If you knew Archie Mielty, you knew he was late for everything. He'd often joke about being late to his own funeral. If you only met him once, you would not easily forget him. He was truly one-of-a kind. He lived true to his word, after suffering cardiac arrest twice on June 18, 2021, he eked out two more months of life, passing on August 18, 2021 in Syracuse, NY at age 87.
Archie was conceived in Ostrobothnia, Finland and born in a sauna at the Pig's Ear Roadhouse in Ovid, New York on September 5, 1933 during the height of the Great Depression. Shortly after his birth, his parents made the difficult decision to leave him in the care of Clinton Pell and family in Interlaken, NY while they returned back to Westchester County to work as domestic help. The following spring, he was reunited with his parents in Seneca County and moved to Harlem where his father was employed as a building superintendent and mother as a cleaner. While in New York City, his sister Eila was born in 1936. They worked hard and saved enough to buy their first farm in the Finger Lakes. Archie's parents bought and sold properties in New York, New Jersey and Maryland before settling in Florida. The Mielty family first came to Lake Worth, FL in 1946. For 75 years, the Mielty's have wintered in Lake Worth, which was once the largest Finnish community outside of Finland with the exception of Stockholm.
Although Archie was a member of the Trumansburg High School Class of 1952, he technically graduated a year earlier. He doubled-up his junior year to graduate early, foregoing his senior year of high school to build houses with his father. Archie was very good with his hands and feet. He could build and fix anything. He would be meticulous with his measurements and strived for perfection in everything he built. He recalled that one of his happiest memories was of him at age 15, building a hydroplane and testing it on Cayuga Lake near Wyers Point. He was drafted to the U.S. Army on April 27, 1953 during the Korean War. He served two years in the service at Fort Bragg, NC, 525 Military Service Group, 195 Intelligence Service Group, Translator 1320. His ability to speak Finnish fluently was an asset while he served our country. He recalls his time in the Army with great pride. There he met his best friend Andy Koski, another American-Finnish soldier. Archie returned home from his military service to continue working for his father, John. Together they built homes in Trumansburg and Lake Worth.
Archie had a life-long love of dance and music. He attended an Arthur Murray Dance School to learn to dance the polka, waltz and schottische. He won dancing contests and loved the 1949 hit "Blue Skirt Waltz". Archie also had an odd and profound appreciation for school yearbooks which he shared with his son, Jim. He collected yearbooks from most every school he attended. Ironically, he was never pictured in a senior yearbook. As a strong, young man, Archie cut down trees and milled his own lumber on Grindstone Island, New York. He built summer cottages with the wood he produced. He sold a few and kept one for himself along with a beautiful farm in the 1,000 Islands. He enjoyed spending summer holidays there with his family. He shared the love of the island and its challenges with his son, John.
In 1961, he built his first house by himself on Congress Street, Trumansburg. It was equipped with a fall-out shelter and large deck, both a first in Trumansburg. Archie built ten additional homes in the area. He developed and built Sunrise Terrace, an incredible neighborhood that served as a safe and happy place to raise his family. In his career, he built over 80 homes, many additions, garages and other buildings. He also gutted and rebuilt many older homes and converted them into apartments. Archie could build everything himself, from the ground up. He enjoyed doing all facets of the building process. He employed countless young men to help him lay blocks and frame structures. He is also credited for teaching many carpenters their trade. Archie could not stand shoddy work. It had to be done right, or not done at all. He loved to work and often boasted that he had done three men's work in his lifetime. He owned and operated rental properties in New York and Florida for over 50 years. He never retired. Up until the last day of his life, he advised his sons on their projects and gave valuable advice, his last being "aika on armas" - time is precious.
