Obituary for Donald "Lewis" Seacord, Jr. at Heller & Skinner Funeral Home (2024)

West Davenport - Gone from the woods but not from our hearts, retired NYS Forest Ranger Captain Donald “Lewis” Seacord Jr. journeyed to Heavenly parks on Tuesday, June 25th, 2024 surrounded by his family and friends.

Born in Cortland, NY May 21, 1943, known to his family as “Lewis”, Lew grew up in Cortland, Norwich, and Baldwinsville, where he worked as a farm hand getting chased by rogue cows or as “Smitty’s” helper driving piles and building docks in the Finger Lakes. At 17, Lew started his 35 years of service to the State of New York working on construction projects at the NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Lewis’s choices out of high school included offers of drafting positions at General Electric or entrance to Ranger School and so started a 32 year career in the woods. Prior to starting his 32 year career as a forest ranger, Lew worked on survey crews in the Adirondacks and served in the National Guard where he earned his CDL license which would come in handy when he “retired."

As District Ranger for District 4, “Don” was the “manager” of the western Catskills Rangers and Fire Watch staff, hiring and training the Rangers and fire tower personnel and securing contracts with air surveillance pilots. As children of a a man passionate about his career and the wilderness, Gys and Pam benefited from many hours on trails with lunches eaten while dangling feet over ledges, climbs to the top of fire towers to view the forests from above, occasional plane rides, and attendance at Ranger weekends, where entire ranger families came together to camp and swim while the rangers practiced fire suppression techniques. As an unusual extension of Don’s job in the 1970’s and 80’s, the rescue of some orphaned raccoons, and injured hawks and owls, resulted in some rare but much appreciated childhood encounters with wildlife. An avid photographer, especially of plants, Lew took thousands of pictures, including pictures used by the NYS Museum in Albany to develop their bog dioramas. Lew also took pictures published in fire fighting magazines of the D&H rail LP gas derailment and explosion, where his then state issued seal skin winter hat saved his scalp as the fire ball rolled over him.

Lew met Jamie Lee Ross at the Wesley House in Oneonta, run by Ed and Nancy English. They married November 26, 1966 at Elm Park Methodist Church in Oneonta, officiated by ED and Nancy, and moved into an apartment on County Route 11 in West Davenport awaiting the completion of there house on “ Seacord Hill” where they would live for the next 58 years. Here, they raised Pam and Gys, a few horses, goats, dogs, a cat or two, and an occasional raccoon. Always involved in every family activity, Lew was the best "horse show Dad” and "soccer Dad”, never missing a horse show and occasionally bringing horses to soccer games when show and game schedules clashed. Lew had a passion and skill for building things, including our hip-roofed spruce barn and the 24' x 24' addition to the house with walkout cellar apartment as well as multiple renditions of our huge deck. Lew loved the art of blacksmithing and had a full shop that, as he joked, “Got moved with each addition of a horse or goats and then eventually dismantled and sold when horse shows and soccer took over all free time.
Lew never did anything little. As a lover of fresh vegetables, he felt a 1 1/2 acre garden was the perfect size to feed a family of 4, especially when little hands were available to pick rocks, weed, plant, and harvest. Lew’s day never ended after work, often it just began. Lew and Jamie would each pack a child onto the back of their bikes and ride the rail bed from West Davenport to Davenport Center and sometimes all the way up to East Meredith. In the winter Lew had a snow plow business and would strap one or both children into the seat of a blue Chevy 4 wheel drive pickup to go plow his 30 plus customer route. For years Lew heated the house with firewood and spent many hours in the woods cutting firewood and fence poles with Gys and Lew’s trusty Kubota tractors. As if he wasn’t busy enough, for a long stretch, he tapped the homestead sugar maples and made gallons of maple syrup each spring; boiling off with a 150 gallon homemade condenser and then the stove top.

Lewis was a longtime member of the Pindar's Corners Fire Department and a one of the founders of “the pancake breakfast” that kept the department funded through the 1970’s and 80’s.

Retirement didn’t mean retirement, because Lew had that CDL license to put to use driving charter buses for Oneonta Bus Lines and school buses for Birnie Bus. His favorite driving jobs were his “sports” buses. Pick a team from Oneonta High School, SUNY Oneonta, or Hartwick and at some point during retirement he probably shuttled them to an event. Endeared by many an Oneonta HS player, he would often attend competitions just to watch them play. Two coaches, Randy Brockway and Lee Ferrara, became two of Lew’s closest friends. In addition to driving bus, Lew was always making or building something- a two story play house for his grandkids, Erin and Andrew; wooden step stools of all kinds, gates, and barns and run-in sheds. Lew and Jamie spent summers traveling the United States with their camper, working at many National Parks. If you walk the boardwalks of Assateague Island National Seashore or Cape Hatteras National Seashore, you’ll likely walk on one Lew built. Lew and Jamie enjoyed hosting visitors during their summer trips. Their daughter in- law, Cheryl, and sister, Carol, most often caught up with them in far off places. Pam, Mary and Erin and Andrew explored Acadia National Park with them where Erin and Andrew thoroughly enjoyed lobstering trips. Even Lee and his family, and Lew’s long time friend Paul Hartman, were known to catch up with them on a trip. Lew missed cleaning horse stalls so much that while working in Bryce Canyon he would sneak down to the mule yard while the rides were out and clean the 70 mule pen of manure and then sneak back off like some stable ghost, leaving the returning staff wondering what had happened. When he finally made his presence known, he had earned himself many a mule ride through the park and endeared himself to the mule drivers. When they were not traveling the country by camper, Lew and Jamie enjoyed many Viking trips on the rivers and oceans of Europe. They traveled to Alaska twice with camper and twice by cruise ship, including a trip with Gys and Cheryl by land and sea. In his final days, he told granddaughter Erin that she and her Mom (Pam) had “wheels glued to their butts” referring to the amount of time we both spend traveling by car. Erin’s loving retort was “Who do you think we got that from!”

Lewis was predeceased by his parents, Donald Lewis Seacord Sr. and Bernice Neal Seacord of Baldwinsville, NY.

He is remembered as a loving husband to wife, Jamie (Ross) Seacord; devoted father, father-in- law, and friend to Pamela & Mary Comerford of Byron, NY and Gys & Cheryl (Pankow) Seacord of Worcester, NY; Papa the nature guide, to Andrew and Erin Parnapy; supportive brother to Carol (Mike) Frasier and Neal Seacord; and uncle to Philip Jackson, Brian Percy, Hannah and Esther Seacord.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 11a.m. Saturday, July 13, at the Pindar’s Corner’s Fire Department, 8898 County Highway, 23 in West Davenport, NY with Brian Percy, presiding.

Expressions of sympathy may be made to, www.hellerskinnerfh.com; arrangements are entrusted with Heller & Skinner Funeral Home, 155 Main St., Worcester.


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Obituary for Donald "Lewis"  Seacord, Jr. at Heller & Skinner Funeral Home (2024)

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