Cyrus Thomas Hyde was born in Totowa, NJ on April 5, 1930 to James J. and Alida Jane (Berdan) Hyde. He passed away on June 19, 2020 surrounded by his family.
Cyrus grew up learning the lore of herbs, starting from his great-great-great-great grandmother, Clara Van Houten (who cared for George Washington and his troops). He had a photographic memory and loved nothing more than to share his love and knowledge with all. There were no strangers to Cyrus, just friends yet to be met.
As a young man he loved his horses and taught himself trick riding. His favorite horse was Hoteewa, named for the arrowhead marking on his neck. Throughout his youth, Cyrus had a series of jobs that fit his personality perfectly: he was a milk tester for local dairies, a milkman and finally an herbalist for the gardens at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, NJ.
He and his wife of 60 years Louise purchased 4 ¼ rundown acres in Port Murray, NJ to make their farming dreams come true. Over the years the couple grew Well-Sweep Herb Farm to 120 acres, and are known for their unique and hard to find herbs. Their work includes a formal Elizabethan Knot garden, display herb gardens, garden events and tours. Cyrus also developed his own unique strains of herbs including Cy's Everblooming Lavender, Well-Sweep Miniature Purple Basil, Well-Sweep Pink Queen Anne's Lace, Well-Sweep Golden Lemon Crispum Geranium, and Cy's Sunburst Lemon Crispum Geranium.
Cy was a sought-after lecturer throughout the United States at garden clubs, herb conventions and botanical gardens. In 1998 he was the featured speaker at the 10th annual Audrey Harkness O'Connor Lecture series at Cornell University and in 2003 at James Madison University. He has spoken at the New York Botanical Garden and Minnesota Arboretum. In 1991, he received the Nancy Putnam Howard Award for Excellence in Horticulture from the Herb Society of America and in 2008 the Otto Richter Memorial Lecture Award from the International Herb Association.
Cyrus was well known as a major US breeder of the unique Japanese long-tailed Onagadori and Phoenix chickens. His display birds, always referred to by Cy as Big Guy, stood on the arms of many a visitor as their stunning 6 ft+ tails made for a lasting photo and experience. His flock is carried on by his grandson, Patrick McDuffee.
Cyrus' love and curiosity for people and their cultures made him a steadfast friend. He loved nothing more than to speak to a group of people, asking questions about them and their lives. He would insist that the group smell different herbs and relate to his audience the histories and uses for each. At the end of the conversations, the participants would remain lifelong connections.
Cyrus had a passion for all foods of the world and frequently turned a restaurateur into a lifelong friend with both sharing their histories, love of food and herbs. Cyrus had a unique gift to talk to anyone and instantly connect with them no matter where they came from or what language they spoke. He was often hosting friends from around the world with language transcended by the interest of food and herbs and allowing a wonderful connection.
He is survived by his wife, Louise; three children: David Hyde and his wife Maria of Hackettstown, NJ; Holly McDuffee and her husband Thomas of Harrisonburg, VA; and Mark Hyde and his wife Gwen of Sunderland, VT; and five grandchildren: Patrick McDuffee, Melissa Passarelli and her husband Tyler, Daniel McDuffee, Sarah Hyde and Jason Hyde. He is predeceased by his parents and his three siblings: Margaret Donato, William Hyde and John Hyde.
Funeral services will be held at a later date at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Cyrus's name to The Chapel at Warren Valley, 384 Route 57 West, Washington, NJ 07882, http://www.thechapelnj.org.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the Warren Hills Memorial Home. To send an on-line condolence please visit www.warrenhillsmemorialhome.com
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