GNH Lumber February 2024

Town mourns loss of longtime historian


By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Longtime town historian and Ravena News-Herald columnist Harry Sturges. Courtesy of Ravena Coeymans HIstorical Society

RAVENA — Longtime town historian and Ravena News-Herald columnist Harry Sturges died Thursday.

Sturges, 94, was a longtime columnist for the newspaper, compiling the weekly “News from the Past” column, sharing historical records and anecdotes from the town and village from a century ago. He wrote for the News-Herald for many years.

Sturges’ wife, Marie Sturges, said her husband had asked her to continue writing the “News from the Past” column in the event he was unable to continue doing so, and she agreed to begin carrying on his legacy in the coming weeks.

Harry Sturges was town historian for Coeymans and served the town in many different capacities over 65 years, including as a teacher, town judge and town board member.

He stepped down from his longtime position as town historian in a resignation letter to the town board dated July 11, citing health reasons. The board accepted his resignation July 28. His colleague, Joseph Boehlke, was appointed to the post in his place.

Sturges was an avid historian who loved the town and village, and was one of the founding members of the Ravena Coeymans Historical Society. Over the years, he made many contributions to the organization.

The historical society announced Sturges’ passing Sunday.

“It is with deep sadness we share with you that our dear friend and colleague Harry A. Sturges passed away on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022,” according to a statement from the group. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees we send our thoughts and prayers to his beloved wife Marie, their children and grandchildren.”

In addition to his work with the historical society, Sturges was a guiding light and donor who sought to keep the history of the community alive.

“One of our founding members, Harry served the society in many roles, including on the first Board of Trustees and treasurer,” according to the group. “He continued to be active in the society throughout the last 24 years assisting with research, writing articles, providing informative programs and as a mentor to many of us. Over the years, Harry accumulated a vast collection of memorabilia related to local history and in 2010 donated a large portion of that personal collection to the society; for that we are forever grateful.”

Sturges was honored by the historical society in 2014 with the creation of the Harry A. Sturges Archives & Research Center, which served as a repository for the enormous collection of maps, yearbooks, photos, documents and other memorabilia that documented the history of the village and town.

“Harry’s love for the history of this community will be his lasting legacy and he will be missed,” the group said.

News of Sturges’ death reverberated around the community over the weekend.

“Harry Sturges was a family friend for decades,” Town Supervisor George McHugh said. “To me personally, he was a mentor, role model and a dear friend. His many words of wisdom, and the memory of his laugh, will stay with me forever. Harry served his community for 65 years in numerous capacities to include teacher, town judge, town board member and town historian. We should all strive to serve our community as selflessly as Harry served. Harry will be missed, but he will always be remembered and loved.”

Mayor Bill Misuraca said Sturges’ death was a great loss for the community and for those who loved him.

“Mr. Sturges was an absolute treasure in our village,” Misuraca said. “I am honored to have known him and his passing leaves a great void in our community.”

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