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Advertise on the Tentacle

June 22, 2015

Calvin E. Sayler R.I.P.

John W. Ashbury

[Editor’s Note: Calvin Sayler will be laid to rest today following services at the Stauffer Funeral Home in Thurmont. The piece below was first publish in The Glade Times and Mountain Mirror on February 14, 1990.]


About 400 years ago a slight, balding man with a beard sat in his small living quarters and penned immortal words. He was writing a play about the greatest Roman of them all – Julius Caesar.

In a speech he attributed to Marc Anthony at the funeral of the great conqueror, William Shakespeare wrote in part:

The evil that men do lives after them

The good is oft interred with their bones.

Well, Shakespeare never met Calvin Sayler, who has been as inspiration to generations of Thurmont residents with his acceptance of civic responsibility; by his kindness as an employer; and by the considered advice he freely gave, which turned out to be so very correct.

At a surprise luncheon last Friday at The Cozy, about 30 of his longtime friends gathered to honor this man who would have objected strenuously had he known what was planned.

For, above all else, Calvin Sayler is a private man who seeks not recognition for the good he has done, nor acclaim for his contributions to his community and his fellow man.

There are those in the Thurmont Area who will never know that Calvin made their success possible; those who are unaware that the Little League uniforms they wore were purchased with his donations; those whose medical care in their own community was aide immensely by his planning expertise; those whose efforts in the Future Farmers of America and the 4-H were successful because Calvin saw to it that those groups survived in Thurmont; those who enjoyed employment at the Claire Frock factory, working for a man who understood what it meant to put in a 16-hour day; and those who saw this tall, wiry man on the street, never really knowing that he had given so much of himself to his community.

Calvin was born on a farm, which he still owns – In rocky ridge. He attended school there for one year before going to Thurmont for the balance of his formal education. While a student he and his team won numerous contests for the Thurmont chapter of the FFA.

And soon after graduation he entered the armed forces and served overseas during this century’s greatest conflict – World War II. When he was discharged he came home and married his high school sweetheart – Ruth. He worked in Pennsylvania for a few years as a salesman, but on Christmas Eve 1950, he quit his job, determining that what he was doing wasn’t what he really wanted.

He returned to Thurmont for the last time and was talked into working for Jules Bernstein at Clare Frock. He established and ran the shipping department and, years later, when Bernstein retired to Florida, Calvin stepped into the front office and took over the whole shooting match.

Eventually he became the owner, operating one of Frederick County’s most successful businesses. About three years ago he sold the company to a New York firm, but he stayed on as the general manager.

And just three weeks ago, he retired. That Friday he came to the Shamrock for his weekly luncheon with a few long standing friends with a special hitch in his step and a smile that seemed broader than usual.

He proudly stuck out his hand to those present, accepting congratulations for finally making the decision to leave the work-a-day world to spend more time doing only those things he really wanted to do.

Protesting that he had made the decision reluctantly, he seemed truly relieved to be rid of the aggravation that every day was bringing to his life in recent months. He wanted to stay home with his wife, caring for her and helping her to overcome a serious illness.

Calvin doesn’t talk much about his private life. But when he does, his love of family shines through. He is so very proud of his daughter and grandchildren, but he never burdens a listener with unending tales of their accomplishments.

Harry Rosenfeld, the developer and owner of the 7th Street Shopping Center in Frederick, who died recently, began an award several years ago called “The Golden Hand of Friendship.” This prize goes to deserving citizens who have given so much of themselves to the Frederick County Community without seeking praise or even recognition for a job well done.

It wasn’t long before Calvin was tricked into going to dinner at the Holiday Inn by Sterling E. Bollinger, Sr., a friend and confident of many years. And when he realized what was happening, his face turned red and his chin rested uncomfortably on his chest.

He was embarrassed. For he never did anything for anybody with the idea that his name would be put up in lights. He just wanted to help. And help he did.

Uncovering all that he has done is an impossible task. Many say that “this” or “that” was accomplished by Calvin; that Calvin contributed handsomely with a check to this project or that; that this student or that who wanted to go to college had been able to do so because of Calvin Sayler.

No one knows all the facts. For Calvin Sayler is one rare breed of men and women who just want to do  whatever they can, in whatever capacity, to see that the job gets done, to savor the satisfaction as its own reward.

When Bernie Adams died unexpectedly a little over a month ago, I regretted so very deeply that I had never thought to express to him how very much I thought of him, how very much he had influenced my life, how very proud I was to have been able to know a man such as he.

And I determined that I would never let this happen again. For all too frequently we sit in our comfortable chairs and think to ourselves how this person or that has been a genuine influence on us, how just a minuscule act or word in the total scheme of things had led us to major decisions in our own lives.

Calvin Sayler is one of those people for me. I hope that you will forgive these personal comments, but they must be said. It is so very easy to say wonderful things about someone after they are gone. And yet it is so difficult to say the same things when you know that the next day or the next week you will once again be amazed by another act of kindness, another act of giving, another act of love.

And, so, Calvin Sayer, as you embark on your retirement to the days of rest and quietude, here’s to you. Thanks for all you have done to make Thurmont and the entire county a much better place in which to live. Thanks for giving to so many things which you hold near and dear. Thanks for seeking the good instead of the bad in all of us.

Thanks for just being Calvin Sayler. There should be more like you.

Shakespeare was wrong in his play. The good that you have done will live long after you are gone.


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