Young Theodore Sayre
was educated locally, completing his
training at the DeLancey Institute of Westmoreland
and immediately entering his
father's hardware business at the age of 17.But his
interests included public service.At age 26, he
became a city alderman, and later in 1874, he
was elected to the office of mayor.
The following year, he
won a seat in the New York state Senate.As Utica's mayor, he was instrumental in disconnecting police and fire employees from political interest by creating the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, on which he would later serve.
As were so many others engaged in public service, Sayre
was also active in a number of local organizations, both for business and community betterment purposes.These included the Utica and Black River Railroad Company, the Utica-Willowvale Bleachery, the Oneida National Bank, and the Savings Bank of Utica
was known to have provided his
services to the latter for many years without compensation.
As president of the Utica Bible Society
, and determined to spread the word of God, he
is said to have provided a Bible for every room in every local hotel for the convenience of travelers.The society itself purchased a large number of Bibles sufficient to supply a copy to anyone in the county who wanted one.Sayre was a trustee for the Home for Aged Men and Couples and also for the Old Ladies Home.He
was equally interested in the young as well and gave generously to both the Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations
.A bachelor throughout his
memberships in the Fort Schuyler Club
and the Oneida Historical Society
, later the Oneida County Historical Society
is best remembered for having built and equipped a church at the corner of Court Street and Sunset Avenue, turning over that property to the Presbyterian Society of Utica
which organized in 1868, in memory of his
father.Dedicated in 1884, the house of worship was named the Sayre Memorial Presbyterian Church and served the congregation until the late 1970s, when its doors were closed for the last time.
The Rev. William Griffith, father of former state Regent Emlyn Griffith, served as pastor of Sayre Memorial
and was one of the many in attendance at the last service held there.
Truly a local philanthropist with deep religious convictions, Sayre
was especially concerned with the plight of the needy.In addition to the Thanksgiving turkeys with which he
blessed so many families for so many years, he
paid equal attention to the Christmas holidays, buying and personally delivering food baskets to those in need.Most always accompanied by the Rev. Dana Bigelow, the gift baskets each contained sufficient food for the holidays as well as for many dinners thereafter.