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Obituraries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 23, 2006

Rebecca White Flansburg

VOORHEESVILLE — Rebecca White Flansburg, a homemaker and long-time Voorheesville resident, died Saturday, Nov. 18, 2006, at the Community Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. She was 93.
Born in Coeymans, she had lived in Voorheesville for the past 67 years. She was a member of the Guilderland Senior Citizens and a member of the Voorheesville First United Methodist Church.

"Her love of flowers and baking will be remembered by many," her family wrote in a tribute. "She will be loved always and missed by all who knew her."

Her husband, John Flansburg, died before her.

She is survived by her children Mildred Traver and her husband, Robert, of Ravena, Jacqueline Wile and her husband Richard, of Massachusetts, and Lillian Downes of Albany; sisters Anna Williams of Ravena and Katherine Gombe of New Jersey.

Seven of her siblings died before her: Carrie Goodfellow, Ruben White, Mary Whitbeck, Hester Morehouse, Alice Van Patten, Philip White, and Willard White.

She is survived by her grandchildren: Keith Traver, Robert Traver, Dawn Essex, Denise DuBois, and Jacob Wile. She is also survived by six great-grandchildren and was a loving grandmother to many others.

Funeral services were held Tuesday morning at the Voorheesville First United Methodist Church in Voorheesville. Arrangements are by Reilly & Son Funeral Home of Voorheesville. Burial was in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in New Salem.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Hospice of Albany, 445 New Karner Rd., Albany, NY 12205.

Clinton J. Lawyer

VOORHEESVILLE — Clinton J. "Buster" Lawyer Sr., a teamster and decorated World War II veteran, died Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006, at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Albany. He was 86.

Born in Fulton, N.Y., he was raised in Schoharie and lived for the past 60 years in Voorheesville. He lived on North Main Street at the time of his death. He served in the United States Army during World War II.

As a member of the Teamsters Local #294, he was employed as a truck driver, retiring in 1985.

He was a member of the American Legion in Voorheesville and a life member of the Voorheesville Rod & Gun Club. He was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing and hunting. Also, he enjoyed bowling and cooking.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Elinore Georgia Lawyer; his children, Phyllis Mazone and her husband, Joseph, of Delmar, Clinton Lawyer Jr. and his wife, Peggy, of Rotterdam, Janet Shultes and her husband, Robert, of Glenmont, Pauline Lawyer and her husband, Spencer, of East Berne, and Esther Klopfer, and her husband, George, of Voorheesville.

His children, William and Frances Lawyer, died before him.

He is also survived by his sister, Evaleen Doty of Middleburgh; and by his grandchildren, Joseph Mazone Jr. and his wife, Suzanne, Christopher Mazone, and his wife, Marie, Amy White and her husband, John, Molly and Marcy Shultes, Matthew Warnken and his wife, Alison, Randy Warnken, Blair and Gregory Klopfer, William Lawyer and his wife, Kim, and Jeffrey, Michael and Brian Lawyer.

He is also survived by five great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were Monday morning at Reilly & Son Funeral Home in Voorheesville. Burial was in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Guilderland.

‘A legend on the Hill’
Morris Willsey, farmer and mechanic, dies at 79

By Tyler Schuling

BERNE — When Morris Willsey died on Saturday, part of a way of life died with him.

"He was a legend on the Hill," Priscilla Schaap, his daughter, said.

Mr. Willsey farmed the Helderberg land where he grew up and watched it progress from the days of horse-drawn plows.

He chronicled his life and times in a 1992 memoir, "The Past Not Forgotten."

"As a man born in the summer of 1927, I have many happy memories of farming a 140-acre farm in Albany County in the Town of Berne, New York," Willsey wrote.

He died Saturday, Nov. 18 at St. Peter’s Hospice Inn in Albany.

He was 79.

Mr. Willsey worked at the GLF Agway in Berne for Frank Hart & Son, and was a lifetime member of the Mohawk Pioneer Gas Association.

Farmers in Mr. Willsey’s day were also mechanics.

"His greatest hobby was engines — anything to do with engines," his daughter said. "As he got older, it was making his family happy."

