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John Albert Elling
September 20, 2023 (age 73) 73 Years Old
2 Trees, Flowers, or Condolences have been shared with support of John's family - View on Tribute Wall
John Albert Elling of Vorheesville, NY passed away on September 20, 2023, to the heartbreak of
his many friends and family. Born on December 5, 1949 in Bellmore, NY as the youngest child of
Hans and Marie Elling, John quickly showed his passion for the natural world, which continued
throughout his life. Growing up near Jones Beach on Long Island, it was one of his favorite
places to return, especially during hurricanes when he would race to the shore to watch the
epic waves roll in. John saw the amazing in the ordinary, and he often delighted in showing his
nieces how the most mundane rock in in his collection would glow with intense fluorescent
colors under blacklight. An intrepid traveler in his twenties and thirties, John mountaineered
through the Alps of Europe (not missing a few beers in Germany for Oktoberfest, of course),
and regularly climbed the White Mountains of New Hampshire while hunting for garnets
embedded in the granite rocks of Mount Washington. In his earlier years, John also earned a
pilot’s license and loved flying small planes.
John inherited his wonderful mechanical ability from his father, Hans, and could work (and fix)
heavy machinery of all kinds. He helped build the Indian Point nuclear power plant in the 1970s,
and was a certified crane operator like his father for many years. He could also build just about
anything, and once constructed a cabin completely by hand out of massive railroad ties. John
retired from the State of New York after years of operating the locks on the Erie canal.
John had so many talents and interests, it’s impossible to list them all. He could make a mean
sauerbraten, he loved fireworks of every kind and always found the slightest excuse to set them
off, and he could move tons of rock by hand to search for Herkimer diamonds, which he then
freely gave away. John played piano and loved classical music, and had a beautiful singing voice.
He always knew when some interesting meteor shower or celestial event was happening, and
would call excitedly to tell us where and when to look up into the night sky to see them.
He also read the New York Times Science Section religiously, and whenever he learned
something new about trees communicating through their roots or something about ocean
currents, he enthusiastically shared it. John had a very special feeling for forests and trees, and
he would disappear into the California redwood groves in years past whenever he could get
John was also a treasure hunter of the first order, and he prided himself in finding the most
unusual items at tag and garage sales, which again he loved to share. Opening a Christmas or
birthday present from John was always an adventure. John’s sense of humor continued with
the many handmade cards he made for his friends and family. There was nothing else like
them: they were elaborate collages with photographs, drawings, colored pens and various dried
flowers or stones pasted inside, and always with warm and funny stories about his daily
encounters with the people and animals he loved.
But the part of John that will endure the most with us all was his enormous heart. John loved
animals (particularly dogs) and regularly handed out beautiful collars made by his niece Miriam
to people at his local dog park. He was known for naming each of the chipmunks that lived
around his apartment, and for carefully returning any struggling seahorse he found on the
shore back into the ocean. John drove a bus for years for the handicapped, and lovingly took
over the care of his parents in the last years of their lives. He was especially close to his older
sister, Louise Elling, throughout his life. His oldest sister, Antoinette, passed away in 2011.
John is survived by his sister Louise, nieces Miriam and Elizabeth Cerutti, and cousins Regina
Gloeggler and her wonderful children, Terry, Elizabeth and Maria. A celebration of John’s life
will is scheduled for Monday, October 9, 2023 at Christ the King Church in Albany at 10:30 am.
In leu of flowers, the family invites you to consider donating to the Maryknoll Sisters of Ossining,
New York, or to the Albany Humane Society, and to spend some time in the great outdoors
appreciating our natural world.
Memorial service will be held Monday 10/09/23 at 10:30 AM at Christ The King Church. 20 Sumpter Ave. Westmere, N.Y.
For those unable to attend in person, service will be live streamed at http://www.ctkparishny.org.