Bob Gammon, owner of Woodside Orchards, created a proud legacy for his family
Harold Robert “Bob” Gammon, founder of Woodside Orchards in Jamesport, died Aug. 31 at his home in Laurel after battling skin cancer for over 20 years. He was 85 years old. The success of the business has become his legacy for his family and his community.
Woodside Orchards had humble beginnings as a small wholesale apple farm. It was started by Mr. Gammon and his friend John Rose, who planted the orchard in 1982. It was and continues to be a family-owned apple orchard providing fresh fruit and baked goods.
After joining the family business in 2002, Mr. Gammon’s sons, Robert and Scott, purchased property in Aquebogue, creating a second location to help meet the demand for apple picking in the fall. In 2012, this property became a tasting room, where they released Woodside’s first three hard ciders: Traditional, Traditional Sweet, and Raspberry.
The business grew with the family. The two sons and their families helped bake apple pies, cookies and bread, and apple butter and candied apples.
âThe orchard was, I would say, all the family and friends work there, there really aren’t any strangers. All the local people we grew up with, neighbors, friends, everyone you meet in your life who was a good, positive person was kind of sucked in, âsaid Scott Gammon.
He said the death of his father would not lead to many changes in the way the business is run.
âFortunately, over the years my brother and I took over the business and luckily he taught us well,â he said. âSo it will continue like this; that was the plan and the design.
The biggest change, said Scott Gammon, âis that his presence isn’t there. He was 85, so his abilities had diminished but his presence was still very strong.
Granddaughter Gayle Gammon runs the tasting room, working mainly from the Aquebogue site. She also manages Woodside’s social media posts. She said they were working to make the Aquebogue site more of an event venue. Despite all the changes that may arise, she said the family plan to commemorate Mr Gammon at both locations.
“I know that we are planning to set up and create some kind of commemorative plaque at both places,” she said.
Mr. Gammon moved to Long Island from New Jersey in the late 1960s. The family lived in Riverhead for a few years while he was building his house in Laurel with his friends. The family moved to Laurel in 1976. His love of fishing also drew him to the community.
âHis deep roots in the community – from his service to the [former] The school board from Laurel in the ’80s to being one of the founders of the Peconic soccer league in the’ 70s – exemplified their commitment to the community, âsaid her daughter, Laurie. (The Laurel School District merged with Mattituck-Cutchogue in 1997.)
Mr Gammon was diagnosed with his first melanoma in the late 1980s and was successfully treated with radiation therapy, Laurie Gammon said. He has had numerous surgeries over the years to remove various types of skin cancer, including a major surgery 14 years ago to remove a tumor from his face. He then received more radiation, which kept the cancer at bay for a while, she explained.
A recurrence about five years ago required immunotherapy, and a subsequent recurrence caused him to search for proton radiation out of the state. The most recent recurrence, in February, led to more immunotherapies, until last May, when it became apparent that all treatment options had been exhausted. Mr. Gammon had been in palliative care since mid-June of this year.
âMemorial Doctors Sloan Kettering did an amazing job keeping him with us for as long as they could,â said Laurie Gammon.
Despite such a long and difficult battle, family members said Mr Gammon had remained positive and had not let it stop him from living his life the way he wanted.
âHe didn’t let himself be fazed at all,â Gayle Gammon said.