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Obituraries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 25, 2006


Miller mourned
"Lived every single moment to the fullest"

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

EAST BERNE — James E. Miller was a young man who lived life to the fullest even, or especially, when he knew death was near. He died on Sunday, May 21, 2006, at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. He was 19.

"He was outgoing," said his father, Dennis Miller. "He always smiled and laughed. He loved school, he loved his teachers, he loved everyone — and they loved him."

James had muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle disorder characterized by gradual irreversible wasting of skeletal muscle.

"His older brother had the same disease and passed away at the same age," said Mr. Miller. The family has been able to carry on, he said, because "we’ve gotten a lot of support from a lot of people."

Guilderland High School, where James attended classes in a BOCES program, was in mourning this week. The flag in front of the school was flown at half-mast and a moment of silence was observed in his memory.

"A lot of people knew him," said Superintendent Gregory Aidala. "It’s very sad."

"He was an angel on earth," said Karen Mattice. "I had the privilege of being his one-on-one educational assistant for three years."

She described with great fondness a young man who was cheerful in the face of all odds.

"He always had a smile regardless of how challenging the situation was going to be," she said. "He very willingly accepted all people and their questions regarding his disease or his wheelchair. He wanted them to get to know him rather than his illness."

Ms. Mattice said that James accepted his fate. "When he was little, he watched his brother lie on the couch and pass...James just accepted what would happen. You know those stages of grief they talk about — anger and denial and all" He had gone through all that. When I met him, he was already at acceptance."

She went on to describe how his philosophy permeated those around him. "He knew he would die young," said Ms. Mattice, "so he lived every single moment of every day to the fullest.

"He taught me not to wait till tomorrow to say that extra kind word to someone; it might not come...As a parent, you think you’ll send your child to school and they’ll get educated by the teachers. In this case, James was the teacher who educated us on life and the meaning of living it for today."

James had an effect, she said, not just on those students in the BOCES program but on people throughout Guilderland High School. He signed up for lunch with the new principal, she said, and talked to him about what he thought would help the school. "He really felt like part of the high school," said Ms. Mattice.

James took a photography class with the mainstream students, she said. "The students included him and willingly helped him as much as he helped them," said Ms. Mattice. "He knew what it meant to capture the moment, in photography and in life....People who were only around him for half-an-hour felt like they knew what it was like to get the most out of a moment."

James also participated in a bowling club, using a ramp at Town ’N’ Country Lanes, said Ms. Mattice.

He reveled in being a high-school senior, she said. James was due to graduate in June. "We ordered his cap and gown and his ring," said Ms. Mattice. "He got his picture taken with the Class of 2006 and they put that in the high-school hallway. He was all set to give a senior speech to his own class."

He was also in the midst of practicing for a talent show. Ms. Mattice gave percussion lessons twice a week to James and two other students.

"He was going to play the xylophone one-handed," she said. "He was practicing a jazz version of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ that went into ‘Rock Around the Clock.’ He always loved ’50’s music; that was his thing."

On Friday night, James went to the prom, which BOCES held at the Clarion. "I was his escort," said Ms. Mattice. "It was his third prom. I’m really glad we had our picture taken together."

She went on, "He was very determined to go to what he called his senior prom."

James wore a nice shirt and tie — no tux. "He wasn’t the frilly type," said Ms. Mattice. "He was a down-to-earth kid.

"He loved his car models and car shows," she said.

His father said James enjoyed helping him restore a 1960 Corvair. "He’d help with the chrome, wiping things down, whatever he could do," said his father.

James also liked art. He took art classes at school and especially enjoyed painting watercolors, Ms. Mattice said.

And, he liked to read. At the time of his death, he was reading a book about Boston because his class was planning a day-long trip to the city on Thursday. Instead, they’ll be going to his funeral on Thursday.

"We’ve really tried to keep things open," said Ms. Mattice in describing how James’s classmates are dealing with his death. "We told them, ‘Sometimes, you’re going to feel like crying; sometimes, you’re going to feel like smiling as you think of things he said; other times, you’ll be doing regular activities.’"

"They brought in extra social workers and Guilderland High School volunteered their own administrators so our staff could deal with it," said Ms. Mattice, expressing her gratitude.

"James was one of those unsung heroes," concluded Ms. Mattice.

He maintained his independence, even in a wheelchair. "When he got his power wheelchair, he knew how to drive it right away. He drove a lawnmower, so he didn’t even really need a lesson," she said of driving the power wheelchair. "Just this past Thursday, James said one wish his parents got him was a go-cart. He wanted a hand control on it....

"He could drive his power wheelchair by himself. He didn’t need me by his side....He’d go to the library by himself to return a book. He was always so diligent about returning books on time."

