Greta J. Radley

— Greta J. Radley

ALTAMONT — Greta Radley was a kind woman who always wore a smile; she was the type of person, her daughter Bonnie said, who “could hold her own in a conversation, whether it was telling tales of her life growing up or talking about the goings-on of the day.”

She died on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. She was 92.

Greta J. (née Gade) Radley was born in Albany in 1927 to John and Elizabeth “Betty” Gade. Her mother was a homemaker; her father operated Gade Farm on Route 20 in Guilderland, which has been in the Gade family for 200 years, Bonnie Radley said. 

As the eldest daughter, Bonnie Radley said of her mother, “I think she had to help her mother a lot more in the home, learning to cook and bake. She was an excellent baker; she’s well known for her pies and her flaky pie crust.”

Mrs. Radley grew up on her family’s farm and graduated from Milne High School in Albany.

She would go on to attend Cornell University “until she fell in love with and married the love of her life, Ernest F. ‘Red’ Radley in 1947,” Mrs. Radley’s family write in a tribute. 

Mrs. Radley did not finish her degree; she was 20 years old when she married, Bonnie Radley said. Had she finished, however, her daughter said that Mrs. Radley probably would have wound up working at a place like Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Mr. Radley attended Altamont High School, and, before World War II, had played in the Yankees farm system, his daughter said. 

Mrs. Radley’s younger brother also played baseball. 

“And I think my father just saw my mother at an event … And she caught his eye,” Bonnie Radley said. Mr. Radley convinced his future wife’s younger brother that he could join him and his friends at the event — if he brought along his sister. 

“So, he was the instigator of that,” Bonnie Radley said of her father. 

Mr. Radley’s family operated a dry-goods warehouse in Albany, his daughter said, where he worked for a time, running the business with his father. 

“So, while he was doing that, he was courting my mother at the same time,” Bonnie Radley said. Her mother would eventually become the bookkeeper for her husband and father-in-law’s business, Bonnie Radley said. 

Mrs. Radley, her family wrote in a tribute, “Enjoyed 50 wonderful years with Red before his death in 1997.”  

In 1961, the family moved to Delaware County and, for the next 25 years, Mr. and Mrs. Radley were the sole operators of family dairy farm. “They didn’t really have hired help,” Bonnie Radley said; it was actually a “family” dairy farm “in that sense.”

“It was a unique lifestyle,” Bonnie Radley said of growing up on a farm, “because we had a big farmhouse.” A lot of family, as well as extended family members, would make would make the trek to Delaware County for weekend and holiday trips.

Bonnie Radley also said that a lot of her family’s Delaware County neighbors had been elderly residents who no longer had children living nearby or never had children. “And they were always invited to our holiday gatherings or sometimes Sunday dinners,” she said.

She remembered in particular one elderly neighbor whose wife had died. 

He would come up to the farm and help her father in the barn, Bonnie Radley said, “and he actually celebrated Christmas mornings with us.” Both of her parents had opened their “hearts and arms” to so many people, she said, it was a wonderful example to grow up with.

Bonnie Radley recalled, in between the “haying,” her father would hook a wagon to a tractor and the family would load up the wagon with a picnic table and benches, and “my mother would cook all this food and box it up to keep it warm.” 

The family would then pile into the wagon and Mr. Radley would drive to a recently-mowed hayfield, she said, “and we spent the day — a Sunday — and maybe play ball or play games on the wagon, and just relax and enjoy everyone’s company.”

Bonnie Radley also said that her parents were immediately welcomed by the Delaware County community. 

When the family moved to the county, she said, her parents were invited to become part of a group of farmer couples called the “Couples Club,” which, as a married couple who worked seven days a week, was really “nice social network” to be invited into. 

The couples would get together on a Saturday evening, she said, “and they would just have a night of relaxation, enjoyment, and a lot of fun.” Unfortunately, a lot of the group has now died, but there are some with whom her mother stayed in touch, she said.

“In 1986, Greta and Red retired from the dairy business and returned to the Altamont/Guilderland area,” Mrs. Radley’s family wrote in a tribute, where each continued to work in some capacity. But the couple also enjoyed retirement. 

They would travel to Florida on more than one occasion and “took an excursion” out west to see the Grand Canyon, Bonnie Radley said. Her mother was also able to see Alaska with her siblings.

“Greta was an avid reader, card player, music lover, and exceptional pie baker,” Mrs. Radley’s family wrote in a tribute. “You can’t be a Gade without being a Pinochle player,” her daughter said. “You learn from infancy on that one ... You’re well taught from my grandfather who could actually recall every card that’s [been] played.”

Bonnie Radley said that, when her late husband and mother “got together,” there would often be a discussion of the politics of the day. “They shared similar political views and, so they would have very in-depth discussions about that,” she said that her mother “was always very articulate, well-read.”

“She was always kind, she always had a smile, and, even when she needed help in later years from aids or other people around her, she was always so thankful,” Bonnie Radley said of her mother. “She appreciated whatever they could do for her, whether it was her daughters [or] an aid who had helped her.”
 

****

Greta J. Radley is survived by her four daughters: Sharon Shear and her husband, Mark, Bonnie Radley, Martha Kemp and her husband, Walter, and Karen Radley; by her grandchildren, Sayra Craft and Andrew Kemp; and by her sister, Nancy Hollomon.  

She is also survived by her step-grandchildren: Brendan Ashley, Nathan Kemp and his wife, Melissa, Jared Kemp, Jordon Kemp and his wife, Alexis, Nichole Hurbanek and her husband, Tom, Coby Shear, Lucas Shear and his wife, Jen; and by several beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, great-grandchildren, grand nieces and grand nephews; and by many good friends, old and new. 

Her husband, Ernest, died before her, as did her brother, “Jack” Gade, and her son-in-law, John M. Eberhard. 

A memorial service will be held on Friday, Nov. 22, at 11 a.m., at New Comer Cremations & Funerals at 343 New Karner Road in Colonie.  Relatives and friends may call on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 4 to 6 p.m., Private burial will be in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Guilderland.

Memorial messages may be left at AltamontEnterprise.com/milestones.

Memorial contributions may be made to Community Hospice Foundation, 310 South Manning Blvd., Albany, NY 12208 or to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library at imaginationlibrary.com. 

— Sean Mulkerrin

 

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