WARRENSBURG - Former Town Supervisor Calvin Engle, a man who was known for his unparalleled civic involvement, was fondly remembered by community leaders this week following his funeral Monday, Feb. 14.
Engle, 86, who operated landmark local businesses and served an active role in 18 local organizations, died Feb. 10 at Tri-County Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in North Creek.
Hours after the funeral, town supervisor Kevin Geraghty said Engle was for many decades a pillar of the community and had touched many lives through his involvement.
"All Cal's actions in the organizations he worked in were always for the betterment of the community," Geraghty said.
As town supervisor in the mid-1980s, Engle was credited for moving the town government forward into the modern era - primarily by initiating zoning and planning efforts, advocating intermunicipal cooperation, and launching work towards responsible sewage waste disposal.
Engle also served the nation as a soldier in World War II, enlisting with the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942 and serving with distinction until 1945. At that point, he returned to Warrensburg and operated Cal's Diner from 1946 until 1962, when he and his wife, Jeannette, inaugurated Engle's Department Store. They owned and operated this enterprise - the only locally based dry goods store in the area - until 1988.
Engle led the community forward
Cal Engle was elected to the Warrensburg Town Board in 1979, and served in the post from 1980 through 1983, when he was elected town supervisor. He served in that post for two, two-year terms.
Former Town Attorney Robert Farrell, who had advised Engle and helped organize his campaigns, said the former supervisor had an unprecedented influence on the future direction of the town.
"Cal Engle provided an opening into a more sophisticated form of governance in the community," he said, noting Engle had initiated movements toward zoning, health and land-use regulations that now protect a high quality of life in town. "Cal listened to many ideas, and he implemented the ideas he felt were good for the community."
Farrell recalled that Engle was able to accomplish so much because he listened to everyone and weighed their opinions with openness and diplomacy.
"Cal brought various elements in town together, and he accomplished a tremendous amount for the town," Farrell added. "He continued to serve the community after he left office, not only through various organizations, but as an individual."
Engle memorialized in services
Engle's civic involvement was honored by the services that a half-dozen organizations conducted during his calling hours, held Sunday afternoon at the Alexander-Baker Funeral Home. The wake drew hundreds to pay their respects.
Officials of the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Co., Lake George Fire Department, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4821, American Legion Post 446, the Warrensburg Masons, and Knights of Columbus, all honored Engle by conducting, in full dress uniforms, individual services of respect, funeral home employee Kate McGinn said.
"It was really touching," she said.
Monday's ceremonies honoring Engle began at the funeral home with respects paid by the two fire companies. The firefighters viewed a video tribute featuring photographs of Engle's life prepared by Dave Alexander. The photographs depicted Engle's military career, firefighting service, family vacations, and business and political career.
Engle's remains were then transported in a hearse in a solemn procession south down Main Street - with the roadway cleared of traffic and firefighters marching in full dress - to the municipal park named in his honor. The procession then reversed course and ended at St. Cecilia's Church, where the funeral was held.
Two of Engle's sons, Brian and Steve, offered eulogies. Cal's granddaughter Bryana offered reminiscences relating to a wicker basket she had filled with her grandfather's mementos, awards and personal items - and told how each item told a story about her father. Donna Engle, Brian's wife, offered a scripture.
Steve Engle thanked the funeral attendees for participating in the services that celebrated his father's life.
"I am sure Dad would have been pleased with the outpouring of support from the many individuals and organizations," he said. "Cal lived a full life, enjoyed work and working with people for the betterment of the town."
Brian Engle also thanked the mourners.
"I was so impressed with all the organizations my father was a member of - but he always made time for his family, himself and anyone else who needed him," he said. "He was the most caring, generous person anyone could have met, and he will be deeply missed by so many. He loved Warrensburg."
Following the funeral, a reception was held at the Warrensburg Masonic Lodge.
Engle's burial will be held this spring with full military honors in St. Cecilia's Cemetery, Warrensburg.