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Obituraries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 14, 2006

Orloff Bear Sr.

GREENVILLE — Orloff Bear Sr. — known to his friends as "Orlie" — was born into a farming family and passed his love of animals and farming on to his children and grandchildren.

He died on Dec. 8, 2006 in the Greenville farmhouse he had shared with his wife, Jeanne, for most of their 63 married years. He was 88.

Mr. Bear was born in Sunny Hill, on Oct. 7, 1918, the son of the late Burdette and Edith K. (Story) Bear. Sunny Hill was the same place his mother and grandfather were born, about 30 miles south of Altamont.

His fondness for farming and animals led to a lifelong love of county fairs. He was president of the Greene County Youth Fair for five years and he attended the Altamont Fair every year since he was five years old.

In 2005, Orlie and Jeanne Bear were honored by the Altamont Fair with a "gold pass," allowing them to attend the fair for free for the rest of their lives.

Mr. Bear recalled then his first trip to the Altamont Fair at age 5 in 1923. His grandfather, who showed cattle, put six of the family’s best livestock on a train in Coxsackie. Mr. Bear and his father, who lived in Greenville, then rode to Altamont in his father’s Model-T Ford.

They met Mr. Bear’s grandfather on the edge of the fairgrounds, where the cattle were unloaded from the train. Many other families came to the fair by horse and buggy.

Events at the fair included a cattle parade where, said Mr. Bear, "Fellas would lead bulls all the way around the race track." When Mr. Bear was a child, his grandfather let him lead his bulls in the parade.

"We also had milking contests then," Mr. Bear said. "They’d weigh the milk and take the butter content of the milk to find whose cow was the best cow. My grandfather won a trophy for that one year."

Mr. Bear would polish the horns and hoofs of his animals to make them shine. Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Mr. Bear showed his first cow in 1932, when he was 14.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, he exhibited not only cattle but also showed goats, sheep, and ponies. His two sons and daughter also got involved, and, today, some of his grandchildren show beef cattle at the fair.

In the 1960’s, Mr. Bear would also harness race at the fair. To train their ponies, the Bears made a small race track in their backyard.

Mr. Bear was very enthusiastic about standard bred horses and horse racing. He was a member of the Tri-County Pony Club for 20 years.

For over 30 years, Mr. Bear was also the night superintendent of the cattle barn at the Altamont Fair, which serves Albany, Schenectady, and Greene counties.

"Orlie’s devotion to the Altamont Fair was demonstrated by his 30 years of service on the Altamont Fair board," his family wrote in a tribute.

"It gets in your blood and you can’t get it out," Mr. Bear said of the fair.

His love for fairs was complemented by his involvement in 4-H and the youth of his community. He was a leader of the Greenville Ramblers 4-H Club for 30 years.

He was also very loyal to the Republican Party in Greenville and was a Republican committeeman for 30 years and a deputy town clerk for his wife for 28 years. His service to his community extended to the Greenville Volunteer Fire Company in which he was a life member.

Mr. Bear was a bus driver for the Greenville Central School District for 35 years and carried thousands of children to school safely through his lifetime.

"He was passionate about sports and recreational activities, enjoying basketball, baseball, and bowling," his family wrote. "He also excelled at dancing and, in fact, his wife claims that the reason she married him was because he was tall, blond, and had fancy footwork."


Mr. Bear is survived by his wife of 63 years, Jeanne (Yates) Bear; two sons, Orloff Bear Jr. and his wife, Terry, and Richard Bear and his wife, Gloria; and a daughter, Katherine Schlenker, and her husband, Michael.

He is also survived by his grandchildren: Mary and Michael Skehan; Christine and Craig Zito; Katie and Kevin Sill; Jeremy and Nick Bear; Eric Bear; Lauren, Lea, Elizabeth, and Jenna Schlenker; and Antoinette, Nicholas, and David Bader. And he is survived by his great-grandsons, Devin and Garret Skehan, and Colin Zito.

He is also survived by two brothers, Wilton Bear Sr. and Paul Bear and his wife, Marylou, and by several nieces and nephews.
A funeral service was held on Tuesday at the Cunningham Funeral Home in Greenville, with interment at the Greenville Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Green County Youth Fair, the Greenville Rescue Squad, or to the Greenville-Norton Hill United Methodist Church.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

Donald W. Brust

ALTAMONT — Donald W. Brust, a World War II veteran and farm equipment salesman, died unexpectedly on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006, at Albany Medical Center Hospital in Albany. He was 86.

Born in Schenectady, he was the son of the late Arthur and Irene Brust. He served as a medic in the Army during World War II.

Following the service, he was a farm equipment salesman for J.S. Woodhouse in Brooklyn and then with Gehl Farm Equipment in West Bend, Wisc.

Mr. Brust was an avid antique car collector. He belonged to the Upper Hudson Valley Automobilists and the Mohawk Club.

