Rodney Jones has been a Silver Laker for almost 30 years. In 1988 he brought his family to Silver Lake as a place for a retreat. Over the years, he found time to work on the family cottage, relax in the lake atmosphere and all that it had to offer, serve on the Board of Trustees and enjoy sitting on the porch swing watching the beautiful Silver Lake sunsets. He also took interest in and dedicated many hours of personal time in researching and recording the history of Silver Lake Institute, in particular the history behind the street names on the Institute.
Joan Maddison has a long history of service to the Silver Lake Institute from raising money to baking desserts. She did preliminary research along with others and was a force in the application of the Institute to be placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
In addition, she has been a long standing member of the worship committee. She along with her husband have organized, provided, and served the coffee hour refreshments after every summer Sunday service for over a decade.
For years Joan has played an integral part in the annual memorial service and continues to personally contact each family who has lost a loved one. Joan is indeed one of those behind the scenes hero who has dedicated a good portion of her life to the Silver Lake Institute.
Julie Hoffner has been a Silver Laker for over 60 years. She is often seen as the accompanist for the majority of the Institute worship services.
She has served on the SLI Board of Trustees for over 14 years, 12 of those years she has been the program committee chair. In this position, she works through the winter filing grant proposals to the Arts Council to line up musical, cultural, educational, and spiritual activities for our summer enjoyment. As part of that committee, she is there early to set up and greet the performers and stays late to close up our facilities.
In addition Julie has been an integral part of the Silver Lake Experience committee. Julie’s dedication to the Silver Lake Institute is evident in all that she does.
Pete Mairs was locally born, the oldest in the family. He loved his country life of camping and playing basketball in barns. Everyday was a new adventure. ! Pete came to the lake in 1998 when he married Linda Bergstrom.He refers to his life here as “coming home”
Pete has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for at least 9 years and as past president for 5 years and vice president for 2 years.
When the Institute had to separate from the Upper New York Conference of the Methodist Church, he worked with the support of his fellow trustees and spent countless months in conversation, research, and presentation. His efforts culminated in a legal separation in the Wyoming County Courts and the Silver Lake Institute was established as our own entity. He continued to work tirelessly to secure our 501C3 status with the IRS which was granted in June, 2017.
We owned a cottage on Genesee Street from 1993 till 1998, We had both been coming to Silver Lake with church groups for many years. We sold our neat cottage and came back in 2017 looking for a place on the lake. We bought our now home in 2017 - hence the "We're Back.” That brick was one of Larry's Christmas gifts two years ago...
Velma's daughter, Sharon Pratt reports that Velma first stayed at the lake as a teenager, then as a chaperone. She was an excellent boat driver when we water skied and then later enjoyed a number of years (until she was 102) enjoying the front porch of her family's cottage cottage at 30 Lakeview Ave.
Wonder Woman – that was our mom. She was the jack of many trades. In WWI she joined the YMCA to help wounded vets write letters home from Camp Lee, VA. During WWII she mastered the slide rule to test engines for Bell Aircraft. She was a great swimming teacher. She was creative, fun, resourceful, clever, a super seamstress and artistic. Marion, our very loving mom, was one of a kind.
In 1918, my grandfather, John M. Heather, a lay preacher in the Methodist Church, brought his family for a vacation to Silver Lake Institute. The photo of them sitting on the Institute dock is a cherished memory. Later, as he was strongly influenced by Rev. Charles Williams, he, his wife, their daughter (Eleanor Heather Brocklehurst) and her husband (Bill Brocklehurst) purchased the cottage adjacent to one Rev. Williams owned. The year was 1938. The family enjoyed that cottage at Hedding and Asbury Streets every summer until 1987, when it was sold to my cousin, Richard Longley. Meanwhile the E. Claude Penner family also rented a cottage from Rev. Williams, and went on to build their own cottage across from the Silver Lake Post Office. Paul Penner and I became friends as teenagers here at the Institute and later married. We built our present home across from the Camp Asbury woods in 1988, and moved in permanently in 2008. Now our daughter Jorien enjoys the lake, too. Without SLI, four generations of our extended family would have had very dull summers! Thank you, Silver Lake.
