Gary R. Exford

January 11, 1946 ~ April 22, 2023 (age 77) 77 Years Old


Gary R. Exford, 77, of Watertown, NY, passed away April 22, 2023 at his home where he was under the care of Hospice of Jefferson County and surrounded by his loving family.

He was born on January 11, 1946 in Carthage, NY son of Leland and Allison (Fleming) Exford, and he attended Carthage Central School.

He married Carol L. Johnson of Holland Patent, NY, on June 15, 1963 at the Stittville Methodist Church. The couple resided in Watertown most of their married lives where they and several members of the Exford family owned and operated Parkview Market for ten years. Gary later delivered and sold Tip Top Bread and Wise Potato Chips. Finally he became an independent food distributor for Little Debbie Snack Cakes. ¨Papa Cakes¨, as he was known by his grandkids, became a fixture in the Fort Drum and Watertown community for 32 years making countless friends as he built this very successful business. After retiring, he drove a school bus for Freeman Bus Corp and had the opportunity to drive his grandchildren to many of their sporting events.

Gary took part in many activities including bowling. Gary was very successful in the sport demonstrated by his memberships in the 700 Club and The New York Bowling Hall of Fame. He and Carol loved to spend summers at their cottage at Knobby Knoll in Sackets Harbor and going out on the boat. At ¨The Knoll¨, Gary and Carol formed countless treasured friendships that they still have today. The last five years he and his wife wintered in St. Simons Island, GA where they had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people and new friends. ¨Big Fred¨, another one of his nicknames, loved to play golf with his sons and many friends and was always ready to have a good time with his pipe and cooler by his side. His most treasured joy was spending time with family.

Among his survivors are his beloved wife, Carol L. Exford, Watertown, NY; three children and their spouses, Jeff (Lori) Exford, Harrisville, NY, Brian (Afton) Exford, Catoosa, OK, and Vicky (Chad) Kolb, Watertown, NY; 11 grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Besides his parents he is predeceased by three brothers, Donald, Carlton, and Colin Exford.

Arrangements are with the Hart & Bruce Funeral Home. It was Gary’s wish to be cremated and to have a celebration. A Celebration of Life will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Watertown Elks Lodge on Thursday, April 27th.

Donations may be made to Hospice of Jefferson County 1398 Gotham St., Watertown, NY 13601.

Online condolences may be made at

The family would like to extend their sincere appreciation to Hospice of Jefferson County, Samaritan Home Health, the Kellogg family at Watertown Internist, and the care team at St. Simons Island.

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