Vall ‘Zeb’ Pulliam

“The steadfast rock of the family has taken his leave of this earthly world and is probably letting St. Peter know how he can spruce up the place. Vall Pulliam passed away on June 9, 2024,” his family wrote in a tribute. He was 89.

He was born at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady on June 24, 1934, to Henry Abbett Pulliam and Charlotte Lawrence Pulliam Wilcoxen.

“Early on,” his family wrote, “recognizing that education was best done outside of a classroom, Vall joined the Navy. Although he was not deployed overseas during the Korean War, he proudly served as a member of the Helicopter Utility Squadron (HU-1).

“Not being satisfied with that education, he returned home, married Judy Ellis, and began raising five children by the time he turned 35. Zeb, as he was known by his family and close friends, worked over 30 years for Niagara Mohawk (now National Grid).

“Together with Judy, he provided a welcoming home for his family from Hoosick Falls to Claverack to Ticonderoga to Fonda and finally settling down in retirement in Altamont where he grew up with his two brothers, Brown and Todd, and his four sisters, Joyce, Verity, Faith, and Darcy on the family land Bozenbrow.

“He didn’t just live in these places, he participated in the community as a member of the Ticonderoga School Board, the Altamont Fair Board, the Town of Knox Planning Board, and as a tax assessor. He was a humble man who didn’t seek power or prestige — he just wanted to make things better. Zeb gave back as much as he could and the community was better for it.

“Confident enough to give himself his own nickname, honest enough not to take even one paperclip from the office, dependable enough to always be there for his five children exactly when he said he would be there — and most of all, lovable enough to play with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“He was a simple man and yet he was also a complex one. Most of his children were taller than he, but he still was bigger than life to them. The words didn’t come from his lips, but each child knew they were loved.

“He was known as Vall, Zeb, and Grandad but mostly known as the strong center of the family. He was the first one to grab a tool and say, ‘Let’s go fix your problem.’ He was the first one to give you advice — even when you weren’t looking for it.

“His work ethic was formidable. He was able to expect the best out of you, a good hard day’s work. He could demand that because he led by example. Until his body and mind gave out, he was constantly working on his land, clearing brush, grooming the trails, or ‘supervising’ anyone there to help.

“As much as he had a serious side, Zeb was also a jokester, a clown, a funny guy. In Zeb’s peak days, heaven help the telemarketer that got Vall Pulliam on the phone. Vall, using some funny or odd voice, would ask the telemarketer many inane questions to the point of the telemarketer surrendering and hanging up.

“He would tease friends and family and revel in the fact that they could give it right back to him.  People that knew Vall well could rattle off a bunch of gags he may have pulled on them.”

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Vall Pullium is survived by a wealth family including 13 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews but also by his brother and four sisters as well as his children: Kyle (Maribeth), Brett (Amy), Amy (Mark), Kent (Christine), and Jason (Neeta).

He is also survived by his cherished and devoted wife, Doris Orsini, who came around at just the right time. Her six children welcomed him into their family with their kindness and humor.

His parents, Henry Abbett Pulliam and Charlotte Lawrence Pulliam Wilcoxen, died before him, as did his brother, Todd, and his first love, his wife and mother of his children, Judy.  

“Special thanks go to Our Lady Of Mercy Life Center in Guilderland where Vall lived the last two years of his life,” the tribute said. “The staff there welcomed him, cared for him, and looked the other way when he raided the refrigerator.”

There will be no services but a private celebration with family at a later date.

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