Several years ago some of us on the SLI thought it would be fun to get together at each other’s cottages and share ideas and patterns for personal quilting. The first gathering was on the porch at 15 Harris Ave. There were 5 women and 1 man working on Christmas items. A few more joined in, and it did not take long to realize, that we first needed a larger space, and second, we wanted to create things that would be a comfort to others. We began to meet at the Hoag Library and started making comfort quilts for those in need.
Their children have provided them four beautiful grandchildren: Hannah Cunius, Jon Newberry, Kate Cunius and Will Cunius.
The Cunius family has spent many summer vacations at the Cook, Caldwell (Aunt Carol) and Woodbine (Aunt Dorothy Caldwell Trich) cottages.
We remember him as kind and soft-spoken, with a keen wit and wry sense of humor.
Quoting from his obituary (written by Rev. Willis A. Stackhouse) in the 1962 Genesee Methodist Conference journal:
Ruby moved to Perry in April 1949 when she married Howard McIntyre and began her life on “Mac's Farm.” As housewife, farm mistress and soon a mother of two, Ruby’s life was very busy. Daily she prepared meals for the family and workers, and when she rang the farm bell in the cupola over the back porch, everyone would come a running. Nobody wanted to miss her meals, especially her famous potato salad.
The Rev. EG and Mary Piper acquired the cottage at 54 Lakeview Avenue in 1907. Their oldest daughter Evelyn and her husband Jonas Patterson became the owners in 1933. They had one daughter Eleanor.
In Eleanor’s younger years, she spent summers at Silver Lake with her cousins, playing and swimming. She also went canoeing with her Cousin Raye. When she was older, Eleanor helped Mrs. Nickerson at her hotel on Wesley Avenue, where she helped to cook and wait tables. After the hotel burned, she waited on tables at Epworth Inn.
In 1961, Eleanor Patterson and her husband Bob Forsythe took ownership of the family cottage. Bob and Eleanor had two daughters, Marnie and Bettie. The Forsythes lived in Pavilion and often took the 20 minute drive to spend weekends at the lake. About once a year, Bob would take the family to the Pavilion Train Station, and they would ride the train to the Silver Lake Station. The couple had five grandsons and two great grandsons: Robert and Thomas Baker; Joseph, James, and Jason Statler; and Sean and Aaron who all loved the lake.
Silver Lake was a great place to entertain and hold special events. Bob and Eleanor celebrated their forty-fifth wedding anniversary at the Methodist Manor. There was also a surprise Birthday Party (75) held for Eleanor at Stoody Hall. The front porch was a great place to enjoy sailboat races, the July Ring of Fire, and the many amazing sunsets with family and friends.
In 1992 Eleanor’s two daughters and husbands: Marnie and Al Baker, Bettie and Dick Whitenack acquired the cottage. After 95 years of the cottage being in the family, the cottage was sold in 2002.
Our teenage summers at the lake were particularly memorable because so many other young people also spent their summers at the lake, and we all formed special friendships with each other. Dick Keating’s mother, Ruth, allowed us to convert the upstairs of her lakefront barn into a clubhouse. We cleaned and fixed it up for our meeting place, even getting a piano, record player, chairs, and an icebox up the stairs for soda and refreshments. Several of “THE GANG” played instruments so jazz sessions were great, as was dancing to the popular records of our day – the 1940’s! As the 50’s came along we went our separate ways to college and marriage, but we still tried to keep in touch through Christmas cards and occasional summer visits.
The years kept flying past and our three children grew up, went to college and married. They each also have had two children – who have now grown up and have good jobs and busy lives. We are also blessed with two great–grandchildren (so far): a girl and a boy. Sadly, this new generation may not have the fond memories of summers at Silver Lake as the rest of us have had; as aging made traveling back and forth the 200 miles from Oneonta to Silver Lake more of a challenge, we decided to sell the cottage in 2012.
