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David J. “Dave” Gielskie

David J. “Dave” Gielskie, 85, of Hamden, passed away on Wednesday evening, April 11, 2018 at O’Connor Hospital following a brief illness.

Dave was born on February 14, 1933; the fifth of John and Mary (Burk) Gielskie’s nine children. John Gielskie, an immigrant from Poland, established the family farm on the Back River Road in DeLancey, and Dave grew up working the farm with his brothers and sisters. He attended the one-room schoolhouse on Holmes Hollow, and later Delaware Academy Central School, from which he graduated in 1951. In high school he played basketball and ran track, but the pastime he loved most was horse-pulling.  

Starting in the late 1940s, the Gielskie brothers competed in horse pulls all over the Northeast. For the next forty years, their teams of Belgian draft horses won numerous prizes at fairs and other contests, including the New York State Fair. Dave was well-known throughout the horse pulling world, and even after retiring from competition in the ‘80s would travel with friends to horse pulls as far away as Maine and Michigan.

It was at a horse pull that he met his beloved wife Tina, whom he married on December 30, 1973, at the DeLancey United Presbyterian Church. They loved to take long road trips as a couple, and with their children. In their later years, they continued to travel as much as their health would allow; their favorite destination was the Maine coast.

At its height, the Gielskie Brothers farm spanned more than 400 acres, with a large dairy herd, draft horses, and other animals including beef cattle, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, and sheep. Dave officially retired from dairy farming in 1990, and limited his herd to only sheep. And pigs. And chickens.

Dave also served two terms as Hamden Town Justice in the 1980s, and as an alternate justice in Delhi. His favorite part of the job was performing marriages, and many couples whose weddings he officiated remained in touch for years after.

After his semi-retirement from farming, Dave went to work for Delaware Opportunities as a medical transport driver in 1992, and continued until he re-retired in 2010.  The job gave him the chance to drive all over New York and to meet many different people, which he enjoyed very much. It also provided ample reading time while he waited for clients; his favorite books were mysteries and history.

Dave was predeceased by Tina, his love and wife of 43 years, in April 2017. He was also predeceased by his siblings Frank Gielskie, Marcia Gielskie, Marian Corey Fountain, Kenneth Gielskie, Margaret Conner, and Alice Beatty. He is survived by his son, Channing Gielskie of Hamden; his daughter, Colleen Gielskie of New Orleans, LA; his sister Virginia Bartkow of Huntington, WV, and Alex Gielskie of DeLancey.

The family would like to thank the staff of O’Connor Hospital in Delhi for their loving and gracious care.



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