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Obituraries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 7, 2006

Beverly Eckstedt Preston

VOORHEESVILLE — Beverly Eckstedt Preston, a registered nurse and church deacon, died on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006, at her Woodsedge Court home after a long illness. She was 74.

"Music, traveling, gardening and especially tennis always brought joy to Beverly," her family wrote in a tribute.

Born in Jamestown, she was the daughter of the late Gilbert and Edna Johnson Eckstedt. She had lived in Voorheesville since 1970.

She was a graduate of Jamestown High School and the Women’s Christian Association Hospital Nursing Program in Jamestown, after which she received her registered nurse license. She worked as an RN at various places and retired from the office of Dr. Joel Spiro in Albany in 1997.

As a member of the New Scotland Presbyterian Church, she was a former deacon and choir member.

When her children were younger, she was active in scouting and the Theatre Fund at the Voorheesville Elementary School.

Survivors include her husband, James O. Preston; her children, Stephen Preston and his wife, Bonnie, of Northville and Megan Vail and her husband, Peter, of Wilton; a brother, Duane Eckstedt of California; her grandchildren, Michael and Katherine Vail; and her dear friends, the Martin, Hoffman and Collins families.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend a memorial service at 10 a.m. Friday at the New Scotland Presbyterian Church, 2010 New Scotland Road in New Scotland. Interment will follow in the New Scotland Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the New Scotland Presbyterian Church Memorial Fund, 2010 New Scotland Rd., Slingerlands, NY 12159 or to the Community Hospice of Albany, 445 New Karner Rd., Albany, NY 12205.

Arrangements are by the Reilly & Son Funeral Home, 9 Voorheesville Ave. in Voorheesville

Joel L. Rapp

SOUTH BERNE — Joel L. "Jody" Rapp "loved everything," his mother, Rachael Rapp, said.

Mr. Rapp died on Saturday as a result of injuries he received during an accident on Friday evening. He was 34.

Mr. Rapp, a carpenter, graduated from Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School in 1991.

Rachael Rapp describes her son as an outdoorsman, one who loved to hunt, fish, camp, and loved animals and people. "He loved dogs, he loved the outdoors, and he loved it at his job," she said.

"He touched many lives," she said, "and was soon going to be promoted to be a foreman."

Mr. Rapp, who was employed by the Local #370 Carpenter’s Union in Albany, had been at his job for less than a year, and was "loved by employees and could motivate others," his mother said.

Jaimee Thompson, Rapp’s fiancée, knew Rapp since their youth; the couple was together seven-and-a-half years. The two, she said, enjoyed taking trips.

Ms. Thompson and Mr. Rapp had planned a trip to Pulaski to salmon fish at the end of this month, and were planning to build a house. Upon its completion, the couple was to be married next year.

"He loved his property," Ms. Thompson said. "He took a lot of pride in it."

In his youth, Mr. Rapp loved to ride horses, rode bulls in shows, and was involved in 4-H, and the South Berne Youth Fellowship, Mrs. Rapp said.

Despite his rugged side, his mother said, "He liked to get dressed up a bit."

"He was very neat and orderly"He had a big heart. He never let anyone be upset for long," Thompson said.

"He had a good heart," Mrs. Rapp reiterated. She added that the family donated his heart "so that goodness could live on." She concluded, "Somebody out there has a good heart."

Mr. Rapp is survived by his fiancée, Jaimee Thompson, of Reidsville; his parents, Robert and Rachael Rapp, of South Berne; two brothers, Randy Rapp and his wife, Beth, and Jamie Rapp and his wife, Carol Ann, both of South Berne; and his grandmother, Ethel Rapp of South Berne.

He is also survived by nieces and nephews, Renée, Jesse, Randy Jr., and Billy Rapp, all of South Berne; his godparents, Debbie Stalker, Sue Ragone, and Randy Rapp; and his dear friend, Tony Bischert. Mr. Rapp is also survived by several aunts, uncles, and cousins.

His brother, Jeffrey Rapp, died in 1988.

A funeral service will be held today (Thursday) at 11 a.m. at the South Berne Christian Congregational Church in South Berne. The Fredendall Funeral Home made the arrangements. The burial will be in the South Berne Cemetary.