Willow, John, and our grand dogs love being at the lake.
Norbert (Norb) and Wilma Sylor
Norb and Wilma began their service at Camp Asbury in 1970 after living many years and serving God in the communities of Short Tract and Fillmore, New York. Norb had always loved Silver Lake. As a member of the United Methodist Men, he enjoyed planning and attending their annual retreat. It was at one of those retreats he heard the Lord say that he would one day work at the Camp. So when the opportunity to become part of the operations team as Grounds Superintendent at Camp Asbury, there was no hesitation in his acceptance. Wilma and Norb lived on the grounds and enjoyed being at the camp. Wilma became involved more regularly when there was a need to help in the kitchen preparing meals for the summer campers.
It was during the following years that changes began to happen at Camp Asbury. The buildings were winterized, refurbished or demolished. New buildings were constructed for enhanced programs. The pool was built and the lake was used for non-swimming activities such as canoeing and kayaking. Programs were improved and expanded from summer camp to retreats throughout the year. Naturally the responsibilities also changed. Norb became Camp Administrator and Wilma became Kitchen Manager, in charge of the many meals for the hundreds of people that would become part of the history of Camp Asbury, now Asbury Retreat Center.
The Silver Lake Institute was a major part of life on Silver Lake. Norb and Wilma enjoyed the Church Services and Concerts every summer. Their participation in the community became a part of their ministry. They are fondly remembered and honored by the many pastors, directors, lifeguards, cooks, cleaners, maintenance workers, nurses, campers and people who participated in the many activities and events over the many years. Everyone has a favorite Norb or Wilma memory, everything from backhoe use to rolls and cookies for dinner. They are truly part of the legacy of The Asbury Retreat Center.
Claudia Honsberger, daughter of Wilma and Norb Slyer
Velma Leonal Birtch Clark was born in Dimock, PA in 1905.
Our Mother lived in numerous places including: Bath, NY (1937-1952) and Silver Lake (1952-1997) where our family purchased a cottage at 25 Genesee Avenue.
Mother was an active member of Bath Centenary Methodist, and the WSCS of both Perry First Methodist and the Silver Springs United Methodist.
Mother eventually renovated our cottage to make it the year round residence that we still live in today. She enjoyed travel, sewing, church and family.
Ruth, Dorothy, Clarence, June, Philip and Phyllis
Mary and Art Carver retired to Warsaw NY, but before that they spent lots of times at Woodbine cottage. Aunt Mary was a painter and there were hooks on the bathroom door with names that she painted. There are trays and decorative items that she painted. She was the artist of the family. Her flower arrangements were award winning, her braided rugs were works of art and her gardens, both flower and vegetable, were delights. There are great stories about Mary and Dorothy not liking the pressed back chairs that were in the cottage in 1939. So they cut the backs off of all of them and painted them to be used in the bedrooms for luggage. Mary was also the person who rode herd on the cousins when they were sent away from the cities during the polio epidemics. Her daughter Nancy remembers those summers and tells of making what she called "Witches Stew" down at the lake.
Nancy's children: Margaret, Martha, Thomas, Dorothy, and Stephen, spent many summers at their grandparents home in Warsaw. There was gardening work and chores but there were also daily trips to the lake to swim and ski. Hours of playing cards with cousins, trips to the drive in, and teaching cousins how to make water lily leis and grass skirts after they returned from living in Hawaii also are part of the Silver Lake experience. All of these family members have precious memories of Silver Lake.
Jim and Jeanne Morey
So Who Are Jim and Jeanne and What Was the Lure of the Lake?
Quite simply, Jim loved the lake. Silver Lake was where his relatives gathered every summer, spending each summer day as a family reunion. He loved the freedom of the lake, but even more, he loved the lake because for summers, it was his only permanent childhood home. Jim’s father, Ira, was a salesman and sales manager for Birdseye Foods and was promoted to a new territory about every two years. From Buffalo to Perry to Pittsburgh to Chicago to Indianapolis to Boston to Detroit, Jim and his mother Ernie Newman Morey, followed Ira from city to city.
