Gerald J. (Jerry) Fordham, age 86, of Salamanca, New York died Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Buffalo General Hospital, Buffalo, New York.
Born February 23, 1928 in Binghamton, New York he was the son of the late Daniel and Claire Rogalski Fordham. He was married in the former St. Patrick’s Church on August 4, 1956, to the former Barbara Poydock, who predeceased him on December 26, 2009.
Mr. Fordham attended schools in Hornell, Olean, and Jamestown, New York graduating from Jamestown High School in 1946. He graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 1950 with a B A in History. In 1970, he was awarded a MA in History from St. Bonaventure University.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1950 until 1956, spending 2 years active duty with the Provost Marshall’s Office at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and 4 years reserve duty with the Civil Government Reserve Unit in Jamestown, New York.
Mr. Fordham was employed in various positions by the former Erie Railroad from 1944 until 1958. He was an agent at Lewis Run. Pennsylvania at the time of his leaving the railroad. He worked in the Traffic Department of the former Kendall Refining Company in Bradford, PA from 1958 until 1967. In 1967 he joined the faculty of Salamanca Central High School where he taught Social Studies retiring in 1987. During his educational career he pursued graduate studies not only at St. Bonaventure University, but also at Northeastern University, Boston, MA; University of Colorado at Boulder; University of Oregon at Monmouth and John Carroll College in Cleveland, Ohio. In New York State, he pursued graduate studies at Canisius , Pace University, Union College, and State University at Albany.
Following his retirement from teaching, he became associated with the Salamanca Rail Museum serving at various times as Director, Chairman of the Board of the Salamanca Rail Museum Association and President of Friends of the Salamanca Rail Museum. He was editor of the popular series Tracks from the Past which appeared regularly in the Salamanca Press. He was co-editor with Kevin Burleson of the popular book Life on the Rails published by the Salamanca Press. He also produced the annual calendar for the museum as well as the quarterly newsletter The Junction Express published by the Friends of the Salamanca Railroad Museum.
Mr. Fordham was active in church affairs where he served in various capacities at St. Patrick’s Church including the Parish Council, Eucharistic Minister, and Lector. He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Holy Name Society and the Mr. & Mrs. Club. He was chairman of the Bingo Committee and served for several years as chairman of the Large Gifts Division of the Parish’s Catholic Charities Drive. He was a member of the Salamanca Rotary Club serving in various offices including president. He was a member of the New York State Retired Teacher’s Association as well as its Cattaraugus County Chapter. He was a strong advocate for labor unions. During his railroad career he was a member of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks and the Order of Railroad Telegraphers. During his teaching career, he was a member of the Salamanca Teachers Association, the New York State Education Association and the National Education Association. He was a member of several historical societies, the Salamanca Area Historical Society, the Allegany State Park Historical Society and the Western New York Association of Historical Agencies.
He was a member of the National Railroad Historical Society (Niagara Division) , the Erie-Lackawanna Historical Society, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Historical Society, the Western New York Railway Historical Society, the Locomotive & Railway Historical Society and the Pittsburgh, Shawmut, & Northern Railroad Historical Society.
As an advocate of a strong national railroad passenger network, Mr. Fordham was a member of the Empire State Passenger Association and the National Association of Railroad Passengers. He and his wife, Barbara, traveled by rail to all parts of United States and Canada, including Alaska.
He was active for a number of years in the Salamanca Area Chamber of Commerce as a Director and Treasurer. In 2012 he was awarded the “Star” award by the Salamanca Area Chamber of Commerce, a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mr. Fordham served for over 30 years on the Salamanca Library Commission as Secretary for most of his tenure.
He was a longtime member of the American Legion Hughes-Skiba Post #535 in Salamanca.
Surviving are: a daughter, Judith Herlihy, Henrietta, NY; 3 sons, Gerald (Collette) Fordham, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Daniel (Kristina) Fordham, Peru, NY, James Fordham, Charlotte, NC; 11 grandchildren and step grandchildren, William Herlihy, Sarasota, Florida, Kaeti (Eric) Manning, Cortland, New York, Lynn (Bruce) Heineman, Georgetown, Texas, Dennis (Shannon) Wiley, Syosset, New York, Samantha (fiance Jeffrey Bradley) Wiley, Henrietta, New York, Victoria Wiley, Austin, Texas, Evan Fordham & Julia Fordham, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Abby (fiance Matthew Turner) Fordham, Shane Fordham & Mark Fordham, all of Peru, New York ; 7 great-grandchildren, Carleen & Brooks Heineman, Delanie Herlihy, Reagan & Eliot Manning, and Declan Wiley; a sister, Patricia Heath, Jamestown, New York; many nieces and nephews; many friends at the Rail Museum; members of the Mr. & Mrs. Club; fellow Rotarians.
He was predeceased by a daughter, Elizabeth Wiley, 3 brothers, Daniel Fordham, Francis Fordham and Joseph Fordham.
Friends may attend a memorial visitation on Monday, August 25, 2014 from 4-7 P.M. in the O’Rourke & O’Rourke Inc. Funeral Home, 25 River Street, Salamanca, New York.
A Memorial Mass will be held on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 11 A.M. in Our Lady of Peace Parish with Rev. Patrick Melfi, pastor, officiating.
Burial will be in St. Bonaventure Cemetery, Allegany, New York.
E-condolences can be sent to email@example.com or posted to facebook.com/onofh.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials to the Salamanca Rail Museum, the Salamanca Public Library or Olean General Hospital as a way of honoring his life and long term commitment to the community in which he made his home for 65 years.