Central New York is mourning the passing of two local legends who helped restore a 160-year-old cider mill to its former glory.

Howard and Barbara Michaels, who transformed the Fly Creek Cider Mill into a family destination, passed away within a week of one another.

Fly Creek Cider Mill via Facebook
Fly Creek Cider Mill via Facebook

Howard Charles Michaels, the present-day founder of the Mill and 5th generation Cooperstownian, passed away on August 26, at age 89. His wife, Barbara, died shortly after on September 3, at age 85. The two had been married since 1962.

Connection to Fly Creek

Howard, affectionately called Charlie, and Barbara Michaels moved to Fly Creek after marrying over 60 years ago. Shortly after, they acquired the Fly Creek Cider Mill, which had been in operation since 1856.

Prior to securing the mill, Charlie worked as a carpenter who helped construct Cooperstown's Woodland Museum as well as buildings for Bassett Hospital and Hartwick College.

According to his obituary, he "became an independent contractor specializing in home renovations, particularly kitchens, and leaving his mark on numerous Otsego Lake camps."

He put those talents toward renovating, restoring and expanding the cider mill.

What started as a modest endeavor transformed into a beloved agritourism destination, where they pressed apples and created cherished memories with visitors. Their hard work and dedication to the Fly Creek Cider Mill has created a lasting legacy.

Barbara Michael's obituary also highlighted her and her husband's efforts in transforming Fly Creek into a must-see attraction in Central NY.

It was in Fly Creek where Barb and Charlie resurrected the Fly Creek Cider Mill growing it into an iconic Otsego County family destination. She established the Old Mill Studio Shop on the second level, greeting thousands of visitors and tempting them with warm doughnuts heated in a wood-burning stove. Her specialty was dried floral arrangements harvested fresh from her secret farms and fields, earning her the nickname the "weed lady" who often left a bottle of hard cider behind as a thank you.

Since then, families have come to enjoy an eclectic array of specialty foods that sprawl across the historic grounds, Of course, people also rave about the apple cider, apple wines and hard ciders made entirely out of "New York State Grown Apple County Apples."

Although the Michaels retired from the Mill in recent years, Barbara never fully left Fly Creek behind and would help out on busy weekends in the fall.

The couple leaves behind two children, four grandchildren and a great granddaughter.

Their lives were honored via a private family celebration. They were laid to rest  at Lakewood Cemetery as well as their beloved Canada Lake.

In lieu of flowers, it was Barbara's wish for everyone to consider making a donation to Mountain Valley Hospice in Gloversville, or to donate blood to the American Red Cross.

Memory trees can be purchased at the Sympathy Store to be planted in the Michaels' memory.

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