LAKE GEORGE - Friends and family members of the late John Lustyik, a retired state trooper, recalled his character and attributes this week, days after his passing on Dec. 14 at the age of 74.
Lustyik, a trooper for 32 years, was recently a freelance photographer for the Adirondack Journal.
About 16 troopers attended his wake, held Dec. 19 at Singleton-Healy Funeral Home in Queensbury -where two of the officers flanked his casket while dozens of friends and community members expressed their grief and recounted fond memories to Lustyik family members.
A contingent of uniformed state troopers also served as pall bearers at his funeral, held Dec. 20 at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Lake George. When Lustyik's flag-draped casket emerged from the church, Lustyik was given a ceremonial salute by the state police as well as officers of the Warren County Sheriff's Department.
These law enforcement officers also participated in Lustyik's burial services, held with full military honors at the Gerald Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.
At a reception held after the burial at Mario's Restaurant in Lake George, State Police Troop G Commander Major Bill Sprague, who worked with Lustyik for several years about two decades ago, talked about Lustyik's outstanding competence, knowledge and demeanor. Lustyik, a zone sergeant serving in the Wilton and Chestertown substations, helped train Sprague during a time he was undergoing a series of promotions.
"John Lustyik trained generations of state troopers," Sprague said. "He was beloved in Troop G's Zone 2, and held in high regard by everyone in the state police."
Zone 2 covers Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties.
Lustyik was always thoughtful for the troopers and their family members, Sprague said.
"John cared deeply about the welfare of the people working for him, whether it was providing weapons, equipment or relief for them," he said.
Sprague said Lustyik was thoughtful, polite and modest.
"John was one of the most even-tempered people I knew," he said.
Warren County Sheriff Bud York said Lustyik had impeccable integrity, and he passed down a large body of knowledge as he trained law officers. York was an investigator in the state police before he joined the sheriff's office.
"Many of us learned our craft from him," York said. "He commanded respect, but he never raised his voice."
York said Lustyik had great follow-though on his work.
"Whatever John did, you knew it was done right," York said.
His comments were echoed by Don Fangboner of Lake George, who shared with Lustyik an interest in history and antique weaponry.
Sprague said Lustyik had exemplary dedication to his career.
"John had a deep love for the state police - he was committed to our organization, heart and soul."
Sprague recalled the opening ceremonies for the Wilton state police substation in July 1992, and how Lustyik assembled a historical exhibit for the event, including photographs, artifacts, old firearms, blotter entries and uniforms through the years.
Lustyik arranged a similar, although smaller exhibit for the opening of the new Chestertown station several months ago.
John Gereau, managing editor of Denton Publications, hailed his photographic work for the Adirondack Journal as well as his trait of putting others' needs first.
"John Lustyik not only served others through his exemplary work in law enforcement, but his work during his retirement on behalf of our readers - connecting people with life around them through his photos," said Gereau.
At Lustyik's funeral, his children Sara Roberts and Gregory Lustyik offered their thoughts and memories.
"My father was a man who truly cared about everyone - [he was] an honest, polite and courteous person who would go out of his way for you at anytime, anywhere," Greg Lustyik said, noting he was honored to be the son of such a "gentle giant."
Sara Roberts recalled not only his thoughtfulness and generosity with others and his dedication to his family, but his love of good food, landscaping and photography - including his photojournalism work for the Adirondack Journal.
"I am sure all of you who knew my dad understand the depth of the loss of his kind and giving spirit is immeasurable," she said. "But his spirit will continue on in our hearts forevermore."