School 09


Charles A. Decker

February 19, 1926 ~ November 7, 2018 (age 92)
Obituary Image

    Charles James Decker was born in Afton, NY during a chimney fire on February 19, 1926. The homestead he was born in belonged to his great-great-grandfather, Selah Decker. Charles lived in the family home for over 90 years. He was pre-deceased by his parents, Bernett Hurd Decker and Mildred Bisbee Decker, his brother Martin G. Decker and his wife Martha, and his brother in law Clint Quackenbush.

     He is survived by his sister, Sylvia Decker Quackenbush, his brother Raymond F. Decker and his wife Mary. Also surviving are many nieces and nephews and several great nieces and nephews.

     Charles graduated from Afton Central School in 1943. He then attended the Cornell College of Agriculture, and in 1951 he graduated with a degree in animal husbandry. He was an alumnus emeritus member of the Alpha Phi Delta fraternity. When the family had to sell their cattle due to the constructing of Interstate-88 Charles had to find a new career. Charles applied for grants, was awarded a scholarship, and attended Syracuse University. He graduated with a Master`s Degree in Library Science in 1969.

     Charles then worked for the Four County Library System and in the Bookmobile for 23 years until he retired, then part time for another six years after he retired. The Bookmobile served readers in Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Otsego Counties. Charles loved his job and made many lifelong friends in his travels.

    Charles` family were founding members of the Afton Presbyterian Church. Charles was a proud lifetime member since Easter Sunday of 1938. For many years he supplied fresh flowers from his own gardens to display on the alter, and then gave them to other members of the congregation after the service was over. He was a ruling elder of the church, sung in the choir, and taught an adult Sunday School class.

    He was a long-time member of the Afton Free Library Board, a member of the board of Glenwood Cemetery Association, a member of the board of Afton Historical Society, a lifetime member of the Afton High School Alumni.

     In 1973 Fred Foster asked Charles to take over his position as Afton Town Historian. “The rest is history”, as the saying goes. Charles spent countless hours accumulating and cataloging historical data. He gave many historical talks and tours to various organizations and individuals alike. His memory was truly amazing, and he will have forgotten more than most of us will ever know.

   In 1991 Charles was awarded the Service To Mankind Award by SERTOMA for his many acts of service in and around the Afton community.

    Charles was also well known in the area for his weekly column in the local newspaper, The Tri Town News, called “The Way We Were.” These were Historical Minutes that accumulated and culminated to over 1100 articles mostly about a variety of interesting topics in local history. He wrote the columns for many years until in early 2015 illness prevented him from continuing.

     Charles` special interest in history was that of Joseph Smith and the formative years of the Mormon religion in the Afton environs. He assembled a large collection of pertinent historical documents and showed these to Mormon groups as one function of his local tours of the historical sites. One such site was the location of Joseph Smith`s first marriage on the grounds of the current Afton Fair.

    For this special service, Charles was honored by a Mormon sponsored invitation to visit their headquarter buildings and activities in Salt Lake City, Utah. His room was chosen for him by his hosts because of the beautiful view of the Mormon Tabernacle. Charles attended a rehearsal for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was honored when he was asked to sing with them as their special guest.

    Charles retired as Afton Historian in 2016 after 43 years of service. At that time, he was honored by the New York State Public Historians with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented by the State Historian, Devin Lander on Oct 1st,

 in a ceremony at the Afton Historical Museum. The day was named “Charles Decker Day” by local village officials.

     In 2017 the Afton Chamber of Commerce recognized Charles with the Citizen Of The Year Award for his many good works in the community.

     Charles accomplished so much in his lifetime, but we would be remiss if we did not speak of the heart of who Charles was. If you needed a favor, Charles was there. He would give you the shirt off his back. He had a jailhouse ministry, as well as visiting shut-ins. If you had an appointment or needed groceries, Charles would volunteer to take you. He wanted nothing more than to help his friends, and if Charles knew you, you were his friend. He was a friend to all, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

    A celebration of Charles` life is planned for the spring at the convenience of the family. Donations can be made in memory of Charles to the Afton Presbyterian Church, the Afton Central School Alumni Association, or the Afton Historical Society. Online condolences may be made at:   Arrangements by the Osterhoudt-Madden Funeral Home 69-71 Maple Street Harpursville.  A MADDEN FAMILY FUNERAL HOME.




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