Elizabeth J. Shedina
KNOX — When it came to parenting, Elizabeth Shedina stood by her convictions, but the flowers in her vase changed with the seasons.
Elizabeth J. (née Kolb) Shedina died at her home on Thursday, July 24, 2014. She was 91.
In life, she enjoyed many flowers — tulips, lilacs, pussy willows, and pansies — and she was fascinated watching birds and butterflies. So, instead of flowers, her family listed The Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany for contributions in her memory.
Sight was important to Mrs. Shedina. She was teased at school for a crossed eye that impaired her vision. Her family couldn’t afford glasses when she needed them, her daughter, Lydia Ogaard said, and schoolwork was sometimes a struggle.
Her youngest daughter, Marie Simon, has a crossed eye, too, with good vision in only her left eye.
“It makes your eye hurt when you don’t have glasses to correct the vision,” she said.
Mrs. Shedina graduated from Coeymans High School and went to St. Margaret’s Center for Children of Albany, to study to be a child nurse.
She used her training to raise her mentally disabled son at home despite opinions from family that he should be in the nursing facility of St. Margaret’s.
Stephen Shedina, known as “Stevie,” had hydrocephalus, with fluid accumulated in his brain. Mrs. Shedina believed that he would have a better life with three family members at home, instead of under a nurse who looks after several children, Lydia Ogaard said.
When Stephen had trouble sucking milk from a bottle, Mrs. Shedina made the hole of its nipple slightly larger, and did so again for his food because he had trouble swallowing.
She liked to tell people about how Stephen banged on the closet door where his coat was when he saw his mother about to go out. He wanted to join her. At dinner, she would ask him if he wanted any more food, pointing at each dish until he grinned.
“Though he couldn’t speak, she knew how to figure out ways to know what he wanted,” Marie Simon said. She said Stephen’s death at 4 years old devastated her mother, who knew she did the right thing raising him at home and occasionally talked about him throughout her life.
She was especially sensitive to news stories about children, her daughter said. In parenting, and as a nanny, she could be a strict disciplinarian, once throwing a glass of cold water in the face of a girl who she was looking after and was having a temper tantrum, Lydia Ogaard recounted.
“She said, ‘You’ve got to show them who’s boss,’” Mrs. Ogaard said.
Mrs. Shedina was born in Albany on Sept. 26, 1922, the daughter of the late Charles Burton and Emma (née Livingston) Kolb.
She grew up in the village of Coeymans, the only girl among five siblings. As a result, she had more domestic responsibilities. She respected her mother, a former shirt-factory worker who taught her how to iron.
Her father, a boilermaker for steam-powered trains, worked late shifts and slept during the day, hobbling her desire to play piano. Mrs. Shedina enjoyed music, singing with her family packed into a car on weekend trips for a picnic. She sang the same songs — “She’ll Be Coming ’Round the Mountain”; “Hail, Hail the Gang’s All Here”; and “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah” — with her daughters on their frequent summer trips.
“Mommy planned every single vacation we went on,” said Lydia Ogaard. “She planned where, and how, and managed the money to make sure we could afford it.”
Mrs. Shedina assigned her daughters jobs while they traveled. “She taught us how to keep track of things,” said Mrs. Ogaard, who was in charge of recording the family’s gas expenses in a notebook on their trips.
Mrs. Shedina was proud of a collection of samples of dirt in red, brown, black, and white shades from the places they visited.
She met her husband, Stephen Shedina, while roller skating at the Knox Cave roller rink. They were married in 1950 in the Coeymans Reformed Church and moved to Knox.
Originally from a village, Mrs. Shedina learned how to live in the rural town.
She ran the family’s chicken farm, raising 200 to 400 chickens, collecting, washing, sorting, and candling their eggs, and delivering them in her station wagon.
She preserved foods from their garden and, though she didn’t like to eat them, made the best dill pickles, Marie Simon said. If she went to a church function, she brought two jars of her pickles.
She was a member of the Knox Reformed Church, the Hilltown Seniors, the Knox Kraft Klub, and the church’s couples club and missionary guild.
“She had a rough life,” said Marie Simon, “but, on the other hand, she had a good life.”
She is survived by her daughters, Lydia J. Ogaard of Knox and Marie A. Simon of Rockport, Texas; her grandchildren, Stephen Ogaard, Michael Ogaard and his wife, Mandi, Erica Kirsch and her husband, Scott, Diana Ogaard, Wesley Simon and his wife, Susan, Stephanie Halpin and her husband, Justin, and Kevin Simon and his wife, Samantha; and her great-grandchildren, Jonathan and Nathan Halpin, Alexander and Adeline Ogaard, and Henry Simon.
Her husband, Stephen F. Shedina, died before her in 2009, as did her son, Stephen F. Shedina Jr., her sons-in-law, Elmer Ogaard and Larry Simon; her brothers, Burton, Charles, Francis, and Donald Kolb; and her sister-in-law, Barbara Kolb.
Calling hours will be held on Monday, Aug. 4, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Knox Reformed Church, on Route 156 in Knox, with a funeral service to follow noon. Interment will be at the Knox Cemetery with a luncheon at the Knox Reformed Church afterward.
Arrangements are by the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. Online condolences may be made at fredendallfuneralhome.com
Memorial contributions may be made to the Knox Reformed Church, Post Office Box 86, Knox, NY 12107; St. Margaret’s Center for Children, 27 Hackett Blvd, Albany, NY 12208, or The Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany, 301 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12206.
— Marcello Iaia