ILION – Mr. Roger J. Vandawalker, age 73, a lifelong Ilion resident, passed away unexpectedly on Monday morning, September 30, 2019. At the time of his passing he had the support and dedication of his loving wife, Pam, at his side.
Born on September 15, 1946, Roger was a son to the late Leon and Marion (Steele) Vandawalker. He was raised and educated locally, graduating with the Ilion High School Class of 1964. He then went on to further his education at Mohawk Valley Community College and at SUNY IT, before enlisting with United States Navy.
Roger honorably served his country during the Vietnam Era, conducting goodwill tours and achieving the rank of Aviation Electronics Technician (ASW) Petty Officer Third Class and receiving his honorable discharge on October 3, 1969. Roger always remained a proud veteran and patriot of the United States.
Upon return from his military service, Roger met and fell in love with the former Pamela A. Pokorny. On August 25, 1972, the two were wed and recently celebrated forty-seven years of a marriage filled with love, devotion, and respect for one another.
Hardworking by nature, Roger was employed with Lockheed Martin (formerly Martin Marietta, formerly GE) for over twenty-five years as a Microelectronic Technician in the Engineering Lab. He was a jack of all trades at home as well and there wasn’t much he couldn’t fix, including a white 1977 MGB that he restored and enjoyed for years to come.
Roger could best be described as the strong, silent type, and all-around cool guy. He was extremely intelligent and could be found doing puzzles and Sudoku daily to exercise his mind. He also enjoyed history, genealogy, and ancestry; going so far as to trace his family’s roots back to the 17th Century. At the time of his death, he was actively looking for the lost Vandawalker cemetery in Western, NY.
Golf was an outlet for Roger for relaxation, enjoyment, and a round of drinks with his friends. He regularly played the game whenever he could and once achieved every amateur golfer’s dream: a hole-in-one, which occurred at Quail Creek Golf Club in Conway, SC on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009. Besides golf, Roger was also an avid sports enthusiast, rooting for the Syracuse Orangemen, NY Giants, and never missing a NY Yankees ball game.
Roger and Pam were extremely blessed with their children, grandchildren, and extended family; an extended family that did not stop at only relatives. They had a wonderful group of friends that they spent a lot of their time with. For the last nine years their winters in the south were spent with an amazing and supportive group of friends. These memories and the values that Roger instilled to his family will be his lasting legacy.
Roger is survived by his beloved wife of 47 years, Pam; his daughters, Rebecca Vandawalker and Shawn Bell of Liverpool and Melissa Vandawalker and Brian Bacheller of Waltham, MA; his son, Roger J. Vandawalker, II and wife, Katie of Alexandria, VA; and his grandchildren, Brendan Rice and Carson Rice, along with grandson #3, Baby Boy Vandawalker, on the way. He also leaves his sister, Virginia Vandawalker of Ilion; brother-in-law, Kenneth Pokorny of East Herkimer; sister-in-law, Kathie Vandawalker of Herkimer; his godchildren, Debra and Dave; along with numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and countless friends that he made throughout the years.
Roger was predeceased by his brother, Ralph Vandawalker in 2001 and his sister, Jean Runyon in 2018.
Friends and relatives are invited to attend calling hours on Friday, October 4, 2019 from 3:00PM – 5:00PM at the Enea & Ciaccia Family Funeral Home, 4309 Acme Road, Town of Frankfort, Ilion, NY (315) 894-8000. Members of the Ilion Elks’ Lodge are asked to gather at the funeral home at 4:45PM to perform their ritualistic service. Roger’s funeral service and Celebration of Life will commence at the funeral home at 5:00PM immediately upon the conclusion of visitation with Bishop Dan Herzog of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church officiating. Private interment will take place at Armory Hill Cemetery at the convenience of Roger’s family.
The family would like to thank the staff at the Veterans Affairs medical centers in Syracuse, Rome, Albany, and Charleston.
For those wishing to do so, please consider memorial contributions to the Fisher House, 113 Holland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home.
Roger’s final arrangements have been entrusted to Harry and Kevin Enea and Martin L. Ciaccia, Funeral Directors of the Enea & Ciaccia Family Funeral Home. Online notes of sympathy may be left at www.eneafamily.com.