SARANAC LAKE - Andrew J. Fortune Sr., 96, of 20 Church St., Saranac Lake, died Wednesday, April 18, 2012, at AMC-Uihlein Mercy Center in Lake Placid where he had been a resident since 2009.
Born in Saranac Lake on June 5, 1915, he was the son of Robert and Maude (Maloney) Fortune. Andrew married Alvera Mercedes Diego on Nov. 21, 1943, in St. John the Evangelist Church, Northfield, Vt. She predeceased him on March 5, 2005.
Andy was a lifelong resident of Saranac Lake. When he was 17, he left Saranac Lake for New York City where he became a draftsman. He returned home five years later and graduated with the 1936 graduating class of Saranac Lake High School. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942, attained the rank of Captain and was awarded his wings. Just before his B17 squadron was scheduled to leave for Europe during World War II, he had a gall bladder attack and had to stay behind. He remained stateside during the war and became an instructor on B17s. He was discharged in 1946, becoming a member of the New York State National Guard.
Andy reactivated the NYS National Guard Headquarters Company, 105th Infantry, 27th Division in Saranac Lake on April 10, 1947, with only 13 men. Under his leadership, the company grew to 90 men. He retired from the National Guard in 1951.
Andy became the President and Manager of the family business, the Fortune Funeral Home at 40 Church St., in 1946 and operated the business for 23 years until 1969, when his son, Andrew Jr., assumed responsibility.
Andy was very active in the community over the years. He co-owned and operated the Saranac Lake Go Kart track in Lake Clear in the 1950s and 1960s. He was involved in the Boy Scouts since 1927, holding every position from Scout to International Representative. He continued on as a member of the Adirondack Council of Boy Scouts, serving as its President in 1965 and 1966. In 1961, he was awarded the Silver Beaver, Scouting's highest award. He was a life member, past president and Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club of Saranac Lake. Andy was the driving force behind the Rotary Club "Cotton Candy/Snow Cone Trailer," which he built and donated to the organization. It continues in operation to this day, providing thousands of dollars in Rotary Club support to youth and senior citizen organizations. He was very proud of the fact that he had never missed a Rotary meeting, even while he was traveling. He was a life member of the Elks Lodge #1508, the Knights of Columbus #599, the Loyal Order of the Moose, the American Legion #447, the Experimental Ultralight Aircraft Association, the OX5 Club of America and the Saranac Lake Bobsled Club. He was an accomplished woodworker and in his retirement was known for the duck push toys he built to benefit the Saranac Lake Free Library and Uihlein Mercy Center. Andy never gave up his love of flying. He built an ultralight airplane named "Grandpa's Toy" at the age of 70 and did his first sky dive at the age of 81. He was also able to take one last flight in a B17 at the Adirondack Regional Airport when he was 90.
He is survived by two sons: Andrew J. Fortune Jr. and his wife Ruth of Saranac Lake, and Timothy J. Fortune and his wife Diana of Bloomingdale; three grandchildren: Christopher and Timothy Fortune of Saranac Lake, and Ann Fortune of Los Angeles, Calif. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Anita Oddy, of Chesapeake, Va.
Friends may call at the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 26. A Bible vigil will be held at 6:45 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will take place at noon Friday, April 27 at St. Bernard's Church with the Rev. Mark Reilly and Monsignor C. J. McAvoy concelebrating. Interment will follow at Pine Ridge Cemetery.
Friends wishing to remember Andy may make memorial contributions to High Peaks Hospice in care of the funeral home. Family and friends may also share their memories and sign the online guest book at fortunekeoughfuneralhome.com.