If a door was shut, she said, James would bang on it with the front part of his wheelchair. "People would come and open it," said Ms. Mattice. They’d be rewarded with James’s smile.

"He could have easily been a complainer and said, ‘Why me"’" said Ms. Mattice, but he wasn’t.

"You know how people ask, ‘How are you today"’ James would say, ‘Good.’ James’s ‘good’ would be our ‘poor.’ He would answer, ‘Good,’ and he just kept going. Every day, his Mom helped him get on the bus. He got to school. That was good.

"He loved that environment. He always found things to be learned and explored. And he taught all of us how to feel good."


James E. Miller is survived by his parents, Dennis and Jane Miller, of Knox; one brother, Michael, of Knox; his grandparents, Betty Murgola, of Schenectady, and Mary and Joseph Lucey of Castleton, N.Y.

He is also survived by his dear friends Pat Courtright and Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, and by his special teachers, Karen Mattice, Anne Gabriel, and Richard Ryan. He is survived, too, by many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

His brother, Dennis V. Miller, died in 1994.

A funeral service will be held today (Thursday) at 11 a.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. Burial will be in Knox Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Helderberg Ambulance Squad, Post Office Box 54, East Berne, NY 12059.

John F.L. Dedrick

VOORHEESVILLE — John F.L. Dedrick, of Voorheesville, the beloved husband of Joan (Billie) Dedrick, died May 19, 2006. He was 87.

"He was affectionately known as ‘The Commander,’ and was famous for his one liners," his family wrote in a tribute.

Born in Albany on Jan. 30, 1919, he was the son of Elizabeth and John L. Dedrick.
He was an avid hunter, fisherman, and Adirondack camper. He also enjoyed gardening and cooking. He was an Eagle Scout and Scout leader, a lifetime member of the Voorheesville Rod and Gun Club, and a Red Sox fan.

He served in the New York State National Guard.

He was retired from the New York Central/Penn Central/Amtrak/Conrail Railroad and served many years as the secretary of its Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.

In addition to his wife, Joan, he is survived by three sons: Mark, Karl, and Erik Dedrick and three daughters: Anne Meilinger, Mary Beth Kazukenus, and Kristine Goodman.

His grandchildren include Jennifer Petherbridge, Alison Brennan, John Kazukenus, Joseph Kazukenus, and Travis, Taylor, and Jordan Dedrick.

He is survived by his step-grandchildren Heather Livengood, Rachael Farnum, Joshua Pistana, John Adams, Jessica and Eric Greth, and Elijah Goodman. He is also survived by his great-grandson, Nicholas Brennan, and his step-great-grandchildren Katie Livengood and Joseph Farnum.

His brothers include Daniel, Eugene, and Joseph L. Dedrick. His sisters are Elizabeth Seminary and Patricia George.

Two sisters, Helen Mosall and Lillian Havens, died before him as did his step-grandson, Joseph Pistana.

The family wishes to extend its sincere appreciation and thanks to the staff of the Guilderland Center Nursing Home for the love and sensitivity shown toward Joan and Jack Dedrick.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Alzheimer’s Association, NENY Chapter, 85 Watervliet Avenue, Albany, NY 12206.

Mary C. Maslowsky

SCHENECTADY — Mary Catherine (Kropp) Maslowsky died at her home at Grove Place, Schenectady, on Sunday, May 14, 2006, following a brief illness. She was 82.

"Mary was a kind and compassionate woman who enjoyed puzzle books, bingo, casino trips, crocheting, and helping those she could," her family wrote in a tribute. "She was known as ‘Grams’ by many, which gave Mother’s Day, the day of her passing, special meaning to those who cared for her."

She lived in Altamont for many years with her husband, William, who died before her. Together they raised four children.

She is survived by her sons Gary and his wife, Carol, of Westerlo and Joe and his wife, Barbara, of Altamont.

Her children Roger and Rita died before her as did her son-in-law Mike Shaffer.

She is also survived by grandchildren Connie Carusone; Roger Maslowsky; Caren DuFresne; Carie Colloton; Cara, Kaylin, and Kelsey Maslowsky; Craig Maslowsky and his wife, Danielle; Stacey Maslowsky; and Amie Sorey and her fiancé Richie DeGroat. She made her home with them and they cared for her during her recent illness.

She is also survived by a sister, Kate Baitsholts, as well as many nieces, nephews, and friends, two special ones being, Tiffany and Rhaequhan. In addition, she is survived by a daughter-in-law, Eileen Maslowsky.

The family thanks Dr. Heffernan and her staff, and Schenectady Hospice for the exceptional care they provided.

Services will be private and at the convenience of the family.

Arrangements are by Light’s Funeral Home of Schenectady.

Memorial contributions may be made to Community Hospice, 1411 Union St., Schenectady, NY 12308.

