George Francis Chickering, who was born April 8, 1913, died Sept. 5, 2013, at age 100 years, four months and 28 days.
In the course of his long life, Dad achieved most of the goals he set for himself. He married the girl of his dreams and stayed married to her for 71 years. After their early years in ppstate New York, he and Mom (Evelyn) moved to New Jersey in the midst of the Great Depression and set about making a life for themselves; this at a time when the social safety net, so common today, did not exist. Happily for their boys, that life included raising two sons, Donn and Robert. In 1947, they bought the home they cherished in Ridgewood and remained there, most contentedly, throughout their lives. Dad's beloved Evelyn, our Mom, died in 2007, but Dad continued to live in that house right to the end. They joined the Ridgewood Country Club in 1953 and enjoyed its beauty and many amenities for all their subsequent years. Working together, they found a way to pay for the college education of their sons, watched them grow and establish their own lives, have children of their own, and, eventually, watched the children of their children grow and prosper as they created their own families. As the joys and tragedies that inhabit every life unfolded, they were always available to provide their loving support and guidance. Their greatest joy, they maintained, derived from each other and from their sons, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren. As the years passed and a large part of the family moved West, Mom and Dad drove to California 77 times in the fall of each year for a month-long visit, stopping in Kentucky on their return to visit with their new friends in that lovely state.
One of the goals Dad set for himself was to live to be 100. No one who knew him was surprised that he made it. On the advent of Dad's 100th birthday on April 8 of this year, a joyous and boisterous party was held at the Ridgewood Country Club to celebrate the great day, attended by nearly 70 friends and family members from across the country. Dad even tried to hit a golf ball or two. Two days later, he worked out at his regular gym, a part of the Valley Hospital, on Route 17, where his birthday was celebrated once again; after a bit of a workout, of course.
All of us who knew and loved him were urging Dad to continue on beyond 100 and go for the record. He was amenable to that concept but it turned out that God had a different plan. Dad died on the morning of Sept. 5, having battled an encounter with pneumonia for two months, the after-effects of which finally brought an end to his bountiful life.
George Francis Chickering was born on April 8, 1913, in Little Falls, in an age mostly lost to memory. In that year of 1913, the Titanic had sunk only a year earlier; there were no roads in America over which one could drive from the East coast to the West; World War I had not yet begun; electricity was only for the wealthy and airplanes were still a thing of wonder. His mother died, ironically, of pneumonia, when he was three, and he and his younger brother, Robert, were raised by their father, Frank, their maternal grandparents, and their five young aunts. Dad was an altar boy and lead singer at St. Mary's Church in Little Falls. Throughout his life, he and Mom enjoyed returning to the Mohawk Valley and the Adirondack Mountains, and to Little Falls and Mom's hometown of Fort Plain. He was to have been the first member of the family to attend college, but the financial effects of the Depression foreclosed that opportunity, so he and Mom left the mountains for New York City to find work and begin their lives anew.
Page 2 of 2 - Dad was a man of great warmth and humor, of music, of athletics (most prominently golf), of business, but ever and always, a man of his family. In his final days, his son, Robert, was able to tell him that a new Chickering is due to arrive, the son or daughter of his grandson, David. The predicted date of birth is April 8, 2014, 101 years to the day from the date of Dad's birth. Word has it that the child may be named George or Evelyn.
Those of us who knew him best believe he lived so long because of his love for life, for his wife and for us, because, in all his days, he never knew an enemy, and because, I am sure, he knew how much we all loved him. All lives end, but for us, his heirs and survivors, no matter his age, it is a tragedy to see this great and loving man pass from this Earth. We, his sons; his grandchildren, Donn, Kirstin, Britta and David; and his great-grandchildren, Ryan, Owen, Anderson, and Annalise; our wives and larger family; all of the many friends he made, especially those who cared for him in his final years, will miss, for all our days, his love, his kind and smiling presence, his laughter and sense of humor and his guiding hand.
Services were held at the Van Emburgh Funeral Home on Sunday, Sept. 8. The following day we all traveled back to the mountains of New York, where Dad will lie next to Mom for eternity; once again a part of the land which gave them life.
So, Dad, until that day when we all meet again, in a place so vast, so beautiful, so wild and free it is beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend, thanks for showing us how to live and for guiding us onto the paths of our lives. We will cherish you and love you forever. Rest in Peace. Say hi to Mom.