Ms. Schaap said Mr. Willsey went to any gas or steam engine show he could get to. He and his wife often took their camper out, Schaap said.

"They wouldn’t tell anyone they were going. They would just take off and go," she said.

In "The Past Not Forgotten," Willsey recalls his farming experience — his round dairy barn constructed by his father and grandfather, his cow stable, his dairy herd of Brown Swiss cows, changes he saw throughout the years in milking methods, his creek nearby, as well as the impact new technology and electricity had on his farm.

"Our dairy barn was a round barn, 60 feet across and 60 feet high, built in 1912 by my father and grandfather. The barn was five years in the planning. The sill and plates were sawed round on a tablesaw, the studding and rafters were precut"The new was built of concrete for foundation and the floor which was mixed by hand using creek gravel. The same year the barn was filled with hay," he wrote.

Mr. Willsey’s round barn was included in Barns in the U.S.A. by Wilson Wells, published in 1976.

That same year, the barn burned.

"As the life of the barn ended August, 1976, when an arsonist set fire to the barn, totaled, destroyed, lost three Model A Fords, a 1930 Chevrolet pickup, 14 antique one-cylinder engines, and a $10,000 shop," he wrote.

But most of his memoir chronicles the farm in its heyday.

"The cow stable was in a half-circle. The cows stood with their heads toward the center"The dairy herd was 20 to 30 registered Brown Swiss cows. Prior to 1932, milking was done by hand. Then a milking machine was purchased. The machine would milk two cows on a single pail. The pail set on the floor between two cows with hoses attached to the milkers on the cow. Vacuum for the milking machine was from a vacuum pump run by one-half horse power gas engine. We also had a 32-candle power generator, which furnished lights when milking," he wrote.

"What a great thing lights! This method of lighting was used until 1936 when electric was furnished — used electric for lights until 1962. We stopped farming because of strict rules of the milk company. They wanted bulk milk cooler. I still have the milking machine, which works great!" he wrote.

"The cooling of milk prior to 1938 was with ice cut from the farm pond stored in an ice house covered with sawdust to prevent melting. Then a milk cooler was purchased to cool the milk. Milk was put in 10 gallon milk cans taken each morning to a milk bench, where it was picked up by a local hauler and taken to a milk plant," he wrote.

"In May of 1938, I purchased a new Farmall F-20 International on steel wheels on back. Used the steel wheels until late ’40’s when rubber tires were purchased. I still have this tractor running in fine shape. Later, in farming, I purchased used two more Farmall F-20s; mower for tractor, haybine and pickup baler — used this method until 1962 when we stopped farming," Mr. Willsey wrote.

"Farming was done with horses until 1928. That year, an 816 International tractor was purchased, making plowing, harrowing, planting, and harvesting much easier. In 1932, a hay loader and hay rake were purchased making haying easier — used this method until 1962."

"To supplement the income of farming, apples and potatoes were grown. These were packed in barrels, which were then taken to Altamont, put in rail cars, and shipped to a dealer. We further supplemented the income of the farm from 1930 until 1962 from eggs sold locally and to retail stores. We maintained a flock of chickens from 200 to 700. The feed for the laying hens was made from grain raised on the farm with a supplement to make a laying mash for the hens," he wrote.

"Also had 600 maple taps and made the average of 200 to 300 gallons of maple syrup to be sold."

Mr. Willsey wrote conclusively, "Farming on a 140-acre was rather simple — hard work and long hours."


Mr. Willsey is survived by his wife, Anna Willsey, of Berne; his children, William Willsey, Rachel Haley, Priscilla Schaap, David Willsey, and Karen Murrell; his step-children, Mary Ann O’Neil and Daniel Gunville; and his sister, Janice Irons Pearson.

Mr. Willsey is also survived by three granddaughters, three grandsons, five great-grandsons, and one great-granddaughter.

There will not be any services. Memorial contributions may be made to the Berne Reformed Church, 1663 Helderberg Trail, Berne, NY 12023; the Helderberg Ambulance Squad, Post Office Box 54, East Berne, NY 12059; or to the Community Hospice of Albany, 445 New Karner Rd., Albany, NY 12205.

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