Virginia A. Melius

GUILDERLAND — Virginia A. Melius, a life-time Guilderland resident, died Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at Our Lady of Mercy Life Center in Guilderland.

She was born and raised in Guilderland, the daughter of the late Mathias and Marie Stutz. She was a longtime member of the Lynnwood Reformed Church and was a 50-year member of the Fort Hunter Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary.

She loved gardening and raised her own vegetables and fruit and was an avid fruit and was an avid reader of mystery books.
Her husband, Harold W. Melius, died before her.

She is survived by a brother, Eugene Stutz, of Guilderland; two sisters, Olga Gray and her husband, Scott, of Hornell, N.Y. and Betty Markgraf of Lodi, Wis. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.

A brother, Alois Stutz, and two sisters, Marie Stutz and Eleanor Barrie, died before her.

A memorial service will be held on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Lynnwood Reformed Church on Carman Road in Guilderland.

The DeMarco-Stone Funeral Home at 5216 Western Turnpike in Guilderland is holding the calling hours today (Thursday) from 6 to 8 p.m. Arrangements are by the Fredendall Funeral Home of Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Lynnwood Reformed Church memorial fund, 3714 Carman Road, Schenectady, NY 12303.

Edwin G. Mooney

ALTAMONT — Edwin George Mooney, a decorated veteran of the United States Navy serving on the USS Lyon and USS Chilton during World War II and a pioneer in organic gardening, died on Monday, May 22, 2006. He was 83.

Born on July 23, 1922, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to the late Francis and Louise (St. Amand) Mooney, Mr. Mooney was a native of Long Island and president and owner of Edson Homes for nearly 40 years before retiring to Altamont.

He was well known for his wide variety of fruits and vegetables using organic gardening techniques.

"His favorite thing was gardening. He did organic gardening before it was popular," his daughter, Kathie Robertson said. "He started doing it on Long Island, and then did it up here."

His daughter said that Mr. Mooney had an article published in an organic-gardening magazine a number of years ago.

She also said that, "He loved his family; his family was very important to him." He was also very fond of his cat, Patti.

Mr. Mooney was active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7062, with the Altamont Seniors, and he was a communicant of St. Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Terry Mooney, also of Altamont; his daughter and son-in-law, Kathie and Jim Robertson of Guilderland; and his daughter-in-law, Robin Mooney of Scotia.

He is also survived by his grandchildren: Michelle, Michael, and Beth Anne of Virginia; Melissa Tamayo and her husband, RJ, of Scotia; Jennifer Mooney and her fiancé, Kevin Osborn, of Shrewsbury, Mass.; Matthew Robertson and Todd Robertson, both of Guilderland; and a great-grandson, Liam Tamayo, of Scotia.

His sons, Edwin Jr. and William, died before him.

A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Friday, at 10 a.m., at St. Lucy’s Church in Altamont. Arrangements are by the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont, and friends and family may call today (Thursday) from 4 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home. Burial will be in the Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Niskayuna.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Altamont Seniors, 106 Fairview Ave., Post Office Box 245, Altamont, NY 12009, or St. Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church, 113 Grand St., Altamont, NY 12009.

— Jarrett Carroll

John Mullen

BERNE—John T. Mullen was a veteran, a teacher, and a scholar of history.

Mr. Mullen died peacefully on Saturday, May 20, 2006, at the Community Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital. He was 74.

Mr. Mullen was born in East Orange, N.J. and attended school in Newark. In 1950, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and served through the Korean War until 1954.

He received his bachelor’s degree in 1958 from Upsala College and his master’s degree from New York University in 1963. He moved to Berne in 1967 and taught at Greenville Central School until 1981, when he retired to pursue his interests in history-related activities.

Mr. Mullen is survived by his wife of 45 years, the former Joan Margaret JanTausch, of Berne; and his sister, Grace Patricia Gibbons, of Bloomfield, N.J.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Wednesday at St. Lucy’s Church in Altamont. Burial was in Rensselaerville Cemetery.

Arrangements were by the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

Mildred G. Oliver

DELMAR — Mildred G. Oliver, a long-time Guilderland farmer, died Saturday, May 20, 2006 at the Good Samaritan Lutheran Health Care Center. She was 92.

Mildred was born in Guilderland and moved to New Salem in 1984.

She owned and operated a farm on Gardner Road in Guilderland from 1940 to 1984. She was a member of the former New Salem Reformed Church.

She is survived by one nephew, Alfred Higgins, and his wife, Eleanor, of Cobleskill.

Two sisters, Cora Batcher and Bertha Higgins, and one brother, Harry C. Oliver, and one niece, Eva Batcher, all died before her.

A private funeral service will be held at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont at the convenience of the family. Burial will be in the Knox Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of choice.

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