Archie was always willing to help anyone in need. His family recalls him dropping everything, at any time, to help others. He was never afraid to get his hands dirty. To a fault, he was very lenient with many of his tenants for paying their rent on-time. "Don't put yourself out" he'd say to people struggling to make ends meet. Although there are some former tenants that stiffed him, he would say that karma will take care of them. He never wished anyone ill-will, just a lot of luck. Archie also had no tolerance for wasting food. He would recall stories from grade school, where some kids would not have lunch or nothing more than a plain mustard sandwich to eat. Being fortunate enough to grow up on a chicken farm, his family always had plenty of chicken. He would share his portions with his hungry classmates, knowing that it was the right thing to do. Throughout his life, Archie would feed countless families who had fallen onto hard times.
Archie was blessed with abundance. He had more of anything than most people should ever have. He had a memory of an elephant. He would recall birthdays, and happenings in great detail, decades later, after only hearing it once. He was a master storyteller and historian of small details of days gone by. He bragged about how many girlfriends he dated, but never about his success. He enjoyed his garden and fruit trees. He claimed that tending to his garden until dusk, was his "poor man's" therapy. He shared the bounty of his land with his neighbors and friends. Even when he was out of town, he would remind his sons to pick cherries, apples and grapes. He hated the thought of wasting God's harvest.
Archie loved Finland. It is where he got his start. He traveled back to Finland, countless times. He embraced his Finnish culture. He loved to dance polkas. Archie enjoyed the Finnish "lavatanssit". He would show up to these summer platform dances late and sober. He would impress the Finnish ladies with the American ability to engage them into small talk and his sharp dance skills. He spoke Finnish fluently, in a 100 year-old dialect from Ostrobothnia, with a Central New York accent.
He was a good father, always supportive of his sons, John and Jim. He saw them through different business ventures, embraced their talents, and encouraged out-of-the-box thinking. He was instrumental in wise decisions, and forgiving of their failures. He would often say "There is always something good that comes from something bad." He taught his boys that "You will meet the same people on the way up as you will on the way down." Archie taught them to be considerate and honest. Since 1988, he worked closely with his son John fixing old houses and running his rental business. His love of yearbooks, was a driving force in encouraging his son Jim, to take a risk in going into the yearbook business in metro-New York. Archie was a proud grandfather. His grandchildren are fifth generation Americans, with 100% Finnish roots. His hope was to see them grow up, speak Finnish to them and instill them with Sisu. He loved his life and was always thankful for the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes. He was always happy to call Trumansburg his home.
Archie is preceded in death by his parents John and Impi Mielty of Lake Worth, FL. He is survived by his son John Mielty of Trumansburg, NY, son Jim Mielty, daughter-in-law Sara Ekman, grandson Luke Mielty and granddaughter Lumi Mielty of Trumansburg, NY, his sister Eila Porter (Harold Porter) of Wilton Manors, FL and his nieces Johanna Porter (Boomer Hess) of Duvall, WA and Lisa Porter (Pati Windowmaker) of Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is also survived by his dear friend Sylvia Shoultes of Grindstone Island, NY, and the mother of his two boys Ritva Mielty of Lake Worth, FL as well as several first cousins in Finland. Archie was grateful for the care and guidance of his former physician Dr. Shern Hart, who retired a few years ago. He would often remind us that she was the smartest person he had ever met and that she was a blessing to our community. He was also grateful for the staff of the VA Medical Centers in West Palm Beach, FL and Syracuse, NY.
In lieu of flowers, please give flowers to someone who is still living. You may consider making a donation to the Trumansburg Central School District for either their school lunch, TRU-CE yearbook or STEAM programs. Be like Archie and always remember to always wear sunscreen, attend reunions, drive carefully and call an old friend today.
The family kindly requests everyone to wear a mask and keep socially distanced for all of his services. Archie will be laid to rest at Grove Cemetery in Trumansburg at 1pm on Saturday, August 28. The family welcomes you to the Trumansburg Farmer's Market afterwards for pullakahvit from 2pm - 4pm to share stories of Archie and enjoy music from Finland. Traditional Finnish kansallispuvut or cheerful attire suggested. Tervetuloa! In keeping with Archie's wishes, he will be a few minutes late.