Kenneth J. Tabor

1945 - 2023

HARTWICK – On April 2, 2023, after 77 years in service of John Christopher Hartwick’s promise of a New Jerusalem, Kenneth James Tabor finally earned a day off -- but just one, because the alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m., and there is a horse to feed and wood to cut.

Kenneth was born on September 22, 1945, to Elmer and Annabelle (Dibble) Tabor of Hartwick, New York. With Orlo Burch, Darrell Risley, Wayne Bunn, and John Winslow, Ken pressed his feet against every inch of soil from Main Street to the depths of the Hinman Hollow, raising Hell just within the bounds of his Methodist upbringing, and too many times only barely coming out alive.

Ken was an exceptional flanker for the Cooperstown High School football team who blended the qualities of rubber and concrete to earn an offer to play NCAA football; he was enshrined along with his 1962 teammates in the CCS Athletics Hall of Fame. He opted instead to enlist in the United States Navy at 17, and after graduating boot camp on the day of President Kennedy’s assassination, he reported to the USS Perry (DD-844). Ken excelled in electronics and became a Veteran of Foreign Wars through service in the Dominican Republic.

He met his wife Mary (Kane) the day after his release from the service. They were married for the remaining 55 years of his life. 

Ken worked at IBM in Endicott before opting for an outdoor job with New York Telephone. As a lineman and cable splicer, Ken compiled an encyclopedic knowledge of every dirt road, home, and family in Otsego County. Across four decades, he did what he said he’d do, when he said he’d do it, and never left a house out of service -- and eventually worked with his son at Verizon until his retirement. While acting as a foreman, a payroll error resulted in no one receiving a paycheck, including Ken. He went to the bank, withdrew all he could, and divided his money amongst the men to have until they got paid. 

He built his ranch-style home on Christian Hill after work at night and on weekends along with Mary, her father Ken Kane, and her uncle Leon. He was a witness to and participant in all endeavors of Hartwick and its hills, from fishing, trapping, and coon hunting to successfully navigating tenuous relationships with game wardens and snowmobiling law enforcement.

Ken was also an unshakable bowler who won the Cooperstown Winter Carnival Tournament four times with two of his sons. He was an uncannily good shot with both his Yorx bow and Belgian Browning Auto-5, and he committed his mind and body to every physical endeavor. He lifted weights, played softball, ran, and questioned no burden. When walking across hot coals in karate training blistered the entirety of both his feet, he went to work the next day.

When Ken wasn’t working, he was working. No soul who has sprouted from the loins of Old England District has ever, or will likely ever, achieve Ken’s unlimited capacity for physical labor -- and especially without complaint. He cloaked under a flannel shirt a powerful, indefatigable body built through kindness and obligation; it was only revealed through the completion of labors and preparation for the next one. To his final day, he paradoxically maintained the strength of a man a third of his age despite fueling his body almost exclusively with Sal’s pepperoni and mushroom pizza and Stewart’s ice cream.

In his retirement, Ken earned a degree in Carpentry from SUNY Delhi and worked the grounds of the Glimmerglass Opera. He spent years in his woodshop doting on a succession of adopted cats, most notably the orange stray OC, who rode on his shoulder everywhere he walked.

Ken never burdened his grandchildren with the word “no,” and he attended every one of their sporting events, plays, and performances, just as he did for all of his sons. He read and acquired knowledge prodigiously, especially related to local history -- two of his most prized books were Campbell’s “Annals of Tryon County” and BC Stevens’ “Tales from Hinman Hollow.” He transferred that knowledge through stories of his life, which appeared to be a series of yarns too fantastic to believe -- until the years revealed, both deliberately and accidentally, that they all checked out.

Ken continues to live in Hartwick through his wife Mary and their three boys, Jeffrey, Jason, and Matthew; his brother Gordon; and his grandchildren Allison, Jacob, Peyton, and Lucas. 

The Tabor family will receive friends from 11a.m. to 1p.m. on Saturday, April 8, 2023, at the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home, 82 Chestnut Street, Cooperstown. At the conclusion of the visitation, a funeral service will be held at 1p.m. at the funeral home. The service of committal and burial with Military Honors will follow at Hartwick Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Ken’s memory be made to the Susquehanna SPCA at, or donations of cat food to your local animal shelter.

If you would like to send condolences to the family, send an email to Connell, Dow & Deysenroth. We will forward your comments to the family. If you would like to send flowers in memory of the deceased, contact Mohican Flowers at (607) 547-8822, or A Rose is a Rose at (607) 264-3100.