As for Jeanne, she loved the lake after her first introduction to it because it was evident that the lake was a magical place to Jim. And after the first time in Jim’s boat around Silver Lake, listening to the stories of his adventures during summers growing up at the lake, I (for I am Jeanne) grew to see the lake as an idyllic place in which any child could explore, create and flourish.
The Lore of the Lake: Jim’s Summers Growing Up
Jim told tales about his cousins, Connie, Larry, Nancy, Paul, Jane and Jeff: the plays they made up to entertain the adults at the Filmore homestead where grandmother Mimi and grandfather Cleon Newman lived in the summers with their four grown daughters and their husbands and children. He recounted the baths they took in the lake, the challenge swim across the lake when each of them turned 13. And the music and dancing at The Barn, a privately-owned structure on the lake they were given permission to use on Saturday nights for swing nights.
As Jim grew up, he and his cousin Larry took jobs in Perry at the T-shirt factory, where they worked their way up the ladder from flockers to printers. One summer, Jim’s father fronted the cousins $500 to run a small store on Wesley near the post office. This was back when the trains still ran by the lake, and each day, delivered mail to the lakers. And as families gathered at the train stop to collect their mail, they almost always had a hankering for ice cream, which Jim’s and Larry’s store sold. They “made tons of money” that summer Jim said, and paid Jim’s dad back in full, with plenty left over for movies with girlfriends, magazines, and records.
The Background Facts
Born in 1933 in Flushing, NY, Jim experienced the end of the Great Depression and the Second World War. He graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in English and continued his studies in drama at Columbia University, where he earned his Master of Arts with honors. From there, Jim took a turn into the corporate world, taking his first job in advertising.
Jim had always had a talent for writing. He would proudly tell of a poem of his being printed in the Perry Herald when he was in the fourth grade. He honed his skills during college years writing a musical as well as numerous plays and short stories. He also worked as a journalist and photographer in Mexico for a specialty magazine. His talent served him well throughout his life: in advertising, where he began as a copywriter then excelled his way to creative director, then president, finally closing out his career as CEO and Board President of a major Rochester advertising agency. His sophisticated advertising writing style and his eye for timely relevance earned him regional, national and international awards.
Jim also spent time after graduating from Columbia teaching writing at Texas Tech in Lubbock and later advanced his studies in Duke University’s dramatic literature doctoral program. During this time, he married his first wife, Frances Rogers. Jim later married Marsha Rogler. He had five children—Allison, David, Dinah, John and Stephen—who now enjoy summers at the cottage at 3873 Janes Avenue.
They Meet Professionally in1980 and Then…
Jim first became acquainted with Jeanne Stillman in Rochester at Hutchins/Y & R, the advertising and marketing firm that Jim then headed. Jeanne grew up in Williamsville, NY, and received her undergraduate degree from SUNY Fredonia and much later in life earned an MS in Education from Nazareth College. Like Jim, she had lived in various cities as an adult, including New York, Atlanta and even Brasilia, Brazil. During her working life, she changed careers several times, holding positions in advertising, public relations, corporate marketing, education and finally, community organizing. After the tragic death of his second wife, Marsha, a strange dream led Jim out of curiosity to google Jeanne’s name, and then email her to find out how life was treating her. And from there, a lunch, an engagement and a wedding in 2006.
Jim died of lung cancer in April 2020, spending his final four days at Suzanne’s Comfort Care and is buried in Glenwood Cemetery. He lived, died and rests eternally physically close to and in the mystical spell of Silver Lake.
Jeanne Elizabeth Stillman Morey
June 18, 2021
Peter Sprague Bergstrom, son of Bill and Marge Bergstrom, grandson of George and Edith Bergstrom, was a true Silver Laker. Peter treasured his summers at Silver Lake. He swam, boated, fished, rafted, played ball in the park, hunted for turtles in the inlet, climbed anything possible, and rode his bicycle everywhere, even to Letchworth State Park: all this done with his brother, Jon.
