Jeanne Sager | Democrat
LLOYD AND DOLORES Bassney amidst the playground at the Delaware Youth Center in Callicoon.
In their capable hands…
By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON For seven years, they’ve taken care of every kid in Callicoon.
They’ve cleaned up the aftermath of three major floods, several more smaller flooding events.
They’ve helped build playgrounds and prepare for seven tractor parades.
And during all that time, Lloyd and Dolores Bassney were technically retired.
As of September 1, it’s more than technical.
The best caretakers the Delaware Youth Center has ever had a credit straight from the mouth of long-time board member Madolin Tenbus the Bassneys moved out at the end of August in hopes that they can actually, well, retire.
Originally residents of the area, the Bassneys moved to Florida in the ’70s where Lloyd worked for an electrical supply house and Dolores jokes she was “an at-home goddess.”
With one child still up here in Sullivan County, they decided to move back seven years ago to retire.
That’s when they heard there was a house already in move-in condition. It was rent-free, with one condition you help out around the yard.
That yard, of course, was the youth center, a sprawling facility that includes not just lawns to mow but Grover Hermann Hall to clean, playgrounds to keep up and more.
The Bassneys’ first said no they didn’t want to take on a pool. But then came word that pool duties were separate. Would they reconsider?
They would, and they did.
They moved in and took over the grounds just as the youth center began to right itself from financial distress with the help of a generous community. The Bassneys once again became part of the community where they once lived, where Lloyd once hauled the mail from Monticello to New York City.
“It’s been satisfying and rewarding,” Dolores said of the job. “We found out how great this community really is they’re so generous, helpful and friendly.
“The floods brought out the best in everybody.”
They brought out something in the Bassneys too a staying spirit like no other.
“We were in Florida with our threat of hurricanes and nothing ever came,” Dolores recalls.
“We come here and we have seven floods!” she added with a laugh.
In the wake of the floods, the Bassneys worked alongside community volunteers to rehabilitate the fields and build a new pavilion.
But when the volunteers went back to their day jobs, the Bassneys were still there, working tirelessly to prepare the youth center for another day of swinging on swings and shagging balls on the diamond.
“It’s honey do this and honey do that, only I get it from all over the place,” Lloyd says with a laugh. “It’s rewarding, I’ve had people meet me on the street and say this place has never looked this good old-timers.”
“They’ve done so much in the seven years they’ve been there,” Tenbus said. “We’ve never had caretakers like them they didn’t just do a job. They see things and they do them…”
The youth center has been looking for a new caretaker while the Bassneys prep their new home in Hortonville they’re not going far, although it will enable them to spend time with their two children, their three grandkids, their five great-grandkids.
“It’s a 24/7 responsibility, and we’d kind of like to retire,” Dolores said with a grin. “So we can spend a little of our old age traveling!”
The youth center won’t be losing them entirely they’ll be volunteering at the kids parties, still taking care of Callicoon’s kids.