He was a member of the Berean Baptist Church and the Noah Masonic Lodge.

His wife, Mary Howenstein Brust, died in 1998.

His is survived by a daughter, Linda B. Van Wie, and her husband, Russell, of Altamont; a son, James A. Brust, and his wife, Karen, of Altamont; a sister, Evelyn Taylor, and her husband, George, of Altamont; three grandchildren, Kimberly A. Loefke and her husband, Scott, of Escondido, Calif., Jennifer L. Chludzinski and her husband, T.J., of Clifton Park, and James M. Brust and his wife, Kathleen, of Altamont; nine great-grandchildren, Courtney, Kiaran, Keelin, Trysten, Brendyn, Aedyn, Devyn, Anna and Matthew; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

A brother, Robert A. Brust, died before him as did an uncle, Lee Wallard, the 1951 Indy 500 winner.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. Friends may call on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. Burial will be in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Guilderland.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Berean Baptist Church, Route 146, Guilderland Center, NY 12085 or to the Western Turnpike Rescue Squad, 200 Center Dr., Albany, NY 12203.

Donna L. Harris

GUILDERLAND — Donna L. Harris, a clerk who gardened for Guilderland and served as a Eucharistic minister, died on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006 at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. She was 59.

She was born in Albany, the daughter of the late Harold and Carolyn Bergeron. She graduated from Colonie Central High School in 1965.
She worked as a clerk for New York State Motor Vehicles and Community Health Plan.

She also became a gardener for the Town of Guilderland Parks and Recreation Department.

She was a former Eucharistic minister at St. Madeleine Sophie Church in Guilderland.

Survivors include her husband of 40 years, Charles M. Harris; daughter, Lynn M. Paradowski and her husband, Wayne, of Colonie; granddaughter, Amber N. Paradowski; and goddaughter, Jessica L. Rue of Knox. Also surviving are several uncles, aunts and cousins.

Her son, Michael C. Harris, died in 1993.

A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated today (Thursday) at 10 a.m. at St. Madeleine Sophie Church at 3500 Carman Road in Guilderland. Arrangements are by Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

Burial will follow at Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery in Colonie.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, 5005 LBJ Freeway, Ste. 250, Dallas, TX 75244 or the Muscular Dystrophy Association, 3300 E. Sunrise Dr., Tucson, AZ 85718.

Wilford C. Willsey

EAST BERNE — Wilford C. Willsey loved life, his children, his grandchildren, and Florida.

Mr. Willsey died on Dec. 9, 2006 at the Eddy Ford Nursing Home in Cohoes with his family by his side.

He was 90.

"Nobody ever loved life more than he did," said his wife, Irene Joslyn Willsey. The couple was married for 55 years.

Mr. Willsey was born in Schenectady, the son of the late Frank and Millie Willsey. The second oldest of eight children, he took care of his siblings while growing up, his wife said.

During World War II, Mr. Willsey ran the family farm.

He worked for the United States Postal Service for 18 years before retiring in 1977.

Mr. Willsey was a joking man, his wife said. "He was the biggest jokester," she said.

Mrs. Willsey recalled their two camping trips to California, as well as the camping trips to Fish Creek Pond in the Adirondacks. Mrs. Willsey also recalled their boating trip up the Mississippi, which started in New Orleans.

Mr. Willsey, she said, also enjoyed carpentry. His children, she said, were "his life, his joy."

Mr. Willsey loved his grandchildren, too, and called his granddaughters "princesses" and "queens," she said.

Mr. Willsey was very fond of Florida, spending 26 years of his retirement there, and returning to East Berne in the summer, Mrs. Willsey said.

"He thought Florida was the next best thing to heaven," she said.


In addition to his wife, Irene Joslyn Willsey, Mr. Willsey is survived by his children, Alan Willsey, and his wife, Denise; David Willsey, and his wife, Diane; Terry Willsey, and his wife, Gail; Brian Willsey; Krista Safford, and her husband, Morris; Joanne Gariepy, and her husband, Donald; his brothers, Robert, Warren, Charles, and Clyde Willsey; his sisters, Floy Behlmer, Doris O’Brien, and Rosemary Flint.

Mr. Willsey is also survived by 13 grandchildren: Morris Safford III; Brent Safford, and his wife, Meredith; Patrick Safford, and his fiancé, Michele; Audra, James, Lara, Madison, Devin, Caroline, Samuel, Joshua, and Keeley Willsey; and Rosemary Gariepy.

Arrangements are by Fredendall Funeral Home of Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Hilltowns Community Resource Center, Post Office Box 147, Westerlo, NY 12193.

