GALLUPVILLE — Laura E. Westfall, who spent all of her long life in Schoharie County, loved her family, her church, and her neighbors.
She lived in Shutters Corners in the town of Wright, and she died at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, after a brief illness, on Sunday, Feb. 17. She was 91.
“She was lots of fun — a very strong woman with a lot of energy,” said her granddaughter, Janet Partridge.
Mrs. Westfall was born on Feb. 2, 1922 in Schoharie, a daughter of Stephen and Rhoba (Bullock) Wilber. She was raised on her family’s dairy farm with three sisters and four brothers, and attended the Barton Hill Schoolhouse.
Later, Mrs. Westfall went to Schoharie High School where she played basketball on the school team. “Because she was a nice, strong farm girl, she played on the varsity team as a ninth-grader,” said her granddaughter. “She thought that was kind of cool.”
Mrs. Westfall married Frank C. Westfall Sr. on April 6, 1940. “They grew up in the same town,” said Ms. Partridge. They raised three sons. The Westfalls’ marriage lasted 46 years, ending only with Mr. Westfall’s death in 1986.
Together, the couple operated the Gallupville Corner Store.
“They had the store for 17 years,” said Ms. Partridge. “It was an old-fashioned place with all the jars of candy…one of those cute little hometown stores that sold everything. She and Grandpa did most of the work in the store.”
Mrs. Westfall loved local history and also worked part-time at the Old Stone Fort Museum. “In her later years, after she retired, she volunteered there. She loved history and researched the genealogy on the Westfall side of the family,” said her granddaughter, noting that Mrs. Westfall was a member of the Town of Wright Historical Society.
She was also a member of the Town of Wright Senior Citizens and volunteered at the Cobleskill Community Hospital where the seniors ran a café and shop where she helped out.
Mrs. Westfall had “a strong faith,” said her granddaughter and, as a longtime member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Gallupville, she served on the church council and was also on the Gallupville Rural Cemetery Board.
“She put a lot of time and effort into things going on at the church,” said Ms. Partridge. “She helped with the big suppers they used to have.”
Mrs. Westfall’s interests were varied and she enjoyed collecting bottles, traveling and camping, tole painting, and playing cards.
“The Canasta Club was one of her favorite things,” said Ms. Partridge. Just as she went to church every Sunday, Mrs. Westfall played cards with her long-time friends every Tuesday as they took turns hosting the canasta gatherings and serving snacks.
“It would help make the week go by,” said her granddaughter. “She said canasta was all about luck, not strategy.”
Painting was another passion for Mrs. Westfall who changed found objects into works of art.
Her husband encouraged her to paint, said Ms. Partridge, adding, “My grandfather made her wood frames for canvas.”
Mrs. Westfall’s brother-in-law, who lived next door to her, was fond of going to flea markets and would bring her boxes and other trinkets that he found. She would decorate them with her folk-art tole panting, and eventually sold her work.
Mrs. Westfall liked the outdoors and, when her family was young, she enjoyed camping with them.
She never lost her zest for having fun with children. “She was a great grandmother,” said Ms. Partridge. “She was always there for us.” Mrs. Westfall attended school events to support her grandchildren. She also took them camping or invited them, several at a time, to stay over at her house.
“She did this in her eighties,” said Ms. Partridge. “She’d call one of us up and we’d all go out to eat. She loved spending time with family.”
Laura E. Westfall is survived by six grandchildren: Donna Rudd and her husband, Rick, of Blacksburg, Va.; Daniel Westfall and his wife, Tara, of Coxsackie; Douglas Westfall, of Glens Falls; Christopher Westfall, of Greenland, Maine; Janet Partridge and her husband, Eric, of East Durham; and Michael Westfall and his wife, Ginger, of Davie, Fla. She is also survived by 14 great-grandchildren, Mackenzie, Nick, Lizzy, Jake, Tasha, Sophia, Kacie, Courtney, Cole, Katie, Emilee, Ben, Laura, and Tyler; by two daughters-in-law, Linda Westfall, of Cobleskill, and Melanie Westfall of Amsterdam; and by several nieces and nephews.
Mrs. Westfall’s husband, Frank C. Westfall, died on July 22, 1986. Her three sons — Thomas G. Westfall, Frank C. Westfall Jr., and Joseph C. Westfall — and an infant daughter, Bonnie, all died before her as did her siblings — Martha Ottman, Flossie Wood, Mabel Armstrong, John Wilber, Stephen Wilber, Leroy Wilber, and Ray Wilber.
Calling hours were held on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Langan Funeral Home in Schoharie. A funeral service will be held at noon today, Feb. 21, at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Gallupville, on Route 443. Burial will be later in the Gallupville Rural Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Post Office Box 22, Gallupville, NY 12073. Further information is available at www.langanfuneralhome.com
— Melissa Hale-Spencer