Focus on History: The tragic 1995 fire that killed a family

The 1995 fire that claimed the lives of David and Stephanie Grandy and their three children took pla

The 1995 fire that claimed the lives of David and Stephanie Grandy and their three children took place at their home on Ramsey Avenue in Amsterdam. Stephanie Grandy’s brother, David Miller, pointed out that a previous column erroneously listed the municipality where the fire occurred as Fort Johnson.

Although they lived in Amsterdam, both Grandys were very active with the Fort Johnson Volunteer Fire Department. David Grandy, who worked as a truck driver for Cushing Stone, was a lieutenant in the fire department. Stephanie Miller Grandy was a first-responder, receiving a plaque for her volunteer work in 1994. They were in their early 30s when they died.

Their children were McKayla, Katie and Nicole, ranging in age from 3 to 7. Nicole turned 5 on the day of the fatal fire, Monday, Dec. 18. That weekend the Grandys had held a birthday party for Nicole at the Fort Johnson fire station and also helped put on the department’s Christmas party.

Firefighters believed the blaze started from electrical wiring entering the home in north Amsterdam. The fire broke out while the family slept.

Amsterdam Fire Department Battalion Chief Walter Martin told the Recorder when he retired last year that the Grandy fire was one of the most horrific experiences of his career. Martin found the father and one of the three children in the home, but it was too late to save them.

Stephanie Grandy had grown up in the house. Her parents were John and Molly Miller, both deceased at the time of the fire. John and Molly Miller had served separate terms on the Amsterdam school board.

A monument was dedicated to the Grandy family in 1996 at Fort Johnson Fire Station Two on Golf Course Road in the town of Amsterdam.


After the local teams in the Canadian-American minor league baseball league folded, there was an era of what was called town team baseball in the Mohawk Valley. Gerry Hisert recalled a team he played for, the Amsterdam Textiles.

In 1961 the Textiles beat the Amsterdam Rugmakers 6-0 in a Mohawk Mills Park contest on June 9. Mohawk Mills Park is now Herbert Shuttleworth II Park and is home to the Amsterdam Mohawks in the Perfect Game collegiate baseball league.

In that 1961 game, Bill Fennhahn drove in three runs for the Textiles. Hisert and Johnny Kuk each had two hits. Also hitting for the Textiles were Costa Lazarou, Dick Squillace and Johnny Korchina. Gabe Agosta was the winning pitcher. Bill Stanley was losing pitcher for the Rugmakers.


The Montgomery County Department of History and Archives now has an account on Facebook. County Historian Kelly Yacobucci Farquhar urges history fans to visit and hit the “like” button.

Amsterdam expatriates frequently gather in a Facebook group called I Grew Up In Amsterdam NY. Sometimes the posts deal with current news issues in Amsterdam, such as the planned Chalmers Mill demolition.

More frequently, people want to exchange information on childhood memories such as former neighborhood stores or the pool at the Vrooman Avenue School playground. That post led to queries about the pool that used to be at the Brookside Avenue playground.

The Historic Amsterdam League has its own website — One of the frequently asked question is, “Do you need to live in Amsterdam to belong to the League?” You do not.

The league’s website also provides links to other history sites — Mohawk Valley Web maintained by Frank Yunker contains an archive of many Focus on History columns; Fulton-Montgomery Community College has an online photo collection; Tom Tryniski’s Fulton History site archives many New York state newspapers.

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