Ervin F. Rutley, 88, of Colton, New York died peacefully on Tuesday morning, June 25, 2019 at the Canton-Potsdam Hospital. His wife, Mary, and son, Gregory, were by his side. Ervin is known to most people by his childhood nickname, “Ike.”
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Ervin Fay Rutley was born on a farm in Lisbon, NY on May 16, 1931. His parents, Harold and Alice Marcellus Rutley, were Canadians who moved from farm to farm in the county until they owned two farms in the Town of Potsdam. The middle child, Ike was predeceased by his parents as well as siblings: Thorold, Leonard, Ilene, Helen, Ethel, William, and a half-brother Wesley Marselis. He sorely missed his beautiful calico Missy Katt who died this year.
Ike met the love of his life, Mary Steinburg, in Potsdam on her first weekend as a student at SUNY Potsdam. They married on June 24, 1961 and they enjoyed fifty-eight years in Colton. He is also survived by his son, Gregory, and his companion, Sandee Mayville, and many nieces and nephews. During his later years he acquired youthful ‘grand students’ and ‘adopted grandchildren’. He served as a surrogate parent/grandparent and story teller for many.
Ike attended County schools finishing his formal education at Norwood. He enjoyed a long work career beginning the Stanley Aitchison farm in Madrid and then the Dodge and Savoid IGA store in South Colton. In 1954 he was drafted into the Army where he proudly served most of his two years in Occupied Germany. He returned to train as a meat cutter at the IGA store before taking a job at the St. Lawrence University Snow Bowl. He ran the day-to-day operation of the ski area until it closed twenty years later in 1982. His final job took him deeper into the ‘South Woods’ as caretaker at a private park, the Hollywood Club Inc., until 1994 when he retired as an honorary member. He continued to work part-time with Scott McRobbie doing small engine repair.
Ike’s summer ‘job’ was working in his garden. Campers at Higley Flow State Park and locals knew the vegetable stand on the road to the Park. Sweet corn was grown at family farms in Madrid and on Norwood Pond and cow manure imported from the farms kept the veggies growing in Colton. After Ike’s heart surgery friends, especially Chuck Davis, gardened for him until Mary and her teenage helpers took over. When confined to a wheel chair Ike still had a container garden he could water from the deck.
This life story is not complete, however, without the last twenty years. In 1999 Ike suffered a triple A (abdominal aortic aneurysm) rupture that took him to the Watertown hospital; he was a miracle that survived after a seventy-day stay. After quadruple bypass surgery in 2004 life improved but in 2007 another aneurysm took his leg and confined him to a wheelchair. He continued to enjoy life, friends, and family for his love of life
and work sustained him. In the final months he frequented emergency rooms and hospitals and talked of ‘going home.’
Ike was an outdoors man: hunting, fishing, berrying, and cutting wood. He was a former member of hunting clubs, primarily Roaring Brook Club that adjoined the Hollywood Club. He was a Mason at the High Falls Lodge in Colton. At morning coffee he was known as a person of strong opinions and ready to voice those opinions. Ike’s life was the essence of the poem, “The Road Not Traveled.”
Plans are incomplete for a memorial gathering later in the summer. Burial of his ashes will be in the Riverside Cemetery in Norwood. Those wishing to make a donation in his memory could donate to Colton Rescue Squad, High Falls Masonic Lodge, Canton- Potsdam Hospital Foundation, United Helpers, or a charity of one’s choice.