During one of Mayfield Central Presbyterian Church’s volunteer trips to New York City, Earl Hare was found standing in the rain at 3 a.m. holding an umbrella over a homeless man eating a sandwich.
Hare stood there soaking wet and asking the man a million questions, said Pastor Bonnie Orth.
“He was one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met,” she said.
Orth stood with several other members of Hare’s family outside the charred timbers of his home on Route 30 in Mayfield. Hare, 91, died in the fire that broke out at his home early Wednesday morning.
A picture of Hare in a suit and tie was placed next to dozens of flowers and an American Flag perched on a tree, waving in the wind.
At around 10 a.m., 155 vehicles, including the sheriff’s department, fire department and other local municipal departments, friends and community members joined a procession that went past Mayfield United Methodist and Mayfield Central Presbyterian Church before heading toward Hare’s house.
Some stopped to hand flowers to Hare’s family while others shouted kind words like “He was a wonderful, wonderful man.”
“I loved him,” said Carol Madden, Hare’s niece. “I know people loved him. It just shows you how many lives he touched.”
Madden said Hare would’ve loved the procession, it was one of the best ways to honor him — a parade to honor his life.
“He loved a parade, so he’d be smiling ear to ear,” said Sheriff Richard Giardino.
Hare, an avid signer, even loved singing the song ‘I Love a Parade’,” said Wendy Perry, the vice president of Finance and Human Resources at the Fulton County YMCA.
Perry said he also loved the song “Good Morning to You.” Perry said he would sing up and down the halls of the YMCA, where he was an avid swimmer.
“He had just a big personality,” she said.
Giardino, who was friends with Hare for around 40 years, said he was a unique man, who was a fixture in the community.
“He earned the informal title of mayor of Mayfield,” he said.
Many community members said Hare loved volunteering. He would volunteer for all sorts of events — games, theater shows and concerts — from local events to shows at Proctors and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
It surprised Madden and her daughter, Nadine Medina, when he said he had gone to a hard rock concert and loved it.
“Uncle Earl was the kind of person who took me to my first ballet show,” Medina said.
Hare also supported her love of dancing, taking her to see the New York City Ballet at SPAC and attending one of her first showcases.
He was the kind of person who took his grandparents to see Liberace at SPAC every year and gave everyone the same kind of birthday card. Medina and Madden said you could always expect a card from him with writing in red ink — ”Love Uncle Earl XOXO.”
It also contained a crisp $1 bill no matter what age you were, they said.
Carol Madden said Hare served in the Army — although she’s not clear on how long he was in the military or what he did.
“All I know was he would say he had top secret clearance,” Madden said.
Hare also worked in the community as a math teacher and was a staple on many community boards and organizations.
He was a graduate of both SUNY Cortland and Albany State.
Madden said an obituary will be forthcoming, she’s hoping to add in as much as she can about her uncle.
“I want to do him justice,” she said.
Funeral services for Hare will be held at noon on April 11 at Mayfield Central Presbyterian Church.
Hare will be buried at a later date, Madden said.