Joseph Salzer Jr. 

Joseph Salzer Jr.

HILLTOWNS — Joseph Salzer Jr., who built the home his family lived in and made his mark on the Capital District and beyond as a carpenter, died on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020 at the Springside Nursing and Rehab Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He was 82.

Mr. Salzer was born on Aug. 5, 1938, in Berne, to Joseph and Martha Sisson Salzer, and grew up in Rensselaer. 

After high school, Mr. Salzer became a carpenter for Sweet Associates, a job he held until retirement. “He worked hard,” Mr. Salzer’s son, Alan Salzer, said of the projects his father was involved in. 

Among other things, Mr. Salzer worked on the Gilboa Dam in the Schoharie Reservoir, the Watervliet Arsenal, and the Glens Falls Hospital. 

Mr. Salzer’s first wife, Carol Huntington, Alan Salzer’s mother, died when Alan Salzer was 16 months old. Mr. Salzer later married Janet Wright, who died in 2009. Mr. Salzer was father to seven children.

“He didn’t let us [kids] get away with much,” Alan Salzer said. “At least the stuff he knew about.”

“He taught us how to work,” his son said. “He taught us how to live … I learned everything from him.” 

Mr. Salzer built the Westerlo home that the family lived in “with his own two hands,” Alan Salzer said, and secured a mining permit and heavy equipment to work the 100 acres of land the house sat on.

Alan Salzer recalled when his father bought a dump truck that was too small, so he got a larger box for the truck and figured out how to cut and stretch the frame to accommodate the new box. “Built a whole new dump truck right inside a two-car garage,” Alan Salzer said.

“When I was in high school,” Alan Salzer said, “when I was old enough to get my license, I’d come home and he’d have people who had jobs and wanted shale, and that’s what I would do. I’d get home from school, jump in the dump truck, fire up the front loader and start delivering shale to a job. I’d do that until dark and then come home and do my homework.” 

Alan Salzer said that his father played just as hard as he worked, taking camping trips every weekend, favoring Lake Champlain. 

“He was camping right up until two years ago,” Alan Salzer said. 

In addition to camping, Mr. Salzer enjoyed driving cars — fast. 

“He very rarely had a vehicle more than two or three years,” Alan Salzer said. “The faster it went, the better it was. He had a lead foot.

“If you ask anybody up on the mountain,” Alan Salzer said, “Berne, Knox, or Westerlo, there wasn’t an Albany County sheriff that could catch him. They never did.”

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Joseph Salzer Jr. is survived by his significant other, Judy Lewis; his children, Michael Salzer, Sherry Davis, Daniel Salzer, David Salzer, Joseph Salzer III, and Alan Salzer; his 14 grandchildren; his six great-grandchildren; his siblings, Thomas Salzer and Lucinda McCarthy; and many nieces and nephews.

His son, Timothy Salzer, died before him, as did his wife, Carol Huntington, and his sister, Martha Keller.

Calling hours will be held on Sunday, Aug. 30, from 2 until 5 p.m. at the A.J. Cunningham Funeral Home, 4898 State Route 81, Greenville, followed by a funeral service at 5 p.m. Masks are required at the funeral home, and 40 visitors at a time will be allowed inside.

Mr. Salzer’s body will then be privately cremated.

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

Memorial contributions may be made to either the Community Hospice of Albany, 445 New Karner Road, Albany, NY  12205 or to the Hospice Care In the Berkshires, 877 South St, Pittsfield, MA  01201.

— Noah Zweifel

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