Julia Mary (Eckel) Gafner


Julia Mary (Eckel) Gafner, 86, passed away peacefully on September 24, 2022, in Rome, NY. Julia was born on August 29, 1936, at her family’s homestead in Vienna, NY, to Verne and Margaret Cook Eckel. 

She was a graduate of Camden High School in 1955. On July 16, 1955, she married Randall Albert Gafner, Rome, NY, sharing 64 years of marriage. Julia was a wife and mother who committed herself to providing a loving home, sacrificing her endless time and energy for the betterment of her family. She continuously held her kids and grandkids in mind, whether preparing a meal, driving to sports and music events, or planning a trip. She loved when her children slid-up in the pew beside her at church and when they pulled-up to the kitchen table for a meal. Julia welcomed all to her kitchen table and often poured another cup of coffee, shuffled the deck for Pitch, or simply listened and gave good counsel. She held no degree or job of status, yet impacted everyone that crossed her path. 

Julia held education in the highest regard and viewed life as a chance for betterment and learning. She was a lover of words and knowledge, as she reached for her dictionary or encyclopedias daily. Julia upheld her marriage with integrity and commitment. Known as the “Sap Lady” around New London and Verona, she supported her husband, Randall, as his right-hand man in the production of maple syrup and products for 45 years, supplying many area gift shops & restaurants, and shipping products around the country & world. She was often seen in the Spring collecting sap after dark or snowshoeing to the Sugar Bush with a grandbaby on her back. 

Julia was a devoted member of Rome First United Methodist Church, Rome NY, and served as a Church School teacher. She also volunteered at neighboring churches as a Girl Scout leader and Vacation Bible School teacher. 

Julia was preceded in death by her husband, Randall Gafner; 2 sisters, Lorna Cable, and Marjorie Hart; 1 brother, James Eckel; and her daughter-in-law, Carol Behm Gafner. She is survived by her brother, Aaron Eckel, and sister Ethel Palmer. Julia’s children and grandchildren were the loves of her life. She leaves behind 4 children, Randy Gafner (Alexandria, VA); Alden (Susan) Gafner (Fayetteville, NY); Jeannette (David) Dietrich (Hubbardsville, NY); Amy Runfola (Camden, NY); along with six grandchildren, Peter (Erin) Gafner (Syracuse, NY); David (Maddi)Gafner (Fayetteville, NY); JoEllen (Michael) Sampson (Oriskany, NY); Amber Dietrich (Greenville, NC); Ross Runfola (Forestport, NY); Clara (Tybarius) Harter Runfola (Rochester, NY). She was also blessed to have 5 great-grandchildren, Teagan and Brady Gafner, Luke and Jade Sampson, and Maverick Gafner. 

The family would like to thank the nurses and staff at Betsy Ross Nursing and Rehab Center for Julia’s continued care in the duration of the difficult disease of Alzheimers. Memorial services will be held at a time to be announced. There are no calling hours. Interment will be in Fish Creek Landing Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made in Julia’s name to Rome First United Methodist Church, 400 N. George Street, Rome, New York 13440; or online to the Alzheimers Association, www.act.alz.org/donate. Arrangements are entrusted to Prince-Boyd & Hyatt Home For Funerals, Inc., 210 W. Court Street, Rome, NY.

You may view obituary and send a message of sympathy online at www.princeboydhyatt.com