Memorial contributions may be made to the South Berne Christian Congregational Church, Berne, NY 12023.

— Tyler Schuling

In Memoriam:
Love ya.
— Bob, Rachael, and Jaimee

Kurt P. Voightman

Kurt P. Voightman was called "Chipper" since he was born 40 years ago.

"He’s been chipper forever," said his mother, Donna Pickard of Altamont. "He was sweet. He was very placid. He didn’t hurt anybody. People just loved him."

She went on, "He was profoundly mentally retarded; he was one-and-a-half to two years old, mentally," she said. "He had a look about him, a mischievous look that people just love. He’d close his eyes and smile."

Mr. Voightman died on Monday, Sept. 4, 2006, at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson, N.Y.

Mrs. Pickard, a licensed practical nurse, said, "I had to make the decision to DNR," meaning "do not resuscitate." She said, "It was the toughest decision I ever made. I talk to other people about it, but when it’s your very own"," she said, her voice trailing off.

Her son was suffering from leukemia, she said, and she decided it would be best for him. She spoke of Sunday, at the hospital in Hudson, the day before he died: "Sunday he gave me a wink and a smile. You could read his expressions like you wouldn’t believe."

Mrs. Pickard now is looking for a small truck to put in her son’s coffin. "I can’t put in his favorite truck," she said. "It’s too big. It’s a plastic dump truck. It won’t fit in the casket."

Her son’s favorite activities included strumming the radiators and spinning the wheels on his truck. "He’d turn the truck upside down and spin the wheels as fast as he could," said his mother. "If he had been normal, he would have been a mechanic."

She added, "What’s normal anyway" He was more normal than we are."

She concluded, "He was just a very loving kid, a big kid."


He is survived by his mother, Donna Pickard and her husband, Victor, of Altamont, and his father, Paul Voightman of Rochester, N.Y.; two brothers, Lawrence E. Fournier of Altamont and Donald Pickard and his wife, Maryanne, of Albany; one sister, Jenet Behan, and her husband, Thomas, of Averill Park; his grandmother, Christine Galloway, and her husband, Raymond, of Ballston Spa; two nephews, John and Jack; and one neice, Alyssa.

A funeral service will be held Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. Burial will be in Holy Spirit Lutheran Cemetery in Glenmont. Friends may call on Saturday, at the funeral home, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

Paula Zuk

BERNE — Paul Zuk — a farmer, a mechanic, a woodworker — was a man of many talents, all cultivated through hard work and shared with generosity.

He spent most of his life in Berne where he and his wife, Mary Kozar Zuk, raised three children.

Mr. Zuk died on Friday, Sept. 1, 2006, at the Avenue Nursing and Rehab Center in Schenectady. He was 90.

"He was so patient," said his son and eldest child, Alan Zuk. "I don’t recall him raising his voice — ever. However, when he said something, you did it. There was no discussion. It was the law of the family...not in an aggressive or bad way."

Mr. Zuk also said, "He had such a work ethic; it was a great influence on me and my two sisters."

Paul Zuk was born in New York City to parents who came from the Ukraine. "My grandmother stowed away and came through the original Ellis Island," said Alan Zuk. "She lied about her age to get in."

Paul Zuk’s father was a chef and his mother was a homemaker. He spent his early years in New York City before the family moved to a farm in Berne. "It was at Zuk’s Four Corners," said Alan Zuk.

Paul Zuk got a strong work ethic from his father and learned generosity from his mother, said his son.

Alan Zuk described him as "absolutely generous, like his mother." He went on, "When you visited Grandma — she didn’t have much — you came home with more than you brought. Even if your visit was unannounced, you came home with something she baked or canned or sewed."

Paul Zuk was a World War II veteran. He served in the United States Army from 1941 to 1945 in New Guinea and the Philippines.

"He worked in vehicle maintenance close to the front lines; he carried a weapon," said his son of Mr. Zuk’s military service. "He really never talked about it much...He said many times he wouldn’t take a million dollars for the experience, but he wouldn’t do it over."

Mr. Zuk married Mary Kozar in New York City while on leave in January of 1942. He spent three years after the war in the city, working as a taxicab mechanic before moving to Berne in 1948. The next year, he purchased the Austin Shultes farm on Canaday Hill Road, now owned by Laurel Dover and Duncan Searl. He ran a dairy farm there until 1975.

