Neil A. Taber

Neil A. Taber

Neil A. Taber

ALTAMONT — Neil A. Taber, a man whose capacity to serve his community was seemingly endless, died on Sunday, May 5. He was 92.

Mr. Taber was born on April 9, 1927, to Albertus and Edith Taber; his father was a mason and his mother was a homemaker. He grew up in Knox, one of seven boys.

Albertus Taber was a stern man who worked hard to support his family but still took time to teach his sons the “right values” — hard work, respect, and love, said Randal Taber, Neil Taber’s son.

His own father, Randal Taber said, was stern and serious when he had to be, “but at the same time he was a loving man.” His father’s sternness, Randal Taber said, was his way of teaching his children right from wrong. “He was very committed to raising his children correctly,” he said of his father.

As a young man, Neil Taber became a charter member of the Knox Volunteer Fire Company; he was the last surviving charter member, his son said.

“Along with his identical twin brother,” Mr. Taber’s family wrote in a tribute, “Neil joined the Army Air Force before finishing high school to serve World War II.”

His father didn’t talk much about his military service, Randal Taber said; the war was ending as is father was finishing bootcamp. “He joked that Hitler gave up because he knew he was coming,” Randal Taber said with a laugh.

Mr. Taber met Dorothy, the woman who would be his wife, on a blind date, their son said. The couple married in 1949, and, in 1956, bought a home on Altamont Boulevard, where they raised four boys and two girls; they celebrated their 69th anniversary this past September.

“They stuck together and loved each other through their whole entire life ...  It’s amazing,” Randal Taber said of his parents.

“Neil was dedicated to and worked hard to support his family,” Mr. Taber’s family wrote in a tribute.

He worked for 38 years as a steamfitter for General Electric.

In addition, and concurrently with his job at General Electric, Mr. Taber worked part-time for the Altamont Police Department and Albany County Sheriff’s Office, and, for 25 years, he was a member of the Altamont Fire Department.   

“When I was growing up, the fire department was actually dispatched from my house,” Randal Taber said. “That’s how dedicated he was. There was a button in our house that would blow the sirens.”

He continued, “People would call our house to report a fire or if they needed an ambulance, then my mother was on telephone dispatch while my father took off to take care of the call.”

Mr. Taber also served for 32 years as Altamont’s village justice, retiring in 2013, at the age of 85. “We continued to call him judge,” Randal Taber said. “He loved it.”

Mr. Taber, his son said, was honored to be a village justice; it was one of the highest forms of community service. And his father, in turn, Randal Taber said, took the job very seriously, and he never let his personal opinions cloud his judgement. He was dedicated to doing the job to the best of his abilities, Randal Taber said; because Mr. Taber’s decisions mattered, they had consequences.  

“He was so dedicated to it,” Randal Taber said of his father’s time as village justice. Not only would Mr. Taber serve Altamont, his son said, but Guilderland as well. “Because there were many times — many times — in the overnight hours,” his son said, that Mr. Taber would be called by the Guilderland Police Department because the town’s own judges weren’t picking up the phone.

“My dad answered the phone every time — no matter what time it was, to serve the community,” said his son.

In 2013, at the time of his retirement, The Enterprise said that Mr. Taber had “applied his own style” to the job; citing as one example, several 2004 cases that Mr. Taber had dismissed “en masse.”  

Around Christmastime 2004, Mr. Taber got his own chance to play Santa Claus, telling most of the offenders in the courtroom that he was going to give them an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, meaning there would be no record of their arrests, if they stayed out of trouble for six months.

“They all stood up and cheered and clapped,” Mr. Taber said of the 2004 dismissals.

“Afterwards, [then Mayor] Paul DeSarbo said, ‘That’s the first time I’ve heard people cheering in court.’ One of them said I was like Santa Claus in a black robe,” The Enterprise reported.

Growing up, Randal Taber never thought of his father as a steamfitter for General Electric. In his memory, his father was always a fireman or policeman.

Being a steamfitter was a good, stable union job with excellent benefits and health care, Randal Taber said. “That was the base of how he took care of his family.”

But his father’s passion, his son said, were the community-service jobs — both the Altamont fire and police departments as well as the Altamont Rescue Squad, and the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.

“He was very committed to serving this community and that’s what he really enjoyed — serving,” said Randal Taber, who would go on to become a firefighter for the city of Albany.

“That’s the thing that stuck with me,” he said of his father’s passion for serving the community.

Randal Taber said that he remembered, as he was growing up, his father would come home after a full day at General Electric, relax for a few minutes, eat dinner, and then put on his sheriff’s uniform and go to work for another six hours. “It was amazing how much work he did to support his family,” his son said.

Asked how his father spent his retirement, Randal Taber said, as the full-time driver for the Altamont Rescue Squad.

Not many people saw the other side of Justice Taber, his son said, the fun and loving man who wouldn’t stop doing things until he hit 90 years old. The man who took his son fishing so many times that “he wore me out,” Randal Taber said.

“I was so honored to be this man’s son; he was such a wonderful man,” his son said.

“Neil had a fun side to him. He was the pilot for the Albany Skydivers for many years where he had many exciting experiences,” Mr. Taber’s family wrote in a tribute. “He enjoyed many hobbies with his family and friends that included: golfing, bicycling, hunting, fishing, boating, piloting full-scale Cessnas and RC model airplanes and helicopters. He was also the long-time president of the Helderberg Rod and Gun Club where the trap field is named in his honor.”

But about a year-and-a-half-ago, Mr. Taber began to slow down; he lost his daughter, Beth, to cancer, his son said. “It was a life-changing event for the whole family, of course, but it especially [affected] my father,” Randal Taber said.

Shortly after Beth died, Mr. Taber’s health began to decline.

“In a way, he kind of died of a broken heart,” Randal Taber said.

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Neil A. Taber is survived by his wife of 69 years, Dorothy; his children, Gregory N. Taber, Gary D. Taber, Shelly E. Taber, Ronald L. Taber and Randel E. Taber; and his 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

His daughter, Beth Taber Conway, died before him.

Calling hours were held on Wednesday, May 8. A committal service will be held on Thursday, May 9, at 11:30 a.m., in the chapel at Oakwood Cemetery, 186 Oakwood Avenue, Troy. Interment will follow.

— Sean Mulkerrin

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    GUILDERLAND CENTER — For more than 35 years, Mary Lou Quay Sapio did laundry for Guilderland Center nursing-home residents. She died on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, at her home, after a short illness. She was 64.

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