Sanford S. Whittum

Sanford Stevenson Whittum, 84, of 67 Coreys Road, Tupper Lake, passed away at his home on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

Sanford, called “Sandy” or “Stan” by family and friends, was born on Sept. 24, 1929 in Greenwich Village, New York City, to Muriel Stevenson Whittum and Walter Willard Whittum. At that time, his father was a chemist on a sugar plantation in Cuba, who later settled in Springfield, Mass. His mother had a long career as a well-respected psychiatric social worker. They divorced shortly after his birth. His mother and maternal grandparents raised Sanford in New York City. At age five, Sanford met fellow New Yorker Dorothy Neiman (now Young), who walked him to school; Dorothy remained a lifelong friend.

The foundation of Sanford’s life was Hiawatha Lodge and surrounding property in Coreys, purchased by Sanfords maternal-grandfather in 1899. Sanford’spent every summer in Coreys, developing a devoted stewardship to the property and embracing an enthusiasm for the cycles of nature. As a young child, he met Ken Hollenbeck, they attended Saranac Lake High School together and remained close friends throughout their lives. After graduating from Saranac Lake High School in 1947, Sanford attended Newark College of Engineering, receiving a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering.

Sanford met his future wife Anne Marie Disotell in Coreys, where she worked during the summer at the Indian Spring Camp, a guest house run by Mrs. Eklund. Sanford and Anne were married at St. Alphonsus Church in Tupper Lake on June 29, 1952.

Sanford’s first professional employment was at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and they settled in New York City, where their daughter Stephanie was born in 1953. Wanting to be closer to Coreys, Sanford found employment with General Electric and moved the family to Schenectady, where daughter Muriel was born in 1956; then to Utica where son Kinsley was born in 1960; and finally to North Syracuse. Sanford’s work at General Electric involved designing and building intricate circuit boards. In 1964, Sanford accepted employment with Eastman Kodak in Rochester, where he worked for 25 years. His work included optic imaging for NASA and office imaging. In 1989 Sanford retired from Kodak and he and Anne moved permanently to Coreys.

Sanford was a lover of tall white pines and hiking. He completed climbing the 46 high peaks of New York state at age 69, both he and daughter Muriel becoming 46ers on the same day.

Sanford had a lifelong fascination with trains he attributed to his grandfather Stevenson and a Lionel train set he received from his father when he was five. He enjoyed building airplane and train models as a teenager; especially during the high school years he spent living at a boarding house in Saranac Lake. Sanford built an elaborate O gauge train layout the family enjoyed for many years in their Rochester home. He was an active member of the New York Central Railroad Historical Society. His true legacy is engineering a quarter-sized private railroad built over several decades preferring to work by hand digging and moving tons of dirt, sand, and rock with a wheelbarrow and shovel. In later years he added diesel and steam locomotives. Hiawatha Live Steamers will continue in private operation by family members.

Surviving Sanford is Anne, his wife of nearly 62 years; daughter Muriel Hesler and son-in-law Michael Whitney; son Kinsley Whittum and daughter-in-law MarySue; nine grandchildren (oldest to youngest): Rebecca, Anna, Sanford, Christopher, Lisa, Kimberly, Nicole, Michelle and Kory; and three great-grandchildren: Sarah, Evan and Charlie. Sanford is also survived by his half-sister Cora Durocher, fifteen years his junior, who is currently receiving hospice care in Arizona.

He was predeceased by his daughter Stephanie, who died in 2001.

Calling hours will be held at the Stuart-Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Tupper Lake from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 10. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Friday, April 11 at St. Alphonsus Church. A private internment at Coreys Cemetery will occur later in the spring.

Those wishing to make memorial contributions are asked to consider the Adirondack Scenic Railroad or High Peaks Hospice.