Photography

John Michael Fetscher

August 27, 1943 ~ April 15, 2022 (age 78)

Obituary

TROY - With sins forgiven and salvation assured by the grace of God, John Michael Fetscher passed peacefully into eternal life on Good Friday, April 15, 2022 after a brief  bout with an exceptionally rapacious metastatic lung cancer. 

John died comfortably and with dignity at home only a short month after his diagnosis on St. Patrick's Day. 

John’s last days were filled with extensive excursions on the bucolic back roads of Rensselaer County and in his well-appointed parlor, surrounded by his cherished art and antiques, with friends who became caretakers, setting affairs in order, receiving his dearest distant family members, former co-workers and dignitaries, recounting memories, making amends and saying goodbyes. 

Born August 27, 1943 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Dr. Charles Arthur Fetscher and Margaret Cosgrove Fetscher, John grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, Troy, New York and in Short Hills, New Jersey. 

After graduation from Millburn High School where he served as class president, John attended The College of The Holy Cross, his father’s Alma mater, receiving his baccalaureate degree in 1965. 
John taught English and History at the Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, New Hampshire and later worked in Manhattan until he returned to Troy in 1978. 

John’s father worked as a research chemist at Cluett, Peabody & Company, Inc. in Troy for a decade in the late 1940s until the late 1950s and the family lived in a large Victorian home at 11 Terrace Place. 

Growing up in Troy made a lasting impression, because despite his grand adventures, world travels and working for a decade in Manhattan, John dedicated the rest of his life to improving this small upstate city. 

In partnership with fellow Manhattanites Jerry and Patricia Cole, John formed a corporation, Trojan Priam Limited, in 1977 to buy, sell and hold historic downtown residential properties, concentrating on Fifth Avenue and Grand Street. 

In 1978, the three left Manhattan behind and homesteaded in downtown Troy. 

Over the following four decades, John owned around a dozen properties in the city, focusing especially on the 2100 block of Fifth Avenue, between Federal and Jacob streets, working to stabilize and reinvigorate the neighborhood. 

His varied and storied properties included a boarding house which once served as a bordello, and a bodega which he happily sold to grateful immigrants from Yemen who still speak glowingly about how John helped them get their start in America. 

John’s prized property and longtime residence was 2180 Fifth Avenue. 

The home was built in 1840 by William Spencer Earl and Hannah Maria Gardner Earl, pioneers in the cuff and collar business and part owners of Earl & Wilson, one of the most successful of the companies that brought Troy to prominence as the ‘Collar City’ by the 1900's.

When the Earl’s son Gardner died tragically at 38, the family built the Gardner Earl Memorial Chapel and Crematorium at Oakwood Cemetery in his honor, sparing no expense.  

In 2012 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark and in reverence to that connection, John has been cremated at Oakwood.

John will be remembered by his Troy friends as a multifaceted character.  

A kind and gentle soul, dapper and distinguished, trademark sports coat and straw hat. A frequent patron of Bacchus, Lucas Confectionery and Ryan’s Wake, gregarious and gracious, catching up with staff and checking on plants.

John was almost always courteous and caring, but delightfully cantankerous when discussing the ever increasing taxes, political corruption and municipal malfeasance so endemic in Troy.

John was a longtime Republican committeeman, liberal but loyal, politely partisan although unafraid to criticize his own leadership. 

A firm but fair landlord to his many tenants and part-time employees who affectionately referred to him as Uncle John, and at times, generous to a fault. 

John was a retired staff member of the Rensselaer County Department of Economic Development and Planning and served as the Secretary of the Water and Sewer Board for the county.

John was a communicant of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Troy, and a regular 8 AM service intercessor.

John was a classical music aficionado, an eclectic collector of art and antiques, an inveterate world traveler, a lover of local history, the long way to a destination and the surprise visit, a gardener and a fastidious caretaker of plants. 

John is remembered by family as a loving brother, uncle and cousin. He is survived by his sister, Peg Fetscher of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; his brother, Tim Fetscher (Maryann) of Cotuit, Massachusetts; beloved nieces Maggie Fetscher of Auburn, Maine and Gretchen Fetscher of Portland, Maine and many special cousins. 

In John’s memory, please let yourself enjoy Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, sip a good red wine, care for plants, befriend those without families, catch up with friends in person and take the road less traveled when heading home.  

A private memorial service honoring John will be held in the Gardner Earl Memorial Chapel in June. 
 

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