Shirley Elizabeth Albright

Shirley Elizabeth Albright

NEW SCOTLAND — Shirley Elizabeth Albright was a big-hearted woman. She kept an immaculate house at the foot of the Helderbergs into which she welcomed not just neighborhood kids and friends of her children but troubled teens her husband brought home from the city.

“The beloved wife of Joseph M. Albright joined her angels and god in heaven on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 with her loving family by her side,” her family wrote in a tribute. Mrs. Albright was 81.

“My mother had a heart of gold,” said Timothy Albright. “She lived through hard times and tolerated whatever happened. She was always kind.”

Both of her parents, Lulu and Stanley Sample, had deep roots in the Schoharie Valley. They moved to Schenectady, where Mrs. Albright was born on Oct. 11, 1936, and then to Albany where she was raised.

“They were very poor,” said Timothy Albright of his mother’s family. Her father worked as a mechanic at the Duffy Mott cider mill, and her mother worked in Kresge’s, a predecessor of Kmart.

Mrs. Albright was one of nine children. Her twin brother, Stanley, was born sixth and she was seventh. “She had a good childhood,” said her son.

After she graduated from Albany High School, Mrs. Albright worked for Albany Public Markets. It was there that she met the man who would become her husband, a World War II veteran, Joseph Albright.

They were married on Oct. 13, 1957. Their union, which their son described as “a very good marriage,” ended only with her death.

“My dad worked his way up to vice president of Albany Public Markets,” said Timothy Albright. For many years, Mrs. Albright was a stay-at-home mother who also cared for other children and welcomed many neighborhood kids into her home.

“She was always devoted to her family and took the time to listen and help whenever she was able,” her family wrote in a tribute. “Mom will be remembered for her kind nature and big heart. She always attended to her family’s needs all her life and was as sweet and loving as any mother ever was. She was an amazing woman who gave much love to her family.”

During the 1960s and ’70s, the Albright family — two parents, three sons, and a daughter — camped with their RV trailer, often close to home in the Adirondacks but also on far-flung trips. “We went all over the United States,” said Timothy Albright. “We saw the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, and in 1971 we went to Disney World.”

Much later, Mrs. Albright became an international traveler after her daughter moved to the Island of Cyprus. “My parents would make that their base and travel from there,” said Timothy Albright. Two of Mrs. Albright’s favorite places were Egypt and Paris.

In 1975, she went to work for the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, retiring in 2002. “Over the years, her hobbies included ceramics, bingo, going to casinos, needlepoint, and quilting,” her family wrote. She loved her pets and enjoyed being greeted by them when she came home from work, her son said.

A beautiful woman, Mrs. Albright sold Avon cosmetics for 40 years. “She was one of the longest-tenured Avon ladies,” said her son.

Although she loved to travel, Mrs. Albright was at heart a homebody, her son said. As a mother, he described her as “very sweet and attentive.” He went on, “She nurtured me through sickness. She was never harsh. She only had a high school education but she helped us with our homework.”

She loved her home —a  modern split-level made of red brick — which the Albrights built in 1964 on Martin Road Extension at the base of the Helderberg escarpment. Over time, Timothy Albright said, “The house grew in size.”

“She kept a lovely house,” said her son. “She was immaculate … We held a lot of picnics there,” he said, hosting Mrs. Albright’s extended family.

Her husband had been an orphan and twice “brought home derelict teenagers to live with us,” said Timothy Albright. Mr. Albright had met them at the market and wanted to give them a better chance than he’d had, Timothy Albright said.

“She welcomed them,” he said. Mrs. Albright also took care of neighborhood kids whose parents were working.

“Our house was a meeting place,” said her son. “She welcomed a lot of kids. She’d feed them and some of them would go camping with us.”

“Nothing pleased her like cooking and baking for a gathering of friends and family, and she did that wonderfully!” her family wrote.

“Her chocolate-cake recipe was phenomenal,” said her son. “Everybody craved her chocolate cake.”

He went on, “She put on a big spread at Thanksgiving and Christmas.” Even in her later years, when her family worried it would be too much for her, he said, “She insisted on doing it.”

Mrs. Albright enjoyed gathering with her family and being with her grandchildren.

Her son’s favorite was her roast-beef dinner.  “My dad was head of the butcher departments so we got good cuts of meat now and then,” he said.

Mrs. Albright was capable and committed. Every year, up until last year, she served as a poll attendant on Election Day.

“My mom wasn’t a strong book learner,” said Timothy Albright. “She often didn’t know about worldly things but she was good with practical things — with bookkeeping, with keeping things in order.”

Most of all, Mrs. Albright taught her son to be kind, he said, concluding, “That’s an important lesson.”

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Shirley Elizabeth Albright is survived by her husband of 60 years, Joseph M. Albright; her children, Christopher Albright and his wife, Kelly, Timothy Albright and his wife, Susan, David Albright and his wife, Karen, and Debbie Neocleus and her husband, Elmos; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Calling hours are on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Reilly & Son Funeral Home, 9 Voorheesville Ave., Voorheesville, NY from 4 to 7 p.m. with a service from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Following calling hours, a celebration of her life will be held at the home of Kelly and Chris Albright.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, 3 Oakland Ave, Menands, NY 12204.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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