Perry and Ellen Moak

Perry M. Moak

Ellen A. Moak

RENSSELAERVILLE — Perry M. Moak and Ellen A. Schenk fell in love in their youth and formed a union that lasted 63 years.

He died peacefully on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. She died two days later with a broken heart, her family said. He was 84 and she was 82.

“When she heard he passed away, she just shut down,” said their eldest child, Susan Britton. “She didn’t want to live without him.”

They will be mourned and buried together on Monday, July 11.

Mrs. Britton went on, “They often joked, ‘We’ll plan on going together. Neither one of us could live without the other.’ The bottom line is, as hard and difficult as it is for all of us left behind, there is no better testament to their love. I’m sure they’re up there, smiling down, having a cocktail….”

The devoted couple came from diverse backgrounds. Mr. Moak was raised by a Baptist Hilltown farm family. He was born at Hickory Hill in Rensselaerville, on Sept. 26, 1931 to Charles “Ted” Moak and Viola (née Lobdell) Moak and attended Greenville Central School.

“He dropped out of school to help on the family farm,” said Mrs. Britton.

Mrs. Moak was born in Brooklyn to a Catholic family that moved quite a bit. One of seven siblings, she was born on Sept. 6, 1934 to Edward and Ellen (née Hislop) Schenk and graduated from Sharon Springs Central School. She had lived with a friend’s family so she could graduate with her class, said Mrs. Britton.

Soon after graduating, she met Perry Moak — known as simply “Moak” to his friends — at a bar at Snyders Corners. They married on Nov. 29, 1952.

At first, the couple lived on the Moak family farm on Hale Road in Rensselaerville but then Mr. Moak built a house with his own hands on Route 85 in East Berne. There the couple raised their three children: Susan, Linda, and Perry.

In addition to being a good carpenter, Mr. Moak also was a skilled mason. He built a fieldstone fireplace in their East Berne home and later, after his daughters married and had homes of their own, he built fireplaces for them, too. He passed the skill onto his son who builds stone walls and patios.

Over the years, Mr. Moak held a variety of jobs, including as a trucker, a sheriff’s deputy, and owning a motorcycle shop. “He worked to support his family, to make a decent life for them,” said Mrs. Britton.

He worked under Albany County Sheriff William Rice as a deputy, and Mrs. Britton said a sheriff’s patrol car will be part of the funeral procession to honor him.

Mr. Moak was employed by several trucking companies including Red Star Express for 17 years. He also drove a car carrier for Anchor Motor Freight. He was a member of Teamster Local 294 where he was a member of the Retiree Club. He had retired from Red Star express in October 1993.

One of Mrs. Britton’s fondest memories is the way her father taught her to navigate when there are 18-wheelers on the highway. “Some people don’t understand how much space it takes an 18-wheeler to stop,” so they cut them off when passing on the highway, she said.

“He taught me there’s a huge blind spot,” she said. “He taught me, if you have a truck pulling in front of you...flash your lights so they know it’s safe. To say thank you, they flash their own lights.”

Mr. Moak liked driving cars and motorcycles as well as trucks. He raced cars on the ice using the number 70. And he served as “head mechanic” for his son while following his motorcycle racing circuit. “They toured all over,” Mrs. Britton said, competing in motocross events. Both Mr. and Mrs. Moak enjoyed races with their son.

Mr. Moak encouraged his daughter in ice racing.  Mrs. Britton, who drove a Saab in races, at age 18 placed second in New York State in the Powder Puff Division in 1972. “He would always lean in the window and tell me, ‘If you see daylight between two cars, step on it and go for it,’” recalled Mrs. Britton, concluding, “I learned how to handle a car on icy roads.”

She went on, “He was a great father. He was a kind and gentle man. He never shouted at us.”

Comparing her two parents, she said, “He was the easy one. She was the tougher one.”

Mrs. Moak worked, too. She was a receptionist and secretary for Dr. Margery W. Smith who had a large Hilltown practice based on her family’s Berne farm. Mrs. Moak also worked for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. And she worked as a teller and in customer service at several banks, retiring from Northeast Savings Bank.

In addition, Mrs. Moak was very active in community affairs, often in leadership roles. She was a past member and past resident of the East Berne Fire Company Auxiliary, a member and past president of the American Legion Auxiliary Clarke White Unit 589, and a Girl Scout leader.

“Linda and I were in her troop,” said Mrs. Britton of herself and her sister. She went on about her mother, “She was always involved with the PTA and things at school, too.”