"He had a sense of the natural order of life," said his son. "He knew the time to plant, the time to watch things grow, the time to harvest."

His son went on, "He would be so patient. When weather was bad, he would wait. Maybe it would be a Sunday or when you had other plans, but you would do the business of farming."

Paul Zuk was a member of the Albany Cooperative Extension Service and the Farm Bureau. He was also a member of the Beaverdam Reformed Church and the First Reformed Church of Berne. The two churches shared a minister and, when the congregation dwindled at the Beaverdam church, it combined with the church in Berne.

"I am fortunate enough to have grown up on the family farm and spent countless hours with my father...operating machinery, driving the tractor from an early age," said Alan Zuk. "It gives you a sense there’s a job to do...You start the job; you finish the job."

Mr. Zuk admired his father’s strength.

"During the summer, he would hire teenagers to help him harvest the hay crop," recalled his son. "He wouldn’t show off his strength. But he could throw a hay bale like people throw a shot put....

"Some of the teenagers would try to do it. They couldn’t come close; I never could. It was strength and technique. He demonstrated he was the strongest guy around. He didn’t do it to brag."

Mr. Zuk’s strength was matched by his stamina. "He was the hardest worker," said Alan Zuk. He recalled when, as a teenager, his parents would take a weekend away, leaving him and his two sisters to do the farm work.

"I would literally be exhausted with what he did day in, day out," said Alan Zuk. "He would work 14, 15 hours a day."

Mr. Zuk’s work wasn’t confined just to farming. In his early years at the farm, he would drive a snowplow for the county in the winter months. He then worked for decades as a bus driver and mechanic for the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District.

When Alan Zuk became BKW’s transportation supervisor, he would call on his father to fill in for absent mechanics. "It was a pleasure to have him with me," said Mr. Zuk. "He was a great mechanic; he needed no supervision. He could fix anything."

His father had the ability to analyze a problem, and solve it, Mr. Zuk said. "He would take it as a challenge if someone said something was beyond repair. He’d get whatever it was back running again."

At the end of his work day, Paul Zuk would spend time in his wood shop. Over the years, he completed a wide variety of projects, ranging from the practical — step stools, chairs, and tables — to the fanciful, such as exquisitely crafted doll houses.

He sometimes found his materials in odd places. Once, on a trip to the town landfill, his son recalled, "He spied some oak boards. He brought them back home and turned them into a table for the kids."

Mr. Zuk also transformed discarded household objects into finery for his miniature houses. The plastic cork from a bottle of sparkling wine, for example, served as a splendid lamp in a doll-house living room.

Mr. Zuk could replicate an object just by looking at it. For example, his son said, he once saw a clothes hamper in a department store. "He took a snapshot and built it from scratch," said his son. "We have it in our house.

"When he retired from farming, his projects got much larger," said Mr. Zuk. "He made roll-top desks and a replica of his farmhouse."

His proudest moment as a woodworker came when Jack Norray Jr. took his doll house to a Woodworkers’ Society convention in Saratoga. "Everybody hung around his doll house," said Mr. Zuk. "Someone wanted to rent it to display the miniature furniture he made; someone else wanted to exhibit it at a museum."

Describing his father’s doll houses as "art work," Mr. Zuk went on, "It was never his intention to show off his work."

Paul Zuk often gave his handiwork away. If someone asked him to build something, said his son, "He took barely enough or the materials."

He built things not to show off, but to make others happy. "He built kitchen sets for his grandchildren," said Mr. Zuk. "He took pleasure in giving things away."

In addition to his wife, Mary Kozar Zuk, Mr. Zuk is survived by three children, Alan Zuk and his wife, Mildred, of Berne, Joan Pearson and her husband, Jonathan, of Glenville, and Marilyn Warner and her husband, Dennis, of Amherst, N.H.; four grandchildren, Stephanie and Laura Zuk and Jonathan and Christopher Pearson; and one sister, Stephanie (Tessie) Youmans of Schenectady.

A funeral service was held on Monday at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the First Reformed Church of Berne, Berne, NY 12023 or to the Helderberg Ambulance Squad, Post Office Box 54, East Berne, NY 12059.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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