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Obituary of Joseph D. Putnam
On Wednesday evening, January 10, 2023, Joseph D. Putnam of Ilion passed away at the age of 89 at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, NY, with his loving family by his side. He was born in Oneonta on June 18, 1933, to the late Leo D. and Alice Putnam of Cherry Valley. The family moved to Ilion in 1941 when Joe’s father accepted a position at Remington Arms. Joe graduated from Ilion High School in 1951. He worked at the Ilion Sentinel while still in high school and continued as a full-time newspaper reporter at the Daily Press while attending Utica College full time in the evenings. Joe received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Syracuse University in 1956 and was immediately drafted into the United States Army, First Infantry Division. He was honorably discharged after serving as a sergeant. In January of 1959 he began his career in the Utica City School District at Roscoe Conkling School teaching English and later Social Studies. On May 28, 1960, Joe married the former Mary Tinkham of Homer, NY, who shared with him the teaching profession. Soon after, they added two daughters to the family, Karen and Katherine. Joe continued his education taking night courses, earning a Master’s Degree in Guidance Counseling in 1972 and becoming a guidance counselor at Seymour School. Soon after, he transferred to Kennedy High School in North Utica where he spent most of his career. This was an occupation he much enjoyed. He was proud of his work helping students apply for college admissions and financial aid. He retired in 1996 after a final year at UFA. Joe was very well read, reading books almost daily throughout his life. He followed sports including Giants football, Indy car racing and most especially his beloved New York Mets baseball team, whom he followed from their beginning in 1962. His favorite hobby was the study of his family history. Joe made many trips pursuing his research often bringing family members along with him to distant historical associations, cemeteries and the homes of distant relatives, eventually tracing the family into the 1500’s and writing histories of the various branches. He was especially proud of the ancestor whom he was named after who fought in the Revolutionary War. Joe loved his family deeply and was devoted to Mary and the girls. He also took excellent care of his mother during her 34 years as a widow. Watching his grandchildren grow up was the greatest joy in his later years, especially when Parkinson’s Disease slowed him down. He would just light up when he saw the kids. He always impressed upon them the importance of education. He believed that the love of learning and education were vital to transforming his life. He will be greatly missed by his devoted wife, Mary, who cared for him tirelessly during his final years. Joe is also survived by his daughters and their families: Karen and David Freed and their children, Jessica and Jonathan of Massachusetts, and Katherine and Michael Durant and their son, Gregory, who live across the street in Ilion; his sister and her husband, Dr. Bud and Carol Power of Parkersburg, WV; his in-laws: Margaret Watrous of Castle Creek, James and Michelle Tinkham of Cortland and John and Joan Tinkham of Mooresville, NC, as well as many nieces and nephews. Joe was predeceased by his parents, Leo and Alice Putnam; Mary’s parents, Russell and Marian Hudson Tinkham; two brothers-in-law and one sister-in-law, John and Barbara Bishop and Malcolm Watrous. He was also predeceased by cousins Bob Hooker, Bill Hooker and Bob Cullifer. There will be no calling hours. Private services will be held at the convenience of the family. For those wishing to do so, please consider memorial contributions to the Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758516, Topeka, KS 66675-8516 or online at support.woundedwarriorproject.org. Final arrangements have been entrusted to the Enea & Ciaccia Family Funeral Home, 4309 Acme Road, Town of Frankfort, Ilion, NY 13357.