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Walter Hazard Blackler


Walter Hazard Blackler, 88, of Skaneateles, NY died peacefully at his home on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, as a result of pancreatic cancer.

    Walt was born to Walter and Louise Blackler on April 19, 1936, in Bethlehem, PA, while his father was a college student. He grew up in Farmington, CT. Following in his father’s footsteps, Walt attended Lehigh University. After graduation in 1958, he moved to Rochester, NY to work for Gleason Works as a mechanical engineer. While living in Rochester he met Patricia Mahoney at a YMCA ski event for young singles.  They were married in Haverhill, MA in February 1960. Walt enrolled at Harvard Business School that Fall. He and Pat welcomed their first child while he was a graduate student. They lived in Cambridge, MA and West Hartford, CT, before eventually settling in Skaneateles in 1965.  

    Walt had an entrepreneurial drive. Seeking to become a small business owner, he bought an apple orchard in Lafayette, NY in 1965. Apple Acres has been in business for nearly 60 years, growing, packing and shipping apples across the country. He loved the apple business and never retired, assessing the crop and providing wise counsel until his death. He served the NY apple industry in leadership roles throughout his career, including the Western NY Apple Growers’ Association, the NY Apple Association, the Horticulture Society, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension. He especially enjoyed his time with the Apple Research and Development Program Board directing research funds to improve the profitability of all the state’s orchards.  He was instrumental in bringing new apple varieties to market with the Crunch Time Apple Growers group.  Like their parents, many of his grandchildren got their first work experience at the orchard, learning valuable lessons while spending time with their Pappy. 

    Walt had a strong sense of civic responsibility.  His record of service to the Skaneateles community stretched multiple decades and included positions on the Planning Board, the Zoning Board, the Board of Trustees, and most recently until his resignation in 2023, the Municipal Board. In 2023, the Mayor of Skaneateles presented him with a Resolution of Appreciation for his unwavering and devoted service to the community.  He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, his words were smart, thoughtful, and kind.

    Pat and Walt had five children. Walt loved spending time with his family. He never missed a ballet recital or graduation ceremony. Until the day he died, he was an active (and funny) participant in the family group text chain.  His last text congratulated his granddaughter on her recent engagement.  He had a baseball hat from each college attended by his children and grandchildren, and he proudly rotated through them as appropriate for the occasion.  He especially enjoyed annual summer vacations in the Adirondacks. He made his last trip to Lake Placid in June 2023, shortly after his cancer diagnosis, enjoying the time with 26 of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  His extended family continues the annual tradition. 

    Pat and Walt enjoyed sailing on Skaneateles Lake and were active in the racing community. They were members of Owasco Yacht Club, Skaneateles Sailing Club, and Skaneateles Country Club.  He was a skier and softball player, famous among his friends for his antique softball glove.  He also loved watching almost any sport, but especially lacrosse and baseball.  In 2022, he had the chance to travel to Houston to see his Phillies play the Astros in the World Series.

    Walter was predeceased by his wife, Patricia, and his son Walter Hazard Blackler IV.  He is survived by his four daughters, Anne Marie Reynolds of Houston, Ellen Blackler (Francis McNally) of Takoma Park, Maryland, Laurel Grow (Dan) of West Hartford, and Catherine Blackler (Derek Raymond) of Skaneateles; nine grandchildren, Rudy Reynolds (Buffin), Catie Reynolds (Tony Zupancic), Nora McNally Reiff (Zach Reiff), Peter McNally, Patrick Grow (Tory), Stephen Grow, Mary Kate Grow, Caroline Raymond and Libby Raymond, and seven great-grandchildren.

    In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Skaneateles Lake Association (

  Calling hours will be held at Robert D. Gray Funeral Home, Skaneateles on Monday, June 17 from 4 to 6pm. Memorial service will be held on Tuesday, June 18th at 10am at St. Mary’s of the Lake, Skaneateles with burial following the funeral at St. Mary's Cemetery in Skaneateles.

To view previously archived obituary and guestbook for Walter, please click here.


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