Visitation - Thursday *** April 21st, 2-4:30 & 7-9:30 p.m. at our West Sayville location , 245 Montauk Hwy. West Sayville, NY
Chapel Service - 8:00 p.m. Thursday *** April 21st at the Funeral Home.
Interment - Maple Grove Cemetery, Kew Gardens, NY
Agnes Marie Blyselth Rysdyk
April 26, 1930-April 10, 2022
Agnes Marie Blyseth Rysdyk was the second surviving child of Norwegian immigrants, Tonny Kristianna Johannesen and Martin Andreas Jaeger Olausen Blyseth. Born in the Floral Park, NY home that her carpenter father built, she enjoyed a happy childhood. Some of her favorite stories were of pushing a baby carriage with pieces of wood snatched from her father’s workshop as “babies;” having a pet cat named Pûte (pillow), who she’d dress in doll’s clothes and the annual “Ragamuffin Day Parade” when children would dress in rags and go door to door to beg for sweets. (This New York Metro tradition occurred at Thanksgiving, but eventually moved back a month and evolved into our more familiar Halloween trick or treating!)
Initially questioned by her teachers about her pronunciation of some words that echoed her parent’s strong accents, Agnes proved herself to be an excellent student and in 1948 graduated from Sewanhaka High School.
After graduation, Agnes worked in New York City for the American Home Products Company as an office clerk. There, she developed a group of wonderful women friends who joined her in fun and with whom she vacationed each summer in Sag Harbor.
Although Agnes went to high school with the man she later married, it was her car that truly brought them together! Back then, Agnes drove a nearly twenty-year-old, hand-me-down jalopy that she had received from her father. The car often needed work, and the 6’7” tall, handsome guy who ran the Stop 20 Cities Service station in Elmont, New York was a great mechanic! As a 6’1” tall, woman, that was an opportunity she couldn’t miss. Once the car was tended to, Agnes and Edmund Charles Rysdyk, Jr. dated for a while and in 1953 married and moved down the street from the service center.
In 1955, they had their first child, Evelyn Carol Rysdyk. In 1957 a second daughter arrived, Edith Christina Rysdyk. Their third daughter, Elaine Cheryl Rysdyk Inman arrived in 1961. During this time period, Agnes cared for the children and worked in the home. Not simply a housewife, she managed the bookkeeping for the service station and having some artistic talents, also painted the large windows on the service center’s office for holidays.
When the Cities Service center burned to the ground in the middle of the night, she helped the family regroup. Ed had the offer to manage a station in Bellmore, New York which meant a longer commute. Since they had also outgrown their small apartment, they began searching for a new place to live. In the fall of 1965, the family moved to Holbrook, New York.
As her daughters grew, she eventually returned to working outside the home. In the early 1970s, she went to work for the Sachem School District. There, she quickly rose from personal staff assistant, to clerk typist and finally to a senior clerk typist position. During her time at the district, a growing concern among the office staff was the pay inequity between the custodial staff and the clerical staff. The office staff that held greater responsibility for the schools’ security and teaching support were being paid less than the men who cleaned the school. Agnes connected with Women on the Job to stay enthusiastic and to get ready for negotiations with the school district. Unfortunately, they weren’t supported by a union. As this process wore on, Agnes worked with a few other members to create the Sachem Office Staff Association of which she later became president and spokesperson. Becoming the voice for the new union she rallied the staff from all of the district’s schools. Their dogged attempts to negotiate better pay culminated in a general strike! Eventually, she and her SOSA sisters got much of the staff’s demands met and the little union was eventually embraced by a national workers union.
Her adventures certainly didn’t stop there.
Over the course of her life, she also went saltwater fishing and hunted deer with her sportsman, husband. As a result, the family had no want of fresh fish and venison! She lived for a time as a snowbird in Florida and upon the death of Ed tried new things on her own. One of these adventures was to drive to Maine to study shamanism including with indigenous shamans from Tuva and Nepal.
During her early years together with Ed and his family, Agnes heard a pivotal story from her husband’s grandfather that would lead her to a life-long passion. He shared that the family was related to the owner of the famous trotter, Hambletonian. In addition, there had been a few heirlooms that had been lost along the way including a pair of pearl-handled dueling pistols, a Rysdyk family bible and a painting of Hambletonian with his owner. As an avid mystery story fan, she decided to research the family history for clues. This search became a long genealogical search lasting nearly 70 years. Using the tools available at the time, she searched church records by hand, scrolled through miles of microfiche and mailed checks to clerks from around the country and beyond for certificates of deaths and births. When she got to the Norwegian side of the family, she had a co-worker who could read Old Norwegian who gave her help with the material she found. Over the course of her research, she discovered detailed trails of ancestors going back to the late 1500’s for her husband’s and her own family.
When she was in her later 80’s, she gave copies of her genealogical opus to each of her daughters.
In her long life, Agnes touched the hearts of many. She was funny, creative, loved her family, was resourceful in those times money was short, and always provided a gentle counterpoint to Big Ed’s larger-than-life personality. Always very curious by nature, Agnes never lost her sense of wonder about the world.
She was predeceased by her parents, her sisters Agnes Eloise Blyseth and Doris Lillian Blyseth Deveau and also by her husband Edmund C. Rysdyk, Jr.
She is survived by her brother Martin Conrad Blyseth, his wife Priscilla and family, her children Evelyn C. Rysdyk and her wife Allie, Edith C. Rysdyk and her husband Joe and Elaine C. Rysdyk Inman and her husband Chris. She is also survived by her grandson, Brandon James Inman and his wife Taylor, her granddaughter Emily Rose Inman and her husband Tom, their daughter, Olivia Rose Inman Oliver; as well as all of her many nieces and nephews.
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