airport, his daughter, Linda Lachanski, said. “It was his absolute favorite thing,” she said of the jacket.

Mr. Sterling died on Friday, July 29, 2016, at his home, surrounded by family. He was 81.

His family had had a huge surprise party for him on his 80th birthday, Mrs. Lachanski said, but he probably enjoyed even more his 81st, when Albany County Sheriff’s deputies and airport staff organized a surprise party for him. The deputies knew Mr. Sterling well, since they too worked at the airport, where for more than 12 years Mr. Sterling helped people find whatever they needed, including gates, restaurants, and bathrooms. By the time of his last birthday, Mr. Sterling was ill and could no longer drive, so members of the department came out to his home to pick him up in a patrol car and bring him to the celebration at the airport.

The staff at the airport “was his second family,” Mrs. Lachanski said.

Mr. Sterling was born in Albany on April 29, 1935, to Charles and Marion Sterling. He was one of four children.

Over the course of his professional career, he worked for Rutland Lumber Company, RTA, Bellevue Builders, and Best Tile. He was a cabinetmaker and kitchen designer for many years.

He had also volunteered with his grandsons’ Boy Scout troops, and at the Guilderland YMCA, teaching kids to swim. He had a black belt in judo and taught the martial art through the Guilderland Judo Club in earlier years, his daughter said. He received a commendation in 2006 from President George W. Bush for his volunteer work.

He was a man of many hobbies. He loved camping and fishing, although he didn’t like the taste of fish, Mrs. Lachanski said, so he always gave away what he caught. “He made a lot of friends that way,” she said with a laugh. He was a past member of the Guilderland Elks Club.

He also painted, on both canvas and on flat slate rock. He liked to draw birds, old barns, farms, churches, and the ocean, his daughter said. His work was exhibited recently at the Guilderland Public Library, and it will be displayed at the funeral home during his wake. “He was very proud of it, and so are we,” Mrs. Lachanski said.

He also loved Chevys. He was a member of the Capital District Chevy Club for many years, and often drove to club meetings in one of his two restored cars — a ’64 Impala SS and a ’66 Chevelle. “They’re like in mint condition,” his daughter. The Impala was his “pride and joy,” she said; it was once featured in a car-collecting magazine.

Early in his adult life, Mr. Sterling served in the Army ROTC for six years. He was a gunner, his daughter said, and achieved the rank of sergeant before his honorable discharge in 1963.

“He always had a special place in his heart for veterans,” Mrs. Lachanski recalled.

As a father, he was “loving, caring, supportive, the best,” his daughter said.

“I know everyone says that about their father,” she continued, “but that’s only because they didn’t know him.”


Charles is survived by his wife, Jean (née Cassidy) Sterling; and by his children, Gary Sterling and his wife, Aundrea, of North Carolina; Gail Farris and her husband, Robert, of Texas; Jill Keyrouze and her husband, Timothy, also of Texas; and Linda Lachanski and her husband, Daniel, of Duanesburg. He is also survived by his sister Marjorie Laymond, of Castleton, and by 13 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

His parents Charles and Marion Sterling died before him, as did his brother Robert Sterling and his sister, Coralie Sterling.

The family thanks the entire staff at Albany County Hospice for their care and support, and the staff at the Albany County Airport and the Albany County Sheriff’s Office for a birthday they will never forget.

Calling hours will be held on Thursday, Aug. 4 from 4 to 8 p.m. at New Comer Funeral Home, 343 New Karner Rd., Colonie. The funeral service will be on Friday, Aug. 5 at 10 a.m. at the funeral home, with interment to follow at Memory Gardens in Colonie.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Captain John J. McKenna IV Military Courtesy Room, a volunteer-run lounge at the airport   for active military and veterans. The address is Albany International Airport, 737 Albany Shaker Rd., Albany, NY 12211.

—Elizabeth Floyd Mair

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