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INDIAN LAKE -- Wayne V. Hutchins, a lifelong outdoorsman, skilled logger, beloved father and proud native of Indian Lake, died of a heart attack Sunday, July 9, 2023, while camping and fishing in his favorite place on Earth, the Cedar River Flow. He was 78 years young.
For years, Wayne was much in demand among logging contractors in the Adirondacks where he was known for his hard work and honesty, his knowledge of the woods and his prodigious capacity for work. He took great pride in being able to fell many more trees in a day than much younger men, even in the subzero cold of an Adirondack winter. Wayne was also a skilled welder and construction worker, and he owned and operated a carpet cleaning business with a loyal clientele of homeowners, churches, and convenience stores across the Adirondacks. He also worked with his brothers in their logging and flooring businesses.
He was a man of great respect and compassion, a listener who loved to meet new friends. He could find a connection with anyone. He was a defender of the underdog and there wasn’t a person he wouldn’t help. He thought deeply and sincerely about the problems of others and often devoted his time to those who were struggling. He tried to find the good in everyone. He was a man of deep faith and studied the Bible (and the Concordance) frequently with his crooked reading glasses and a furrowed brow, forever trying to unlock its mysteries and apply them to his life.
The outdoors was his true home. He loved to camp and fish and couldn’t wait for spring to come each year so he could get back to the Cedar River Flow. He took great pride in knowing the hidden spots where the fish were plentiful, but was selective about who he told. He was a legend in the Flow, a true mountain man with a bushy, unkempt white beard, a shock of unruly hair, and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He slept in a homemade camper that he built from used steel roofing, and fished for hours a day from his battered canoe. He cooked up the fish he caught on a little woodstove in his camper, and he gave away more than he kept for himself. (A special thanks to the Rangers who kept an eye on him and looked the other way when he stayed a couple days over the limit or “forgot” to get a permit.)
He was a tinkerer. He loved to repair and rebuild cars, trucks, boats, lawnmowers, tractors – anything with a flicker of life left in it. Most of his vehicles remained roadworthy only because of his ingenious mechanical intervention. He was an excellent gardener and loved to cook, enough so that he enrolled in the culinary program at Adirondack Community College in the 90s. He kept odd hours and was known to bake a pie or start a roast at two or three in the morning.
He was a beloved and devoted father. He earned the freewheeling lifestyle he enjoyed later in life by being an exemplary father to his children. He worked hard at being the best dad he could be, always reading books and seeking knowledge to better himself and do right by his family. “If you don’t know it, you can’t do it,” he always said. He taught his kids -- by example -- the values of hard work, loyalty, integrity, and honesty. He also taught them to catch smelt by rappelling down the rocks at Squaw Brook, and that the proper way to operate a chainsaw was to just “hold on tight.” He told them there was nothing they couldn’t do if they put their minds to it, and he truly believed that. He was proud of his family. And we are proud of him.
We love you, Daddy. You finally caught the big one.
Wayne was the son of Ernest C. Hutchins and Ethel (Decker) Hutchins. Mr. Hutchins Sr. was a sawyer and a builder, and for many years the supervisor of the Town of Indian Lake. Mrs. Hutchins was a loving, patient mother of six boys and three girls. Wayne and his siblings grew up at the family homestead in Big Brook. He loved to tell the stories of their exploits, of which there were many.
Wayne was predeceased by his brothers Kip and Pete and he missed them dearly.
His survivors include his son Jonathan and his wife Linda of Indian Lake; his daughter Tara and her partner Mark Behan of Saratoga Springs; his brothers John Hutchins and his wife,
Irene, of Indian Lake, Joseph Hutchins and his wife, Brenda, of Bradenton, Fla., Paul Hutchins and his wife, Katie, of Indian Lake; his sisters Ellen Peterson and her husband, Michael, of Lakeland, Fla., Sharon Flower of Ohio, Rebecca Hoffman and her husband, Edward, of Pennsylvania; his former wife and mother of his children, Connie (Campbell) Rood of Indian Lake; and many, many nieces and nephews.
The family will receive relatives and friends at the Miller Funeral Home at 6357 State Route 30 in Indian Lake on Saturday, August 19, from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by a brief service and remarks by Pastor Daniel Mayner of the Independent Baptist Church of Indian Lake.
After the service, all are invited to a celebration of Wayne’s life at a yet to be determined location. But fair warning - you might want to wear comfortable clothes and bring a fishing pole. Transportation will be provided for those who need it.
In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations to an Adirondack charity of one’s choice.