After graduating from Cortland, as did his Mother and Father, Peter’s wanderlust took him to Europe for many of his adult years. Mostly living in Germany and England he traveled as much as he could. He married the love of his life in London and started a family. He and his family made the trip to Silver Lake in the summer. In 1990 he and his wife, Gill, son, Ander and daughter, Abby returned to this area, buying a home in Pittsford, NY, near his beloved Silver Lake. They all enjoyed many summers experiencing the joys of cottage living on a special lake. His presence is felt every time you walk into Tree Haven Cottage.
For many years, the Nonnebergs made their home along Lakeview Ave where their magnificent view of Silver Lake was unobstructed and Charlie was able to view wakes and waves, seagulls and geese, flares, and fireworks, fish, fishermen, Ice fishermen, boats, skiers, swimmers, a panorama of God’s wonders.
As a retired Methodist minister, Charlie loved the Silver Lake Institute and its long and faith-filled history. He served as a Silver Lake Institute Trustee, the registrar, the bookkeeper and handled details much like the SLI Clerk of today.
Charles Nonnenberg will long be remembered as a man of faith and a man of the Word. He is missed here on the Institute.
One day, in spring of 1981, one of the janitors at the Rochester School for the Deaf where Ed Niedzialek worked had somehow learned of a property on the Silver Lake Institute. Ed mentioned it to his wife Terry and off they went, with their son Scott, in search of this property. A couple of hours later, in the pouring rain, they found the small Victorian home at 12 Fillmore Avenue. They were granted permission to view the home after a series of questions intended on screening their “worthiness” and later that week, a decision was made to purchase the home. After appearing before the Institute Board, approval to purchase the home at 12 Fillmore Avenue was granted. Hence, in July 1982, the Niedzialek family’s history as members of the Silver Lake Institute began.
For the first number of years, the adventure at Silver Lake was much like other new homeowners. The cottage, built almost 100 years prior in 1893, was in need of various repairs. Knob and tube wiring, hot water and sewer lines, the green siding applied to the exterior, foundation repairs and new floors were just a few projects that Ed and Terry tackled on weekend retreats from their Irondequoit home. The first acquaintance they made was neighbor Nelson Palmer, a wise gentleman who was always willing to share his insight (and sometimes critique) on both cottage repair and how to catch and clean a Northern Pike.
Fifteen years of spending weekends at Silver Lake passed and Ed decided to retire from the State of New York educational system in 1998 after more than 35 years of service. Determined not to see snow again, Ed and Terry moved to Wilmington, NC but that did not deter them from spending the summer months at their Silver Lake getaway. Time was spent on their pontoon boat, making day trips to area attractions, reading, and woodcarving. The retreat back to North Carolina was typically towards the end of August or early September, depending on how nice the fall weather was.
Ed and Terry coordinated the Institute auctions, fundraisers that helped with the restoration of Stoody Hall. Terry was a master quilter. She was active with the Silver Lake Piecemakers; one of her quilts hangs in Stoody Hall. Ed and Terry renewed their 50-year wedding vows on the porch of Tom and Jackie Kraft with both pastors presiding. The cottage is now enjoyed by son Scott and grandchildren Michael and Elizabeth.
In 1955 Richard and Phyllis Rudman began their “life at the lake” with her sister and brother-in-law, Avis and Nelson Stanford, when they jointly purchased a cottage in need of much love. The four spent many summers pursuing that labor of love. They took on the challenge of digging a basement by shoveling and moving numerous wheelbarrows of dirt. Filling in another area on the hill became the parking lot. Summers were crowded with projects big and small and many family “work weeks.” Eventually there was even indoor plumbing!
Despite the work, there was always time for fun! We learned to sail, canoe, and water ski. There were frequent dips in the lake, boat rides and, of course, singing around the campfire and enjoying marshmallows toasted to perfection.
Silver Lake will always be a special paradise for us! Thank you for a beautiful family legacy.