Saturday, August 27, 2011

Charlie LaFever - A Remembrance of a Bovina Boy

Today would have been my dear ole Dad's 80th birthday, so I thought I'd present a brief biography about Charlie LaFever in pictures (click on each image to see a larger version of it).

Ironically, though he lived in Bovina all his life, he was not born there.  Dad was born in Delhi on August 27, 1931, at the Delhi Hospital, at that time located on Franklin Street.  He was the first member of his family to have been born in a hospital.

This picture was a surprise when I found it - it's the only photograph that I've found of my dad with his great grandfather Burns.  Left to right:  Howard LaFever (his brother); Alex Burns (about aged 84 in this photo); John Burns (Alex's son and the father of Agnes Burns); my dad; and the man holding him is his father Ben LaFever.

This is a first day of school picture dating from 1937. 
This is dad's senior portrait.  He seems kind of somber in this one, as compared to his first day of school picture.  He told me years later that he was tired of school by the time he graduated.  His mother offered to pay for him to go to college, but he declined because he didn't relish more schooling!  The text from the yearbook under his picture:

One of those Bovina boys--industrious--goes out for rifle club--pleasant--D.A.'s Einstein--pretty fair shot--gun or firecrackers.
Slice Rule Club (3); Cross Country (3); Junior Play; Rifle Club (4)

For whatever reason, he did not choose this picture for the yearbook - but I like that grin!

My dad started dating my mom, Leona Edwards, a month or so before he graduated high school.  He wanted to get married but his parents wanted him to be 19 before he did so.  Two days after his 19th birthday, on August 29, 1950, he married my mom at his parents house in Bovina.  In this picture are mom's mom, Dulcy Edwards; my mom; my dad; and dad's parents, Anna Bell and Ben LaFever.  Note the wall of ferns behind everyone.  Anytime we were in the woods where there were ferns, he said the smell reminded him of his wedding day.

Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2000 at a party at Lake Jillienne in Bovina.  Left to right - Patrick Hughes, Ray LaFever, Diane LaFever, Adam Hughes, Leona LaFever, Charlie LaFever, Susan Hughes, Gary Hughes.

Dad's love of tinkering led him to study TV and Radio repair.  He received his certification from the National Radio Institute in "Television and Radio Servicing" on August 19, 1954.  He ran Bovina Video, which provided very basic cable television service to residents of the Bovina Center hamlet.  He sold it to Delhi Telephone in 2000.

Dad had another passion from an early age - aviation.  He soloed when he was 16 and got his license in the late 50's.  He usually flew from Cooperstown-Westfield airport and made regular flights until the late 70s, when the press of business as town supervisor prevented him from flying.

Dad worked for 40 years for LaFever Excavating, founded by his brother Howard.  He retired in 1994, with a party hosted by his nephew and President of LaFever Excavating, John LaFever, on August 21.

Dad got involved with the town of Bovina in the 70s, when he was appointed to the town planning board.  He was elected to the Town Board in 1975 and in 1977, he was elected Town Supervisor.  He would be supervisor for the next 24 years, retiring at the end of 2001.

As Town Supervisor, Dad also served on the County Board of Supervisors.  He was chair of the public works committee for many years and was Vice Chairman of the board later in his term and at his retirement.  He was instrumental in the development of the county's state of the art co-composting facility, which opened in 2005.
Delaware County's Board of Supervisors gives a "hats off" to the ARC Bike-A-Thon by donning the biker's caps of the non-profits 18th annual event held May 4, 1991.  Town Supervisors (left to right) Howard J. Nichols (Stamford), Thomas S. Hynes (Roxbury), Walter Johnson (Sidney), Perry Shelton (Tompkins), Gary L. Manning (Hamden), Lee W. Conklin (Deposit), Raymond M. Christensen (Davenport), F. Gerald Mackin (Hancock), Velma J. Clark (Delhi), Alan L. Rose (Middletown), Frank Bachler (Meredith), William Sunkenberg (Andes), Richard T. Little (Harpersfield), Charles R. LaFever (Bovina,) Donald L. Kerr (Kortright), John F. Thomas (Masonville), Donald Smith (Franklin), William I. Hammond (Walton), Robert A. Homovich (Colchester)

Dad retired as Town Supervisor at the end of 2001.  He was diagnosed with colon cancer in April 2002 and after a valiant fight, passed away on January 24, 2004.  This is the last picture of me with my folks, taken at the end of December 2003. The chairs were a Christmas gift that year from my folks' dear neighbor and friends, Brian and Marcia Olenych.

At the time of his passing, Dad was Bovina's town historian.  I was honored to assume the position in the spring of 2004 and have enjoyed it very much, but there are times when a historical question or issue comes up that I really wish I had my dear ole Pa around to help.  

He always will be sorely missed but fondly remembered.


  1. Happy Birthday, Mr. Supervisor, Charlie.
    And, thanks for another great story, Ray! Your Dad was one of Bovina's, and this County's, greatest citizens. "Whiskey-Abel-Two-Quebec-Oboe-Tango" and, Amen. Tim

  2. Happy posthumus birthday to Charlie! Your Dad certainly lives on in you, Ray. You resemble him very much and you have continued his passion for Bovina's history, much to all of our enlightenment! Thanks for the memories.

  3. Ray, these are great pictures and its a great history of your dad. Larry Karam

  4. Tim reminded me that I forgot another of dad's many passions - ham radio - WA2QOT. He learned his morse code (which was required back then to get your license) from Burt Tator. I loved hearing him trying to find people and it was amazing to hear voices from so far away. I have all the postcards he collected over the years from people he contacted.