Gregory Szabo

Obituary of Gregory M. Szabo

In the early morning hours of May 9, 2020, during an uncharacteristic spring snowstorm, Gregory M. Szabo, 67, of Canajoharie, NY, passed away at his home unexpectedly. For those that knew Greg, he was a force to be reckoned with and never went down without a fight. Gregory was born on November 22, 1952, in Amsterdam, NY, to a Catholic family, he was the son of the late William Szabo and Doris O'Brian Szabo. Gregory grew up on a homestead on Court St. in Fonda, NY, and attended Fonda School until the age of 17. At that time, having three of his own brothers serving in Vietnam, Greg pleaded, needing his mother's permission, to volunteer his service and to join the United States Marine Corp; he was adamant on enlisting so he could join his older brothers. He got her permission, and while serving in the Marines, he was awarded the Marksmanship Military Medal of Honor for Sharp Shooting. Gregory has had many different occupations throughout his years, though his proudest were working on the oil rigs in New Mexico, (He always said, "You had to be a real man to work on those rigs"), being a car salesman, and his latest job working as a union painter for Local Union Number 201, Albany, NY, until his retirement. Along with his parents, Gregory was predeceased by brothers Elwood Szabo, John Szabo, Stephen Szabo; sister Wilma (Szabo) Miller; father-in-law, Charles Berry, Sr.; and dear friend David Winsman. Gregory is survived by his loving wife, Debra Berry-Szabo of Canajoharie, NY, with whom he has shared a life for 30 years; children Regina Szabo and children, and Casey Joe Szabo; stepchildren, Kristina Battisti, Chadd Battisti and partner Jahane, and Kari Battisti Scalzo; brothers Joel Szabo, Daniel Szabo, Christopher Szabo, Eric Szabo, and sister Stacia Farrell; grandchildren Noah, Oliver, Emmalyn, Sofia, and Greysonn; several nieces, specifically Alexis who was like a daughter; nephews, specifically Trey who shared his love for baseball; and cousins, including special cousin Holly Dake. Gregory also had an extended family: his "other children" Kenneth Ponte, Amy Winsman, and Albert and Katelyn Winsman; his lifetime friend William (Wild Bill) Wilder whom he referred to as his "other brother" and special friends Claus Juers, Joe Fowler, Ray Niepoth, and his "Berry Clan.” Gregory loved to travel; his adventures in life brought him to all but two states in the U.S. In the 70s, he once hitchhiked all the way from New York to California, and in the 80s he drove his 1952 Military Dodge Power Wagon (Tugger) from New Mexico to New York. Gregory was an avid outdoorsman, hunter, great fisherman, history buff, artifact and treasure hunter, especially looking for Herkimer Diamonds, so much so that he was acknowledged in The Rock and Gem magazine in the 90s. Greg said, "If you aren't looking, you aren't finding.” Gregory loved camping in the Adirondacks, specifically Lewey Lake and Piseco Lake. He also couldn't wait to get on the deep sea fishing boats when visiting his daughter and family on Nantucket. Gregory loved the Mohawk Valley and had an appreciation for the local history, especially of the Mohawk Indians, which likely explains why he fell in love with his "White Cloud.” He was known for making a mean sausage and pepper sandwich with his Rollie Poli booth at the Fonda Fair Grounds. Gregory was most recently known to be bombing downtown to grab a Stewart's Coffee in his yellow 1971 Ford Truck, “the yellow submarine.” Greg always looked forward to his wife making him a good Ole' Golumpki. Gregory was known by many nicknames. To some, especially his grandson Noah (No-ee), he was The Man, The Myth, The Legend. He was given many names from family and friends: "Zabe,” the Clipper,” “Mr. Herkimer Diamond,” “Rat Dink,” “Pappy Daddy" but his proudest name was being called “Papa” by his grandchildren. Gregory was always dependable; if he said he would be there, he'd be 30 minutes early; even if he was moaning and groaning, thinking it was all nonsense, he would always be there waiting! He was renowned for his lack of patience, not holding back his opinion, with a knack for telling it like it is. But, he always told the truth, even if it wasn't what you wanted to hear. He was genuine to a fault, but a teddy bear at heart (or a grizzly bear). Greg was 5'8", but back in the "hayday", most men thought he was 6'10" with his Marlboro in his mouth, head cocked to one side, and a smirk that said it all, he'd strut over to a chair, and do a handstand pushup. Greg was truly one of a kind! Greg's wisdom of the "school of hard knocks" made him the man he was; he strived to pave the way for those he loved deeply. Gregory took fashion cues from no one: bib overalls and barefoot in the 70s, and his signature look with his cutoff shirt, pair of blue jeans, with his cowboy boots and hat. Even though Gregory tried to uphold his legendary "tough guy” status, you could always be sure during difficult times, you could hear him call out for "Debraaaaa!" When he loved, he loved hard; when someone did him or his family wrong.—well, that was another story; nothing meant more to Gregory than honoring his word. A service of remembrance will take place at a later date; arrangements are entrusted to Houghtaling & Smith Funeral Home, Inc., of Canajoharie. In lieu of flowers, donations in Gregory's memory may be made to Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance at https://www.tsalliance.org/ways-to-give/, for his love of his grandson, Oliver, whom he affectionately called "little feller.” The family lovingly requests you remember Gregory by going to Stewart's for a cup of coffee, sitting on the riverbank and dropping a fishing line, or kicking your feet in the dirt and looking for some treasure. Ya Hoo!! Ya Hear!!!
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