A Tribute To Dr. Bernard McEvoy

Jan 15, 2024

On December 31st, 2023, Vale Cemetery and the greater community at large lost a beloved friend, Dr. Bernard “Bernie” McEvoy. Dr. McEvoy and his wife Barbara worked tirelessly for Vale Cemetery for over 20 years.

Their efforts saved the caretaker’s house from demolition and worked to achieve financial stability for the cemetery. He obtained grant funding from various institutions including the Wright, Carlilian, Broughton and Schenectady Foundations as well as the New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Preservation League of New York and the Schenectady County Initiative. These grants helped to fund projects such as the paving of roads, the installation of brick pillars and wrought iron fencing, video surveillance, the placement of kiosks throughout the cemetery, a historic landscape study and the expansion of the crematory.

Another critical element involved out-reach; getting prominent individuals and organizations engaged with our urban park and historic treasure nestled in the City of Schenectady. During his tenure with Vale Bernie worked with organizations such as the Hamilton Hill Arts Center, Community Fathers, and Roots & Wisdom just to name a few. Dr McEvoy looked to re-establish connections put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He kept going strong until the very end, embodying his tenacious and caring spirit.

Below are kind remembrances of Dr. McEvoy testifying to the great impact he had on everyone he met.

“Bernie, or Dr. McEvoy, was truly committed to transforming the Vale’s reputation from perilous to secure, from financial instability to stability…Our paths crossed when I initiated a class on gravestone cleaning and sought a venue.

I reached out to Bernie, and he graciously offered the Vale as a host for these classes…our relationship blossomed into a meaningful friendship.”

- Melody Howarth
“Dr. McEvoy and Dr. Wells would be in the back of their office mixing up some kind of concoction to ease my painful topical eczema…When they went their separate ways, I stayed with Dr. McEvoy. I attended graduate school in Omaha, Nebraska, he put me in contact with a dermatologist…A kind, caring person and a great conversationalist. ‘He fought the good fight, he finished the race and he kept the faith...’ 2 Timothy 4:7-8”

- Julia Holcomb
“It is hard to give the Doc his due respect and love…During the many years I volunteered at the cemetery, I have never known a person more considerate and compassionate of others…He was always striving to maintain and enhance the cemetery. I loved his many stories but his love for the cemetery and its history will always be most precious to me.”

-Marion Clas
“Dr. McEvoy was both a friend of historic preservation and a wonderful person. A long time board member of Schenectady Heritage Foundation, he and his wife Barbara, were largely responsible for the revitalization of Vale Cemetery…While Bernie was honored with a ‘Patroon’ award from Schenectady for his civic volunteerism, other charitable work was done ‘under the radar,’ expecting no recognition. And he did it all with his unique sense of humor.”

-Gloria Kishton- Chair, Schenectady Heritage Foundation
“The Dr., as he was called, was instrumental in supporting us and ‘The Male Achievers Program’ we developed for young leaders within our community. Dr. McEvoy was a partner in our changing the area known as The Old Colored Plot to what is now known as the African American Burial Ground…The Schenectady Juneteenth Celebration begins with the ceremony at Vale Cemetery. Dr. McEvoy was an integral part of various ways in which the Burial Ground and the ceremony has evolved. His absence this year will leave a gap.”

-Community Fathers, Inc
“I fondly remember when I first met Dr. McEvoy: it was at a career fair at Union College in the spring of 2011…he was looking for a student intern to help conduct historical research at Vale. One year later, I found myself arriving on the front steps of the former caretaker's house each week, and touring the grounds…That summer, our collaborative historical research paid off through the national recognition of Moses Viney's journey to emancipation and his final resting place at Vale…He especially inspired me through his passion for and commitment to the local history, environment, and community…I am certain that Dr. McEvoy's impact will continue to be felt at Vale and in Schenectady at large for many years still to come.”

-Erica Fugger

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