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MARY CADE, 1926 – 2007

She Adopted The Whole Town

By Jeanne Sager
HORTONVILLE — August 10, 2007 — The fact that Mary Cade never had children is a mere technicality; instead she adopted the whole town.
She put the overhead door in the Upper Delaware Volunteer Ambulance Corps headquarters.
She put the boiler in the Methodist church.
She heated the hall at the Delaware Youth Center too.
“And she bought so many things in the kitchen we named it Mary Cade’s kitchen,” Youth Center President Tess McBeath said.
She put shirts on the backs and shoes on the feet of the thousands who walked through Cade’s, the dry goods store Mary ran with husband Tillson until 1971.
Born in Callicoon and raised on a farm in Damascus, Pa. overlooking the hamlet, Mary Graby Cade was first and foremost a Callicoon girl.
“Her motto, as long as I knew her, was ‘We earned our living in Callicoon, and I want to put it back in,’” said Clarence Kratz, a longtime volunteer at the Youth Center.
If money came up short for a church or civic group in the Callicoon area, chances are Cade came to the rescue.
But try to put a number on it, and you come up empty-handed.
“She didn’t want to be slapped on the back for things,” Kratz said. “There’s so much she did she was very quiet about.”
Ironically, Cade was best known for being outspoken.
When her mind was made up, Cade pointed her bony index finger and told it like it was.
Even her dearest friends were frank.
“She was nosy,” Ann Theadore said with a laugh. “If she wanted to know, she came right out and asked you.”
Some would call that nosy.
Helen Hartz calls it caring.
Hartz moved to Hortonville as a widow with a teenage daughter in tow.
Cade was her neighbor, and soon her friend.
In more recent years, the two widows leaned on one another for help.
Hartz relied heavily on Cade, she said.
“She’d watch to see if a certain light was on over here, she’d call me,” Hartz said. “It’s just a terrible loss for us.
“She knew more about people here on the block than we did!”
Hartz’s sister Eleanor Olsen met Cade in the first grade at the school in Callicoon.
They spent the next 12 years together, graduating in 1944 with a class of about 14.
It was a fluke that the two ended up living next door to one another for 40 years, but a fortunate one at that.
“She was so vibrant… and fun,” Olsen said sadly.
If Eleanor and husband Harvey were throwing a dinner party, people would ask “Is Mary coming?” she recalled.
“She was just the life of the party.”
And any excuse to throw one was welcome.
Olsen and Hartz have two other sisters, but they threw an “adoption ceremony” for Mary, making her an unofficial fifth Kohl sister.
Olsen’s daughter Deanna drew up a legal-looking certificate and a list of rules, among them,“you have to learn to bake 25 different kinds of Christmas cookies,” and “you have to learn to accept cat hair as a condiment.”
Cade laughed and laughed, Olsen recalled.
And when she laughed, Cade chortled.
She guffawed.
She let it rise from her belly, and if the mood struck, she’d slap her knee.
“People liked being with Mary,” Hartz explained.
And Cade liked people.
A year out of high school, she married Tillson Cade and the couple took over her parents farm in Damascus.
By 1959, they’d sold the farm and moved to Hortonville, and set up shop in what is now the 1906 Restaurant in Callicoon, selling dry goods.
When the store closed, Mary took other jobs to stay busy.
She waitressed at the Villa Roma and the old Autumn Inn, cleaned rooms at the Villa.
She once told McBeath she “retired from paid employment” in 1979, which didn’t mean she stopped working.
For 25 years, when a call went out over the radio for a volunteer to answer a medical call, Cade hopped in the car with Art Tenbus and away they went.
They were mainstays of the Upper Delaware Ambulance Corps in the days when the organization was funded purely by donations, and Cade spent countless hours shaking the donation cans.
Longtime corps volunteer Walt Sipple remembers having to tell Cade they were going to the municipalities to ask for a special taxing district for the corps.
She elicited a promise that the tax would never go too high, and Sipple said he’s ever mindful as the corps crafts a budget.
The corps missed Cade when she stepped down – which she did only after she was satisfied that it would continue without her, Sipple said with a laugh.
“Mary was a very special person,” he said sadly. “Mary Cade was definitely a person who did it for her community.
“She believed this community gave her a lot, and she wanted to give back more than she took.”
Cade was a charter member of the Grover Hermann Hospital Auxiliary, a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of equal access to healthcare in the rural community.
She spent almost two decades as the organization’s president, and until recently was still a volunteer at the hospital.
“She was a very strong worker,” Theadore said. “And she knew what that hospital needed.”
And Cade wasn’t afraid to ask.
She had the ear of every administrator to walk through Grover Hermann, and she kept at them to ensure her hospital had the best of everything.
“They start talking closing that hospital, and Mary went to the oven and started baking cakes,” Sipple quipped.
When the rumors were floating, when the main division of what is now Catskill Regional Medical Center zoomed in on the financials, Cade bit back.
She was a driving force behind the meetings about the hospital’s fate.
The first one, held at the Youth Center (in the hall also named for Hermann), brought out so many people that many visitors lined the sidewalks and peered in the back door.
Donations poured in, and under Cade’s leadership, the auxiliary worked to make improvements that would bring more patients into the facility.
“Mary could add, subtract; she just had a mind for business,” said Elizabeth Eschenberg Newman, a classmate of Cade’s who has kept in touch from her home in Rye over the 60-some years since graduation.
Newman’s husband and Cade’s were first cousins, and the women got on like a house afire when Newman came back to Callicoon for a visit.
“She was just a good person,” Newman said simply. “She was as dependable as they come.”
For almost 40 years, people knew Cade was going bowling twice a week.
They knew if they saw her at the Callicoon Street Fair with raffle tickets in hand, they had better buy one or she’d talk their ear off.
Usually they bought them, and while they filled out the vital details, Cade talked away.
Theadore knew it was time when cancer left her friend bed-ridden, unable to speak or laugh.
Mary Cade died Monday, in a room at her beloved Grover Hermann Hospital, at 81.
Her formal obituary lists nieces, nephews and other relatives who survive her.
But people who knew Cade know the list is incomplete.
Mary Cade is survived by the people of Callicoon.

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