COOPERSTOWN – Arthur “Art” Henry Kiser Sr., 100 years and five days old, who served in the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Marines during World War II, then spent a career with NYSEG, passed peacefully away Nov. 23, 2020, at home, in his own bed, just as he wished. His loving daughter, Teresa, was by his side.
Art was born Henry Alvin Kiser Nov. 18, 1920, in Ohio, a third child of nine to Palmer “Parmie” Kiser Sr. and Anna Roonie (Crace) Kiser. As a young child Art lived in Ithaca, where much of his mother’s family lived. There he enjoyed the company of many cousins.
As a teenager Art joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. He traveled across the country learning to build roads and cabins, fight fires, and hunt an occasional nuisance bear. Many of these places became state parks. He spoke of the beauty he found in the pristine wilderness of Idaho State and driving trucks to deliver nitroglycerin for blasting during road building. He sent his pay home to help support his family.
During the Great Depression his father moved the family where he could find work. The family lived for several years in New York City.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. entered World War II. Many young men were eagerly signing up for military service. Art said of the time that, “If I’m going to sign up, I’m going to sign up for the best and toughest outfit there is.” So, the Marine Corps it would be.
To do so he needed his birth certificate which he didn’t have. After many weeks of waiting it arrived from Ohio. Somehow, someone had mistakenly changed his name from Henry Alvin Kiser to Arthur Henry Kiser and his birth date, one day later to Nov. 19, 1920. As an impatient young man he was not going to wait for it to be corrected. The state of Ohio changed his name and he went with it thereafter.
Art became one of “Edson’s Raiders” in the 1st Marine Raider Battalion, Company C, fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Theater. He was first on Tulagi then joined the other companies to fight on Guadalcanal and in the well-known Edson’s Ridge Battle, the battle to control the airfield.
Proving his ability on the firing range during basic training in North Carolina earned him the BAR (Browning automatic rifle), he carried 15 lbs. of rifle and 15 lbs. of ammunition through the jungle. He was a sharpshooter, sniper.
Malaria took its toll on so many Marines and Art was no exception. Before he left Guadalcanal he was all of 100 lbs. and couldn’t get his belt to hold his pants up let alone the rifle strap.
After months of recovery back in The States, he returned to New York City where, at a party, he met the love of his life, Helen Platt, a Brooklyn girl. After two months of courtship they married on Dec. 31, 1944. Together they decided that city life was not where they wanted to raise a family. They moved to Cooperstown and bought the home they lived in for the rest of their lives and where they raised their six children.
Art took a job in Oneonta with NYSEG, starting as a ditch digger. Before he retired, some 36 years later, he was working in the electric department in Cooperstown.
Art’s hobbies and interests included self-taught TV repair, auto repair, carpentry, gardening, fishing and hunting, and was an avid reader.
His utmost love was for his wife, his children and he was a very involved and dedicated grandfather.
Art is survived by his children, Arthur Kiser Jr. (Lori) of Cooperstown, Sue Georgia (Buddy) of Walla Walla, Washington, Teresa of Cooperstown, Richard (Lori) of Apalachin and Timothy (Tara) of Milford. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Jamie Kiser (Teresa) of Whitesboro, Michael (Tiffany) of Cooperstown, Scott Joslin (Cathy) of Oneonta, Christine Joslin (Eli) of Marshall, North Carolina, Nick Kiser (Stephanie) of Buffalo, Lexi Kiser (Dusty) of Copenhagen, Alex Lubbers (Lauren)of Spotsylvania, Va., Devon and Kaylee Kiser of Milford; as well as by his great-grandchildren, Dylan and Danielle Kiser, Jonathan Joslin, Kruz and Kamden Kiser, Coulter and Wyatt Lubbers. Art is survived by one brother, Paul Kiser of Milford; and many nieces and nephews.
Art was predeceased by Helen, his wife of 66 years; daughter, Nancy Lee Kiser (Feola); as well as four brothers and three sisters.
Graveside services are planned for the springtime.
Arrangements are under the care of Tillapaugh Funeral Service, Cooperstown.