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Homer Osterhoudt

Homer Osterhoudt, Citizen: A Life Of Service, Leadership, Joy Is An Example To Us All

Editorial, July 6, 2018

Homer Osterhoudt, Citizen

A Life Of Service, Leadership,

Joy Is An Example To Us All

Homer Osterhoudt with son Darrell at the 2016 Hall of Fame Induction, his 70th.

Interviewed as his 100th birthday last January, Homer Osterhoudt remained full of life and curiosity, enthusiastically reporting deer peering in the window of his Woodside Hall room most evenings.
His back, which had carried
Cooperstown’s mail on a 10-mile
route daily for many of his 34 years at the Cooperstown post office, had begun to bend, but he was as warm and pleasant as always, as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
While waiting for him to return to his room from lunch, his caregivers praised his courtesy and calm. He was uncomplaining as the inevitable approached, perhaps a testimony to his Baptist faith.
The inevitable arrived Saturday, June 30, and Homer Osterhoudt, one of Cooperstown’s first citizens – none were more beloved – made his final departure from the community that had been his home for a century.

Many knew of Homer through his connection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which goes back to the very beginning. At 19, he was running a cement mixer in front of the post office on Main Street for Bedford Construction of Utica. The cement he produced, he would remember fondly for the rest of his life, was used in every single part of the original building.
Then, he thought the Hall of Fame would be “a little museum on Main Street” – so did Stephen C. Clark, his granddaughter attested when she and Homer participated in a panel discussion in the Bullpen Theater during 75th anniversary commemorations. Both, it turned out, were wrong.
Still, Homer must have had an inkling of great things to come during the first Induction in 1939, when he photographed Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and other immortals in the first class. Those many photos are now in the Hall’s collection, a permanent memorial to a curious and lively mind.
Since, there have been 74 Inductions – during World War II, the practice lapsed 1940-34 – and Homer reported his was proud to have attended all but three. In recent years, what frequenter of Inductions doesn’t remember Homer, under his bucket hat, with a “I was here on June 12, 1939” sign around his neck.

His obituary on the front of this week’s edition further reminds us that his Induction record was just a small part of a small-town life well lived.

Hall of Fame photo – Homer Osterhoudt rides in the Hall of Fame’s 75th anniversary parade in 2014 with two others who were at the first Induction in 1939: former Hall director Howard Talbot, who has since passed away, and Catherine Walker of Hartwick.

He maintained friendly relations for decades as a long-time member of the Cooperstown High School Alumni Association, serving as its president. He was, of course, eventually a Native Son – his birth, in Oneonta, forestalled that until he reached age 50 – serving as president of that signature community organization.
He was active in his church, locally and as vice president of the Otsego County Baptist Men’s Association; (one of the three Inductions he missed, he recalled, was to attend an annual state Baptist conference.)
He was more than a postal carrier, (although he credited the miles he walked daily, in part, for his long and, until and healthy life): A career-long member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, he once was president of the Southern Tier District.
All of these community and professional leadership roles underscore that Homer Osterhoudt lived a full life of service, leadership and caring.
That final quality was passed on through his and wife Marion’s only child. The care and attention son Darrell and his wife Priscilla devoted to tending the beloved man in recent years, frequently commuting back and forth from their home in Springfield, Va., was an example the rest of us can only hope to duplicate.

A life well-lived: What was Homer’s secret?
At his 100th birthday party Jan. 14 in the Baptist Church’s community room, Ina Phillips of Hartwick, who worked at a downtown law firm during Homer’s years delivering mail, recalled, “He always came down the street with a smile.”
Asked about his father’s cheerful outlook, son Darrell replied, “Maybe that’s his secret.”
It’s a secret we’d all do well to emulate. Meanwhile, we can only reflect in awe and appreciation on a happy life well lived.
Goodbye, friend to us all, and thank you.

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FULL OBITUARY: Homer M. Osterhoudt Dies At 100; Attended All But 3 Inductions

IN MEMORIAM

Homer M. Osterhoudt

Dies At 100; Attended

All But 3 Inductions

Homer Osterhoudt in 2012 at his 65th Hall of Fame Induction. (AllOTSEGO.com photo)

COOPERSTOWN – Homer M. Osterhoudt, 100, who mixed concrete to build the Baseball Hall of Fame and attended all Inductions since 1939 except three, passed away peacefully Saturday, June 30, 2018, at Woodside Hall.

He was born on Jan. 17, 1918, in Oneonta, the son of Maurice C. and Catherine Hopkins Osterhoudt.  Later that year, the family moved to 98 Lake St., Cooperstown, where his father worked for the Fenimore Farm Dairy delivering milk by horse and wagon.  His parents bought a farm in Phoenix Mills in 1920 where he lived until 1946.

