John Brayton Olney | Daily Sentinel of Rome


John Brayton Olney (Jack) of Westernville, 93, died February 21, 2022, surrounded by family and friends. He was born on October 26, 1928 in Rome, NY, the son of George J. and Katharine Floyd Olney. He was proud to be a direct descendant of General William Floyd, signer of the Declaration of Independence, which led to a lifelong passion for researching his family’s genealogy.

Jack graduated in the class of Rome Free Academy in 1946 and Cornell University in 1951 with a BS in Agriculture. While at Cornell, he was a member of the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity. He was drafted into the army and received an honorable discharge in 1953. After college, he worked in the family vegetable canning business at the Olney and Floyd Canning factory. During the winter months, he worked in the company founded by his father, GJ Olney, Inc., manufacturing food processing machinery. He traveled all over the country and abroad to sell the machines built in Westernville. After his father’s death in 1974, he ran the business with his two brothers until his retirement in 1999.

In 1954, Jack planted spruce trees in a field next to his home and for nearly 60 years he hosted hundreds of families as they searched his property for the perfect Christmas tree at Olney’s Tree Farm.

The RFA 1946 De-O-Wain-Sta has a caption under his senior photo that reads “John has a daughter everyone knows the name of, could it be Ann?” Ann is Lillian Ann Smith, a farmer’s daughter who lived just up the street. On February 10, 1951, Jack married the love of his life, Lillian Ann Smith. Jack and Ann recently celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary.

Jack was a member of the Westernville Presbyterian Church and served as an administrator for many years.

He was a founding member and former leader of Vol. Fire Co. of Western and also served on the board of directors. He was also a member of Rome Elks Lodge #96, Baron Steuben Lodge #264, Ft. Stanwix Hose Co. No. 2 and was a member of the descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was manager of the Bear Brook Club in Piercefield, NY.

Jack loved the outdoors, whether it was fishing, hunting, camping, snowmobiling or tending to his garden and Christmas trees. He traveled regularly to Quebec to fish at Club Dumoine and go snowmobiling in Saint-Zénon. He could often be found at his hunting camp in the Adirondacks with his family and friend Joe Siegel. He was an avid canoeist, who involved all of his sons in marathon canoe racing. Of the many races he did, he was most proud of completing the 70-mile General Clinton and the 90-mile Adirondack Classic.

He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Lillian Ann Olney; sons and daughters-in-law, David and Ellen Olney, Mark and Jeannine Olney, Paul and Christine Olney; and his daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Phil Haggart; grandchildren and their spouses, Josh and Jillian Olney, Andrea and Triana DeJesus Olney, Austin and Mandy Facchin Olney, Patricia and Michael Kapps, Tabitha Haggart, Timothy and Melissa Haggart, Dustin and Lisa Haggart, Amanda and Andrew Johnston and JoAnn Olney. Jack is also survived by 19 great-grandchildren and his brothers, George Olney and Floyd Olney. He was predeceased by his parents and sisters, Eleanor Hladun and Katharine Sterling.

The family would like to thank Dr. Brian Alessi, Dr. Michael Fries, Roberta Shapiro and Larry Palinski for their help and compassion in Jack’s final days.

Roll call hours will be Thursday, February 24, 2022 at Westernville Presbyterian Church from 2 to 4 p.m. and funeral will follow at 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Westernville Presbyterian Church, PO Box 190, Westernville, NY or Western Town Library, PO Box 247, Westernville, NY 13486.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Nunn and Harper Funeral Home, Inc., 418 N. George St., Rome.

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