James J. Almy Sr.

James J. Almy Sr.

GUILDERLAND — James J. Almy Sr., a hard-working man who loved his family, died on Friday, July 17, 2020, at St. Peter’s Hospice Inn. He was 87.

“We used to joke about him being a carbon copy of Archie Bunker,” said his daughter, Suzanne Joslin, referring to the 1970s blue-collar sitcom character. “He’d sometimes come across as grumpy, but deep down he had a heart of gold.”

James was born on July 12, 1933 in Selkirk, and raised in Guilderland, the youngest of Albert F. and Catherine L. (née VanDenburgh) Almy’s five children. His mother was a homemaker and his father worked for the railroad.

Mr. Almy was proud to follow in his father’s footsteps, Ms. Joslin said, and went to work for the New York Central Railroad in 1948 at the age of 15.

In 1953, when he was 20, he was drafted to serve in the United States Navy and spent four years on the CVA47 Philippine Sea, an aircraft carrier.

“He went all over the place,” said Ms. Joslin of her father’s travels during his four years in the Navy.

Upon coming home, he returned to his work at the New York Central Railroad in 1958, remaining with the company as it transitioned to Penn Central and finally as Conrail from which he retired in 1990 after 42 years.

“He started as a clerk with the railroad and he retired as a terminal trainmaster,” said Ms. Joslin, explaining he would sit in a tower and oversee the safe arrival and departure of trains.

Mr. Almy met the love of his life, Dorothy (née Edwards) Almy, at a tavern on Route 20 in Guilderland. As they talked, they realized they had shared sleigh rides in their childhood.

The couple wed in 1958. They were married for 54 years, the union ending only with Mrs. Almy’s death.

“They adored each other,” said Ms. Joslin of her parents. “Anything she wanted, he made sure she had it. He devoted his life to making her happy.”

Mrs. Almy had had a difficult childhood so her husband made up for it. “She never had many dolls. When she passed away, she had a room full of dolls,” said Ms. Joslin.

Ms. Joslin also said, “He was an amazing father to my brother and me.”

Because Mr. Almy traveled so much for his work, the family didn’t get to go away on vacations, Ms. Joslin said. “He put a pool in the backyard so we had stay-cations,” she said. “He and my mother took pride in their yard and garden.” They raised beautiful flowers.

In addition to his railroad job, Mr. Almy also worked as a school bus driver for Voorheesville from 1962 to 1976.

“He would make the boys sit on one side of the bus and the girls on the other,” said his daughter.. “He had them file out from the back first … He was very strict but the kids loved him.”

After her father died, Ms. Joslin learned from one of his long-ago passengers, now grown, something she had never known: One year, the kids on the bus pitched in to buy him a jacket and he was so touched he teared up.

After Mr. Almy retired from the railroad, he worked for the Town of Guilderland Senior Transportation Department. “He was a working man,” said his daughter.

She also said, “He was a family man. He took care of the family.”

In their spare time, the Almys liked to go to estate sales and antique shows. “He had a humongous collection of stained-glass lamps,” said his daughter. “He had 37 in the living room.”

Mr. Almy was also a life-long baseball fan. “When I was a little girl, I watched baseball with him,” said his daughter.

In more recent years, she said, “He was very proud to be a season ticket-holder for the Tri-City Valleycats. We almost never missed a game. I’m sorry he didn’t get to go this year,” she said, noting there were many losses because of the shutdown for the coronavirus pandemic.

“He was a wonderful grandfather,” said Ms. Joslin. “He rarely missed a ballet recital, a Little League game, or a wrestling match. My mother and he were always there.”

Mr. Almy left two important values as a legacy to his family.

One, said his daughter, is “a great work ethic — he passed that on to his kids and grandkids.”

The other, she said, is his rock-solid belief in “the importance of family.”


James J. Almy Sr. is survived by his son, James J. Almy Jr. and his wife, Annette; his daughter, Suzanne Joslin; his sister, Dorothy McClelland; nine grandchildren, Rebecca Derway and her husband, Chris, Tanya Callahan and her husband, Keith, Michael Almy, William Joslin IV, James Almy III and his wife, Juanita, Jack Almy, Stacy Neary and her husband Chris, Courtney Hoffman, and Robert Hoffman; four great-grandchildren, Ian Derway, Izabela Derway, Caleb Callahan, and Landon Neary; and several nieces and nephews.

His beloved wife of 54 years, Dorothy (née Edwards) Almy, died before him, as did his parents, Albert F. and Catherine L. (née VanDenburgh) Almy, and his siblings, Albert Almy, John Almy, and Ruth Hilton.

As Mr. Almy wished, there will be no services.

Memorial messages may be left at www.altamontenterprise.com/milestones.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer


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