Deacon John J. Baterbury


Deacon John J. Baterbury, who served for more than 25 years at Sacred Heart parish in Suffern, died April 14. He was 85. A retired New York City police officer when he was ordained to the diaconate in 1984, Deacon Baterbury performed duties at the parish and regularly visited patients at Good Samaritan Hospital and a local nursing home in Suffern. He also was a foster father to as many as two dozen young men over the years, many of them refugees from Southeast Asia. Auxiliary Bishop Gerald T. Walsh, vicar of North Manhattan and pastor of St. Elizabeth's, offered the Funeral Mass at Sacred Heart on April 17. Msgr. Joseph R. Giandurco, the pastor, delivered the homily. Deacon Baterbury, who never married, began taking in Vietnamese and American teenage boys around 1980, with the Vietnamese boys placed with him by St. Dominic's Home in Blauvelt under an unaccompanied refugees program and the American boys placed by the Division for Youth in Yonkers. He sometimes had charge of up to five boys at one time, and was a sought-after foster parent by the child welfare agencies because he was willing to take the older boys who were so accustomed to freedom that they needed special care. One of the boys, Johnny La, who is now married and has two children, remained part of the Baterbury extended family and is his closest survivor. Deacon Baterbury, who was a World War II Army veteran, served his entire 20 years as a New York police officer in the traffic division in Lower Manhattan. He lived in Brooklyn and cared for his parents and grandmother until 1964, when he moved to Rockland County. Burial was in Ascension Cemetery in Airmont.



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