Harley Wilson Gamel, 84, of Herkimer, NY passed away June 17, 2021, after a short illness, under the care of Hospice, at Matthew House in Auburn NY. Born in Cortland, April 26, 1937 to Harley P. Gamel, and Helen Webster Gamel of Homer, he lived in both Cortland and Herkimer as a child but spend the majority of his teens and adult life in Cortland. He moved to Herkimer as a child with his mother and stepfather, Martin Keller of Herkimer, and moved back there again in 2010 until recently.
Harley proudly served his country for 6 years in the US Air Force, both domestically and in England. In 1988 he retired as a paid firefighter for the Cortland Fire Dept after 20 years of service. He thoroughly enjoyed serving alongside the dedicated men he respected and thought of as brothers. Bringing fire safety awareness to schools and the community was something he looked forward to, and as a professional house painter on the side, was often teaching the trade to challenged youth and adults to help improve their lives.
His devotion to the City of Cortland was also well known through his volunteer work with the Elks Club, Cortland Library and the Cortland Community Service Club. His willingness to help extended beyond his community when he chose to drive to New Orleans for 3 weeks to help firefighters and volunteers serve meals, deliver water, and help with clean up, immediately following Hurricane Katrina.
Until recently, he was a runner his entire life, participating in races and marathons, enjoyed golf, reading and gardening and meeting up with friends. His greatest passion was skiing. He logged many hours as a volunteer National Ski Patroller for 40 + years and served mainly at Greek Peak for decades, Squaw Valley, Sunlight, and other areas around the country. It was hard work but he loved it. He was the first trained EMT in the county many years ago. Two highlights in his skiing career was being selected ski patroller for the Winter Special Olympics and being selected to patrol for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. A personal highlight was sitting with his family, cheering the Men’s Ice Hockey team to their Olympic victory against Russia during that historic national event.
Harley was an active participant of the 1st Baptist Church of Herkimer before it closed. He often said he was thankful to God to serve his country and community, and live life fully with passion and zest. He is survived by his daughter Ann Marie (Gamel) Adams of Camillus, and grand-daughter Brianna Adams (Zech); his son, Sam Gamel-Mancini (Didi), of Denver Colorado, grand-daughter Isabella and grandson, Maximus; several cousins, and many great friends.
The family invites you to any of the following celebrations of life: Tues, July 13 at the Cortland Elks Lodge at 3pm, with a firefighter honor ceremony/ memorial service to commence at 4pm. Herkimer area friends may call on the family, Thursday, July 15 from 9:30-10am at the historic Fort Herkimer Church, Mohawk, NY with memorial service at 10am. A short military honor burial will take place the same day at 4pm at the Sampson National Veterans Cemetery (previously Sampson AF Base) in Romulus NY – where Harley’s military career began in 1953. In Lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to either The Gathering Place (North Syracuse Baptist Church 420 South Main St, N. Syracuse NY 13212) or the Cortland Community Service Club, 44 Levydale Park Cortland NY 13045.
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