— Tyler Schuling

Sheila Cecelia Elizabeth Crowley Spies Powers

GALLUPVILLE — Sheila Cecelia Elizabeth Crowley Spies Powers, an ardent champion of personal and property rights, had incredible judgment about human behavior, and was a terrifically large presence in people’s lives, Chris Spies, her son, said.

Mrs. Powers died, surrounded by her family, on Dec. 8, 2006 after a brief illness. She was 75.

"Anyone who needed a champion, she was there," Mr. Spies said.

Born on Nov. 7, 1931, in Brooklyn, to William and Gertrude (Kennedy) Crowley, Mrs. Powers lived a life distinguished by selfless service to others.

For over 20 years, she was president of the Albany County Farm Bureau.

"She built and maintained a program of important benefits for Farm Bureau members, and was always ready to advocate for their needs. She greeted visitors to the Farm Bureau booth at the Altamont Fair and spoke tirelessly on behalf of agriculture and rural interests," her son wrote in a tribute.

For many years, Mrs. Powers was a director and upstate travel coordinator for the Fresh Air Fund, and hosted numerous inner-city youths in her home; she was also a Girl Scout leader.

Mrs. Powers was very active in community and civic affairs. She was a long-term member of the Schoharie County Republican Committee, and served for years as an election inspector in the Town of Wright.

"Sheila was fiercely devoted to her family. She was a proud parent to her own six children, a generous surrogate parent to other children in need, and she was a guiding light to her grandchildren," Mr. Spies said. "Hers was a life marked by passion — for her family, her causes, and for anyone who needed her support. Rarely has a life been more fully lived, nor more sorely missed."

Mrs. Powers’s daughter, Deborah Norris, said that, because her mother was involved in so much legislation, and "there were so many instances" where she helped farmers, she was at a loss when asked to recall her mother’s most monumental achievements. Mrs. Norris said that standing up for others was something Mrs. Powers "just did," and that advocating for others was "routine." Mrs. Powers’s heroic feats came to be expected.

"OK, you saved another farm today," Mrs. Norris said matter-of-factly.

"I can remember when the two-way bridge collapsed, and she was standing in front of the bulldozers," Mrs. Norris said.

Spies said his mother loved music, played the piano, and loved to sing.

Mrs. Powers also loved reading. "She never stopped reading," Mrs. Norris said. "She read more in a month than some people read in a lifetime," she said.

Mrs. Norris recalled a trip to Washington, D.C. with her mother, where Mrs. Powers met with legislators about invasive and endangered species, and "rewrote the law."

"I was amazed at the amount of respect she garnered," Mrs. Norris said.

"Her hobby was keeping the government at bay," Mrs. Norris said. Mrs. Norris added that Mrs. Powers’s children and grandchildren mattered most to her, with holding the government at bay right behind.

"She was a terrific resource for anyone who needed someone to stand up for their rights," Mr. Spies said of his mother.

When their 64-year-old Guilderland farm was threatened in 2002, after suburban newcomers complained about the smell and mess, the Vojnar family relied on help from Mrs. Powers.

"She was a great help to me," said William S. Vojnar. Mr. Vojnar said Mrs. Powers went to state lawyers about his situation, and wrote letters to Guilderland’s town attorney and supervisor.

"She was a very intelligent woman," Mr. Vojnar said.

Vojnar’s daughter, Dorie Vojnar, described Mrs. Powers as "a fighter for all farmers in Guilderland," and added that she was very instrumental in the Vojnars’ case. Because of Mrs. Powers and The Altamont Enterprise, they won, she said.

Mrs. Powers, Dorie Vojnar said, wrote letters to congressmen and organized meetings.

"She wasn’t a pushover," Mrs. Vojnar said. "She got her point across with dignity."


Mrs. Powers is survived by her children, Maryann Van Scoy, Kathleen Hill, and her husband, John; Deborah Norris, and her husband, Michael; Christian Spies, and his wife, Janet; Sharon Spies; and Jennifer Taylor, and her husband, Jeffrey.

Mrs. Powers is also survived by 14 grandchildren: Erik Van Scoy, Samantha Beck, and her husband, Michael; Brian Van Scoy; Meghan Hill; Lindsay, Matthew, and Julie Norris; Sarah, Tom, Chris, and Hannah Spies; and Jillian, Samuel, and Erin Taylor. She is also survived by a great-grandchild, Braeden Beck.

Mrs. Powers’s parents, William and Gertrude (Kennedy) Crowley, and her brothers — Brian, Kevin, and Alan Crowley — died before her.

A joyous memorial celebration of Mrs. Powers’s life will be held at the Gallupville Gospel Church, on Route 443 in Gallupville today (Thursday) at 4 p.m. Funeral arrangements are by NewComer Cannon Funeral Home.

Memorial contributions may be made to Becky’s House, 296 Hackett Blvd., Albany, NY 12208. Expressions of sympathy may be made at www.new — comerfamily.com.

— Tyler Schuling

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