SYRACUSE – Edward H. "Gabby" Bielejec, 79, passed away peacefully on December 22, 2021 with his family by his side at the Syracuse VA Medical Center after a year-long battle with cancer.
Ed was born on December 8, 1942, in Little Falls, NY, to the late Edward M. and June (Eske) Bielejec. After the passing of his mother at age 5, Ed was raised by his father and the extended Bielejec family – a family that inspired him through their boundless love and kindness and supported his quest for adventure.
He graduated from Little Falls High School and went on to begin his Bachelor’s from Utica College before joining the military in which he proudly served in the United State Army Special Forces as a Green Beret in the Vietnam War. Upon his return, he completed his Bachelor’s degree and begin his Master’s coursework.
On October 10, 1970, Ed was united in marriage with Diane M. Cifonelli, at St. John the Evangelist Church, in New Hartford. Diane & Ed settled in Frankfort Center with Ed commuting, often by bicycle, to his early teaching job at Clinton Central School District. While he remained a life-long teacher and mentor, he left the classroom in the late 1970s to dedicate himself fulltime to his outdoor sporting goods store, Mountain Sports.
Originally opened in the barn in Frankfort Center, Mountain Sports was the hub of Ed’s life until he retired in the early 2000s. Through the store, Ed shared his unending appreciation of the great outdoors. He taught skiing, climbing & boating lessons, guided trips to Alaska, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, British Columbia (and more), and willingly shared his time, knowledge, and experience with anyone looking to learn or just listen to a good story. In his later years, Ed refocused on his early interests of fly fishing and bow hunting. In his retirement, he practiced these skills daily on a constant mission to improve and as always, share what he learned along the way. Whether he was shooting the bow or telemarking, his greatest joy came from sharing those experiences with the many friends he made along the way.
Ed was an avid and skilled outdoorsman who loved adventure and had a life-long, deep appreciation for nature. His true love for the outdoors lives on in many, especially his children and grandchildren. Ed is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Edward and Helen Bielejec; his two daughters and sons-in-law, Stephanie and Dan Schuster and Emily and Devin Bielejec; five cherished grandchildren, Thea Bielejec, Jane Bielejec, Edward Bielejec, Madelyn Schuster, and Isaac Schuster, his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Robert and Denise Cifonelli; and his nephews, Adam Cifonelli and Michael Cifonelli. He was predeceased by his devoted wife of 47 years, Diane Bielejec in 2018.
A Celebration of Life will be held in the spring. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift in Ed’s honor to the Adirondack Foundation.