By Chuck Wiser I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels.
Prologue: Lyle “Galen” Stout was born in his family’s home in Hallsport near Wellsville, N.Y. on July 30, 1934, to Edith Francisco Stout and Lyle Galen Stout. He was the youngest of 8 children. He started his education in a two-room schoolhouse, a short walk from the family’s large farm, and graduated from Wellsville High School and Alfred State College.
My wife and I first met the Stouts, Galen, and his wife Betsey, when we started attending church at the First Congregational Church in Wellsville. NY in the early 80’s. You didn’t have to know them very long to realize what a great pair they made and just how special they were. Galen’s recent passing leaves a hole in our hearts but gladly it is partially filled with the many memories he built, just like the many projects he worked on. Galen’s musical instrument talent was shared at the church any time anything musical was performed, or entertainment was needed. His wife Betsey, a musician in her own right, with her angelic voice, was an integral part of the Congregational Church choir.
Galen wasn’t just your typical bass guitar plucking country western singer, as, starting at an early age he took piano lessons, and then in high school he was a cellist along with his string bass playing. At an early age he even started branching out into the dance band world as a musician at the age of 16.
When some current members of the church choir that Galen and Betsey were once a part of before their moving to Canandaigua found out I was going to write some words about Galen, they came forth with their own kind words and remembrances of him. Everyone recalls Galen with affection.
Galen, growing up on a farm and blessed with mechanical aptitude and interests to match his agricultural leanings. teamed up with his brother Gary, opened a farm implements dealership in Hallsport, named Stout Brothers Sales and Services. Among the products carried at this farm implements outlet were Cub Cadet mowers and tractors. While I was soliciting stories to share about Galen, Roxane Schmidt recalled, and told the tale about having purchased a Cub Cadet lawn tractor from Galen. He told her that he was going to “name the tractor “Roxi.”
I’m going to share a couple of things, paraphrasing the words of those best to know just how special Galen was. Who better to show the true character of a person like Galen, than his children.
Galen’s son Tim replied with a story telling of something not all fathers would do on a cold winter’s night. “Here’s a memory I have of dad helping out on a cold winter’s night. “On one incredibly cold evening where Dad chose not to go snowmobiling. I remember the furnace running for a long time and then a phone call came to the house. It was a member of the snowmobiling party and they called dad as several people had run out of gas somewhere. Dad loaded up a truck with plenty of gasoline and drove out to find members of this snowmobile group, expecting to drive the truck home.
Instead, an unnamed member of the group convinced him to ride her snowmobile back so that she could drive the nice warm truck. I suspect my dad got a little cold that night as he wasn’t quite dressed for a long snowmobile ride back to Hallsport.”
Another note, this one from his daughter Linda, gives another perfect example of what kind of father Galen was. “My dad was very sweet. Incredibly gregarious. One time I took a friend to my parent’s house, and they said that Dad seemed like the mayor. I think he encouraged people to be better. He was really kind to me, and I had a beautiful horse as a teen. The night before buying the horse, he didn’t sleep all night because he didn’t want to miss out on buying her. Her name was Ginger Brandy. Later, he bought me a horse trailer and on the back of it, he put some words of advice. “Don’t Be What You See” is what he had printed on the back of the horse trailer, for everyone to see.
Here’s a personal accounting of an interaction that I had with Galen.
Whilst I was whiling away the summer of ’83, courtesy of The Air Preheater Company giving me an unexpected “summer long vacation,” I spent a lot of time at our camp at Deer Run off Jones Road in Andover. Dan Spangler, the campground owner, never one to let idle hands rest, enlisted my help getting loads of wood to stockpile for his winter heating needs. Galen, at that time, was into another of his business ventures, Fulmer Valley Forest Products, and Dan was buying loads of wood off Galen. My, knowing Galen from church, and he, knowing my work situation, offered to sell me wood at a low price so that I could buy it, cut it, and sell it, for profit.
Galen had recently “logged” that section of woods and, he was selling the “tops” to others for firewood. I was going to help him skid the “tops” out and then I could cut, split and sell “Cord wood” making some money until I was able to land another job.
A day or two later I drove my truck up to Galen’s wood lot to begin my new adventure. As I watched, Galen drove his skidder pulling a load of “tops” out of the wood lot. As the skidder drew near, I thought Galen’s face looked a little funny. As he got close enough for me to clearly see his facial details, one of his eyes was colored sunset purple and the surrounding tissue was scraped and bruised. He pointed to the eye and proclaimed that this was one of the hazards of working the wood lot. Downed trees, treetops and limbs can move in mystical ways and many of those find their way to your body. I offered Galen my thanks, but explained that I felt that since I was presently without any medical insurance or hospitalization plans it might be a little too risky for me to pursue that means of making a living. I “ramped up” my job search activities.
Shortly thereafter I began my teaching career, and I was so consumed with the massive task of learning what to teach that I lost contact with pretty much everything, and everybody.
Sadly Galen and Betsey were among those that I lost track of and now, only can say Hi to Galen as he looks down, is reading this and thinks favorably that I served him as proudly as he deserves.
After all: I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels.
Epilogue: Lyle Galen Stout passed away at age 88 on January 17, 2023, surrounded by family.