Boonville- Harlan K. “Harky” Bellinger, 86, husband of Jane, passed away in the comfort of his residence, while surrounded the loving care of his wife, family and hospice, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017.
Affectionately known as “Harky,” he was a native and life resident of Boonville, who was born on December 29, 1930, a son of Kenneth H. and Marion Freeman Bellinger. Harky received his education at Boonville Central School, later earning his GED while serving his country in the U.S. Army, from December, 1951, until his honorable discharge in November, 1953. While serving in the army, during the Korean Conflict era, Harky was stationed in the United States, and in Austria, serving as a general typist and file clerk.
On February 9, 1951, Harky married the love of his life, Jane Sage, at the First Presbyterian Church Manse, in Boonville. This was a loving union of two hardworking people which endured for 66 years.
During his sophomore year in high school, Harky began his employment and his long career in the dairy products business by working as a milk deliveryman for Ike D. Barnard, owner of the Barnard Dairy Plant on Post St. in Boonville. In January, 1951, Mr. Barnard sold his dairy product business to Mr. Earl Mercer; after Harky’s military service, he became employed for Mercer’s Dairy and Bakery, Boonville. Later, Mr. Bellinger became a partner in the Mercer’s Dairy and during his partnership the company grew into one of the largest dairy products and ice cream companies in central and upstate New York. In the later 1960’s Mercers constructed a new and large modern milk processing plant, ice cream factory and store on Rt. 12, near Boonville; this location quickly became a popular destination for people throughout central and upstate New York for ice cream and dairy products. In 2002, Harky retired from the dairy products business.
In 1957, Harky and Mr. Henry Gaffey founded a mobile ice cream stand and coined the name “Big Chief” for their popular Walk Away Sundaes which became a staple of ice cream treats for many years at the Boonville Oneida County Fair the N.Y.S. Woodsmen’s Field Days and at numerous other North Country field days and events. In later years Harky’s sons, Randy and Mark continued the operation of the Big Chief Stands at the fair and Woodsmen’s Field Days.
Many years ago Harky and Jane began serving on the Board of Directors of the Boonville Oneida Co. Fair. Later for several years, Harky served as Fair Vice President, before becoming Fair President in 2006, serving in that capacity until his illness began in the spring of 2008. During his tenure as Fair President, Harky was instrumental in the construction of a large and modern fairground dairy cattle display barn and a modern cattle and animal show building. Being an outgoing person, with a great wit and sense of humor, who loved people and furthering the welfare of others, Harky greatly enjoyed his years of association with the Boonville Fair and playing host to Governor George Pataki, on the occasion of his visit to the Boonville Oneida County Fair. Harky was a member of the New York State Agricultural Fair Association; for many years he and Jane greatly enjoyed attending the annual association convention. In 2016, Harky and Jane were named the Grand Marshalls of the annual Boonville Oneida County Fair Parade; he and Jane found great joy in riding in the parade. For many years, Harky also served on the New York State Woodsmen’s Field Days Board of Directors and he enjoyed being manager of the T Shirt and Woodsmen’s Memorabilia concession at the field days.
Mr. Bellinger possessed a longtime interest in local governmental affairs. In 1979, he was elected to the Town of Boonville Council; in 1986, he ran for and was elected to the position of Town of Boonville Supervisor, an office which he served in until 2005. During his tenure as Supervisor, Harky was chairman of the design and construction of the new and modern Town and Village of Boonville Office and Police Station building on Rt. 12.
Harky was a member, trustee and served on the Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Boonville. He was also a Charter Member of the Benevolent and Protective Order Elks Lodge, # 2158 of Boonville, a member of Boonville Masonic Lodge # 165 and a long time member and honorary member of Boonville Fire Department, a member of Charles J. Love Post American Legion, and the Harland J. Hennessey Post V.F.W. both of Boonville. He greatly enjoyed playing golf and was a member of the Thursday Morning Golf League for several years. For many years, Harky was a champion bowler, who was a long time member of the Sonny Evans Classic Bowling League, a member of the “700 Club” of Boonville Bowling Alley and he participated on many Boonville area bowling teams. Harky’s favorite volunteer memory was of his coaching Babe Ruth Baseball at the Boonville BYAA Field. He was also a contributor to Boonville’s Covered Bridge over the Canal project in Erwin Park. For many years he enjoyed hunting and playing cards with his friends at their Jackson Hill hunting area and at McKeever.
For many years, Harky and Jane enjoyed spending time during the winters visiting their many North Country friends in Florida, especially staying at Vero Beach.
Harky greatly loved his family and many friends. In addition to his loving wife, Jane, he is survived by his children; Randal “Randy” Bellinger and Mary, Boonville, Cynthia Bellinger, Rome and Mark (Lorie) Bellinger, Boonville. He was predeceased by his beloved son, Rick Bellinger on December 15, 2013. Also surviving are his cherished grandchildren; Mackenzie (Seth) Pfendler, Nathan (Monica) Bellinger, Tyler Lamb, Tyler Mowers and Bryan Mowers, and great grandchildren, Brooke, Caleb and Carson; his siblings, Vivan Brucker, Boonville, Derl Bellinger, Arizona and Ronald W. (Patricia) Bellinger, Boonville; and several nieces and nephews. Harky was predeceased by brothers and sisters, Matie Pfendler, Gary Bellinger, Douglas Bellinger, Evette O’Neal and Yvonne Nye.
His Funeral Service will be Saturday at 11:00 A.M. at Trainor Funeral Home, Inc. 143 Schuyler St. Boonville, where Rev. George Whitton, will officiate. Interment will be in the spring in Boonville Cemetery. Calling hours are Friday 1-4 P.M. and 6-8 P.M. at the funeral home. Memorial Contributions may be made to First Presbyterian Church of Boonville, P.O. Box 113, Boonville, NY 13309, or to a charity of your choice.