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10/19/2017 9:00:00 AM
Cemetery's anniversary sparks fond memories

Ss. Cyril and Method Cemetery in Rotterdam is celebrating its 100th anniversary Oct. 21, 10 a.m., with a special Mass celebrated by Rev. O. Robert DeMartinis and a reception.

Ss. Cyril and Method parish and cemetery were established in 1917, with many parishioners of Slovakian heritage. The parish cemetery spanned 18 acres and was managed by the parish until 1987; now, it is overseen by Albany Diocesan Cemeteries.

The first burial in the cemetery noted in interment records was for Ludmilla Ralbovsky, age 18 months. She died Sept. 1, 1917; a modest stone marks her family's gravesite. Rev. James Benish presided at the last funeral out of Ss. Cyril and Method parish, which was for Paul Wahl, who died Jan. 29, 1979, at the age of 83. 

When Catholics in the Albany Diocese were asked to share stories about loved ones buried in Ss. Cyril and Method Cemetery, as well as photographs and other memories to be featured as part of the centennial Mass, one anonymous Catholic posted this story.

"My summer job from 1964-'66 was working for superintendent John Gadus at Ss. Cyril and Method Cemetery. It was my first job and my favorite job. Although all we did was mow the grass, pick weeds from around the stones and gab with the gravedigger, Bob Loehr, it nonetheless seemed like the deal of a lifetime.

"John Gadus was quite the character. He rode his bicycle from his home on 6th Ave. to the cemetery. He felt the need to impart much of his wisdom to us high school kids. He was proud of having served in World War II and made you feel at home, and made certain that you came away with and understanding and appreciation of your Slovak heritage.

"On Fridays, the work venue switched to the church, where we mopped floors and cleaned other areas. If he felt you did your fair share of work, you got a soft drink from the bar area of the bowling alley that was underneath the parish hall. At season's end, you got to bowl one game, with John acting as pin boy.

"John lived his faith and taught us to serve, not to be served. Whatever you thought about your time spent working with John, it was assured it was an experience you would never forget. How fitting it is that John is buried in a place he loved, St. Cyril's Cemetery -- one of the first graves on the right at the main entrance."

(For information on the centennial ceremony, contact 518-374-5319 or info@rcdacemeteries.org .)

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