Capt. John Edward Cridland, USN (Retired), passed away at the age of 97 on July 22, 2013, at Nathan Littauer Hospital Nursing Home in Gloversville, N.Y.
"Jack" was born on January 13, 1916, in Johnstown, N.Y., to John J. and Mary Flynn Cridland. He grew up in Johnstown, N.Y., graduating as salutatorian from Johnstown High School in 1933. Following high school, John attended Middlebury College in Vermont, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1938. John was noted as being outstanding in athletics and campus activities. During his summers at Middlebury, he worked at the Bread Loaf School of English and had the distinction of studying with poet Robert Frost. He then attended the New York State Teachers' College in Albany, where in 1941 he was awarded a master of arts degree and teaching certificate.
John married Margaret Kathleen (Kay) Sammons in 1940 in Johnstown, N.Y., residing for many of their 73 years together in Sammonsville, where they raised their four children.
John was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy in March of 1943 and attended Mine Warfare School. He was assigned as Executive Officer (XO) of Yard Mine Sweeper (YMS) 17 and deployed to the Mediterranean area of operations. There he was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) and took command of the YMS 17 in the Mediterranean, where they cleared mines and at one point engaged in an intense battle with shore batteries at Montone, France. As the hostilities lessened in Europe, he was transferred to the Pacific Theater of Operation and took command of the Ocion Mine Sweeper (OMS) USS Bouyant until released from active duty in the spring of 1946. In 1950, as the Korean War broke out, he volunteered to return to active duty and was promoted to lieutenant commander. He additionally held the position of commodore of Mine Group 44 until he was released from active duty late in 1953. John retired with the permanent rank of Navy captain in 1970.
John served as both school superintendant and principal at Oppenheim school from 1938-1941. He taught at Fonda schools from 1946-1950. From 1954-1959, he was employed in the Hydrographic department at the Naval Depot in Scotia, N.Y., and in a GS capacity at Griffiths AFB from 1960-1971. After retiring from Griffiths in 1971, he returned to teaching at Oppenheim-Ephratah School until retirement in 1986 at the age of 70.
John was one of the founders of the Sammonsville Volunteer Fire Department and served as its first fire chief from 1946-1947. He was a longtime first aid instructor for the American Red Cross, teaching many of the new ambulance corps members for different organizations that were forming. In 1961, he joined the Royal Mountain Ski Patrol, and in 1968 was appointed National Ski Patrol No. 3336. In addition to patrolling, he served as Winter Emergency Care instructor, lift evacuation instructor and senior sled (toboggan) tester. In 1974, he was qualified as an emergency medical technician (EMT), adding to the resources of the patrol and his community. For his 38 years of dedication to Royal Mountain and its ski patrol, the trail "Captain Jack" was named in his honor.
John enjoyed working out, including swimming, long walks, hunting and paddling canoes in long-distance races. As a young man he set out to walk to Boston to see an uncle and kept a journal along the way. Charles Lindbergh was his boyhood hero, and at 70 years of age John took up flying, receiving his pilot's license.
John is survived by his spouse, Kathleen, of Clifton Park, N.Y.; daughter, Michaele Beyer (Paul) of Ocala, Fla.; daughter, Nancy O'Leary (Edward) of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; son, Brian Cridland (Sue) of Caroga Lake; son, Sean Cridland (Sandra One Feather), of Jemez Springs, N.M.; his grandchildren, Heather O'Leary, Meg O'Leary Estevadeordal (Jordi), Kyle Cridland (Tiffany), Erin Cridland; his great-grandchildren, Laia and Mireia Estevadeordal; and his nieces, nephews, and other relatives.
John was preceded in death by parents, John and Mary; brothers, Colonel William Cridland, USAF, and CPO Robert Cridland, USN; and an infant grandson, Patrick Cridland.
He will be remembered by his family for being a good provider, a loving husband, a caring and supportive father. Throughout his life he was recognized as an exceptional teacher.
He played a mean game of dominos and will be remembered by his grandchildren as eating his Christmas Eve dinner much too slowly!
Visitation for friends and family will be held Thursday, July 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the A.G. Cole Funeral Home Inc., 215 East Main Street, Johnstown.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Friday, July 26, at noon at the Holy Trinity Church, Glebe Street, Johnstown.
Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery, Fonda.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to the Royal Mountain Ski Patrol, c/o Bob Sullivan, 2784 State Highway 10, Johnstown, NY 12095.
Condolences to the family may be made online by visiting our website at www.agcolefuneralhome.com.