He attended Phoenix Mills’ one-room school house through eighth grade, moving to Cooperstown High School in 1932.  For many years he organized annual reunions of his Class of 1936.  He was a member of the Cooperstown High School Alumni Association, and its president at one time.

As a young boy, he caddied at the Leatherstocking Golf Club and served a couple years as caddy master.  He worked for the local Grand Union grocery in 1939-41 as a clerk and delivered groceries by van.

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60 Say ‘Happy 100th’ To Homer Osterhoudt

60 Say ‘Happy 100th’

To Homer Osterhoudt

Sixty friends, family and well-wishers are gathered at this hour – and until 4 p.m., at First Baptist Church, 21, Elm St. – to celebrate the 100th birthday of Homer Osterhoudt, retired mailman, square dancer for decades, and the man who has attended all but a handful of Hall of Fame Inductions, certainly a record.  Here, before digging into a slice of birthday cake, the guest of honor pauses with son Darrell and daughter-in-law Priscilla of Springfield, Va., and their daughter, Dana Roesener, of Springfield, Mo., for a family portrait.  Born in Oneonta and raised in Phoenix Mills, Homer operated a cement mixer during the construction of the Baseball Hall in 1937-39.  Lately, he’s been residing at Woodside Hall.  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
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Homer Osterhoudt Cclebrates 99th

Homer Osterhoudt Celebrates 99th

Homer Osterhoudt celebrates his 99th birthday this past Tuesday at Woodside Hall, Cooperstown, with two of his pals, Gene Young, left, and Dick Sliter, the First Baptist Church interim pastor. Homer, one of the last surviving baseball fans who attended the first Baseball Hall of Fame induction in 1939, spent his career as a mailman, walking 10 miles a day along village streets.
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Hall’s Prominence-To-Be Surprised Stephen Clark, Homer Osterhoudt

Hall’s Prominence Surprised

Stephen Clark, Homer Osterhoudt

Against a backdrop of a photo of the Hall of Fame's first induction, in 1939, Homer Osterhoudt, center, who attended the original induction and all but three since, and Hall Curator Emeritus Ted Spencer discuss how the Hall's become a centerpiece of American life and myth. At left is moderator Bruce Markusen. (Jim Kevlin/allotsego.com)
Against a backdrop of a photo of the Hall of Fame’s first induction, in 1939, Homer Osterhoudt, center, who attended the original induction and all but three since, and Hall Curator Emeritus Ted Spencer discuss how the Hall has become a centerpiece of American life and myth. At left is moderator Bruce Markusen. (Jim Kevlin/allotsego.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • allotsego.com

Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark chats with an attendee after she and Hall President Jeff Idelson conducted a Q&A in the Hall's Bullpen Theater this afternoon.
Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark chats with an attendee after she and Hall President Jeff Idelson conducted a Q&A in the Hall’s Bullpen Theater this afternoon during the annual Community Day, when county residents are admitted to the national shrine for free.

COOPERSTOWN – Few people realized the Baseball Hall of Fame’s potential when it was officially opened on June 12, 1939, 75 years ago this year.

Not Homer Osterhoudt, then a young man in his 20s standing in the lower left of photos taken that day of the throng in front of 25 Main.  (Osterhoudt, now in his mid-90s, has attended every induction except three since then.)

At the time, Osterhoudt had spent the past two years on the construction crew of what he thought would be “a little museum on Main Street” and was somewhat taken aback that day by autograph seekers clamoring around Honus Wagner when he arrived at the passenger depot behind Bruce Hall’s.

A country boy, raised on a farm near Phoenix Mills, he’d never seen a crowd as large as the one that gathered to christen the Hall that day.

Nor Stephen C. Clark, the museum’s founder.

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Experts, Vets Ponder 75th Meaning (2)

Hall, Cooperstown Have Changed, Veterans Reflect

By JIM KEVLIN

Yesterday was today’s topic, and things have changed.

“I shouldn’t say this,” said Ted Spencer, the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s retired curator, “but my first year here” – 1982 – “I tried everything on.”

How things have become more formal and security-conscious over the years was one theme that emerged from a panel Spencer rounded out Thursday, June 12, the 75th anniversary of the first Induction, with three who attended the original event: Homer Osterhoudt and Howard Talbot of Cooperstown, and Catherine Walker of Fly Creek.

Osterhoudt, then 21, and later a 30-year mail carrier in the village, had worked on the construction crew of the just-completed Hall. Talbot, 14, was home from Manlius Military Academy. Walker, then 8 and later the mother of five, was on her father’s hand most of June 12, 1939.

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