A member of the Rosary Society, Mrs. Moak was also a reader and Eucharistic minister at St. John the Baptist Church in Greenville. “She was raised a strict Catholic,” said Mrs. Britton. “Her religion was very important to her. She loved to do the readings. As a Eucharistic minister, she served the body and blood of Christ.”

Mrs. Moak was an avid bowler for 30 years, competing in tournaments and earning many awards and trophies. “She went bowling with her friends every Monday night at the Red Baron on Lake Onderdonk,” said her daughter.

Both of the Moaks were staunch Democrats. Mrs. Moak was a member and past president of the Rensselaerville Democratic Social Club and she also chaired the Rensselaerville Grievance Board of Assessment Review. “She enjoyed being somewhat involved in politics,” said Mrs. Britton.

Mr. Moak ran a motorcycle shop out of the Moaks’ home in East Berne. He rode a BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) motorcycle. “He would race cycles,” said Ms. Britton. Mr. Moak was a charter member of the Helderberg Riders Motorcycle Club. The Riders had a clubhouse up a steep hill on County Route 6 where the Moaks and other families would spend weekends.

“There was a swimming pool at the clubhouse. We spent a lot of weekends up there,” said Mrs. Britton. “We did a lot of camping as a family.”

The Moaks started out camping in tents, she said, and then moved to a “pop-up” and then to a “pull-behind.” “Once we’d grown up, my parents finally got a motor home and did a lot of traveling,” said Mrs. Britton. They traveled in their motor home to various states and spent many winters in Florida.

The Moaks loved pets and had a number of cats and dogs over the years; the most recent was a miniature pinscher named Max.

Mr. Moak enjoyed the outdoors and deer hunting; he was a member of the Basic Valley Sportsmen’s Club and the AR Sportsmen’s Club as well as a member of the Northeast Snowmobile Riders.

“He would tell stories about the big eight-pointer that got away,” recalled his daughter. Mr. Moak had several different treestands to hunt from but also liked to sit at the base of trees to watch for deer.

“He was known for being able to take a nap anywhere,”said his daughter, even while waiting at the base of a tree. “He’d wake up when he heard a deer come through the brush.”

When he was in his late fifties or early sixties, Mr. Moak wanted to return to Rensselaerville although Mrs. Moak hesitated at first to leave East Berne. They built a modular home on Hale Road and settled in. Mr. Moak became an active member of the Rensselaerville Volunteer Fire Company, having served as assistant chief, a member of the board of trustees, and captain of the fire police.

“Perry was a loving and gentle soul that could be counted on to do a job and do it well,” his family wrote in a tribute. “He was always ready to help others in any way he could.  He will be sorely missed by his loving family and many friends.”

In the end, the three Moak children fulfilled their mother’s fondest wish. “She always taught us we should keep family at the forefront,” said Mrs. Britton. “She always wanted us, as siblings, to make sure we stayed close and didn’t want to see us lose touch with one another.”

The three siblings all live near each other in Rensselaerville. “My brother and sister live on either side of where their house was, all on Hale Road. I live a mile away,” said Mrs. Britton.

She concluded, “Her greatest wish for us was we would always share things with each other, to stay close, to keep family ties strong.

****

Perry M. Moak and Ellen (née Schenk) Moak are survived by their children, Susan Britton and her husband, Donald; Linda McCormick and her husband, Sean; and Perry J. Moak — all of Rensselaerville. They are survived, too, by their seven grandchildren: Lisa, Donny, Tara, Colleen, Kyle, Ashley, and Morgan as well as by 11 great-grandchildren.

Mr. Moak is also survived by his brother, Loring Moak, and his wife, Marion; his sister, Shirley Kelly, and her husband, William; and many nieces and nephews.

Mrs. Moak is survived by two sisters, Cecilia Baluha and Theresa Lawrence. Four of her siblings — sister Barbara Martin, and brothers Edward Jr. “Sonny” Schenk, Robert Schenk and John Schenk — died before her.  

Calling hours for both Perry and Ellen Moak will be held on Sunday, July 10, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Cunningham Funeral Home on Route 81 in Greenville.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held for the couple on Monday, July 11, at 11 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Church on Route 81 in Greenville.  Burial will follow in the Rensselaerville Cemetery. Mourners may leave condolences online at ajcunninghamfh.com.

Memorial contributions for Perry M. Moak may be made to the Rensselaerville Volunteer Fire Company at Post Office Box 134, Rensselaerville, NY  12147.

Memorial contributions for Ellen A. Moak may be made to the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation, National Headquarters, 8945 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46260.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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