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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 22, 2007

Julie A. Brate

WESTERLO — Julie A. Brate, a poet with a love of animals who nursed strays back to health, died on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007. She was 53.

"She loved to write poetry and letters to her many brothers and sisters. She was fond of animals and was always taking in strays and nursing them back to health," her family wrote in a tribute. "The family would like to send a special thank you to the staff of the intensive care unit at Albany Medical Center and their dedicated and loving care."

She was born in Salamanca, N.Y., the daughter of Mark and Mary Ambuske.

In addition to her parents, Mrs. Brate is survived by her husband, George Brate; two daughters, Anne Brate, and her companion, Steve, of Tampa, Fla., and Ginny Lou Brate of York, Pa.; three sons, Darrick Brate, and his wife, Heather, of Westerlo, Joseph Brate and his wife, Chris, and Benny Brate, both of York, Pa.

She is also survived by three sisters, Linda Brown, of Perryburg, N.Y., Valerie Slingerland, and her husband, Howie, of Westerlo, and Denise O’Brien, of Albany; three brothers, Glenn Ambuske, of Salamanca (Cattaraugus County), Greg Ambuske, and his wife, Sheri, of Salamanca, and Darrell, and his wife, Angie, of West Virginia; 11 grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held on Monday, Feb. 12, with arrangements by Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association, 7 Washington Square, Albany, NY 12205.

Frank DeSantis

DELANSON — Frank DeSantis, a train enthusiast who worked for General Electric, died on Feb. 2, 2007. He was 88.

"Frank was known for his love and passion of trains and belonged to the Adirondacks Live Steamers Organization," according to a tribute written by his family.

He was the only son of the late Fred DeSantis and Clara Libator DeSantis. He attended St. Mary’s Parochial School in Wappingers Falls and, later, Wappingers Falls High School, according to his family.

Mr. DeSantis worked for General Electric until he retired.

He is survived by his sister, Virginia Hebert, and her husband, Alfred, of LaGrange N.Y. His wife, Sophia DeSantis, died before him as did his sisters, Theresa and Mary DeSantis.

A memorial mass will be held on Friday, Feb. 23, at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Church in Millbrook, N.Y. Funeral arrangements are by Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont and burial will be in Grove Cemetery in the Spring.

Clyde L. Filkins

WESTERLO — Clyde L. Filkins, a decorated World War II prisoner of war who worked as a postal carrier and served with the local fire company, died at the Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Albany on Feb. 17, 2007.

He was 87.

Mr. Filkins was born in Berne on July 9, 1919, the son of the late Fred Hazael and Nettie F. Filkins (née Skinner).

He served in the United States Army during World War II in the Ardennes, Rhineland, and in central Europe. Mr. Filkins received the Good Conduct Medal, the American Theater Ribbon, the European African Middle Eastern Service Ribbon, and the World War II Victory Ribbon.

He also received the Bronze Star, the Infantry Combat Badge, the New York State Prisoner of War Medal, and the United States Army Prisoner of War Medal, said his nephew, Donald LeBuis.

He was a P.O.W from 1944 to 1945 and was an active member of the American Ex-P.O.W Association. He was also a member of the Cub of the Golden Lion Association, a group of soldiers from the 106th Infantry Regiment, said Mr. LeBuis.

Both Mr. LeBuis and Marlene Boomhower, Mr. Filkins’s niece, spoke of their uncle’s silence about his experiences during World War II.

"He was overseas only a few weeks before becoming a prisoner of war," she said.

Mr. Filkins became a prisoner of war on Dec. 19, 1944, "in the first few days of the Battle of the Bulge," and escaped on April 11, 1945, said Mr. LeBuis.

"He was one of the ones who came home and was ready to get on with his life," Mrs. Boomhower said. "He did not talk about his experiences and we all respected that," she said.

"I’ve always wondered about it, but I will never know," Mrs. Boomhower said.

There was only one occasion, said Mr. LeBuis, when Mr. Filkins shared his experiences with him about his time overseas during the war. During that time, he said, Mr. Filkins shared details with him he had never shared with his wife, Margaret.

Mr. Filkins retired after working for the post office in Westerlo as a rural postal carrier. He was a charter member of the Westerlo Volunteer Fire Company and a former member of the Town of Westerlo Rescue Squad.

Mrs. Boomhower recalled her uncle’s involvement in the community and the respect he garnered because of his dedication to his work as a postal worker and his years of service with the Westerlo Volunteer Fire Company. "A lot of people knew him and were acquainted with him," she said.

"He was very prompt," she said, adding that she could "set her clock" by his visits. "I knew that my mail would be here 20 minutes after 12," she said.

"He had a somewhat dry sense of humor," said Mr. LeBuis, and added that his uncle had a deep laugh. He was known as, and took pride in, being a "do-it-yourselfer," said his nephew. He was a "practical problem-solver," said Mr. LeBuis, adding that his uncle grew up during the Great Depression, and learned to solve problems quickly.

Mr. Filkins’s father ran an auto-repair garage in South Berne, where Mr. Filkins spent a lot of his time, said Mrs. Boomhower.

"He loved cars". He took good care of cars — his mother’s and his own," she said. His garage was organized in his own way, she said. Taking care of cars, she said, and taking care of his mother was a big part of his life. Mr. Filkins, she said, took care of his mother since his late teenage years, when his mother became a widow.

Mr. Filkins enjoyed playing cards, snowmobiling, and camping, said Mrs. Boomhower. He took several trips, vacationing in Florida and Montana, she said.

"He was a very big presence in my life, at my home," she said. "He was just a fine man."

Mr. Filkins is survived by his wife, Margaret "Peg" Filkins (née Storm); nieces and nephews, Janice Bassler, and her husband, Fred, of Berne; Robert LeBuis, and his wife, Roberta, of Barneveld (Oneida County); Marlene Boomhower, and her husband, Dennis, of Westerlo; Donald LeBuis, and his wife, Donna, of Mokena, Ill.; Charis Cummings, and her husband, Dennis, of Wilton (Saratoga County); Dennis LeBuis of Selkirk; Lee Crosier of East Berne; Richard Storm, and his wife, Wendy, of Clarksville; and Raymond Storm, and his wife, Karen of East Berne.

Mr. Filkins is also survived by several grandnieces, grandnephews, great-grandnieces, and great-grandnephews.

His sister, Doris LeBuis, and niece, Diane Chamberlain, died before him. He is survived by Diane’s husband, Merritt Chamberlain.

A funeral service was held Tuesday at the Cunningham Funeral Home in Greenville (Greene County). Spring interment with military honors will be held at the Westerlo Rural Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the South Berne Congregational Church, the Westerlo Reformed Church, or to the Town of Westerlo Rescue Squad.

— Tyler Schuling

William H. Garrison

William H. Garrison, a hardworking mason who loved his work, died, following a short illness, on Monday, Feb. 19, 2007, in Dade City, Fla., where he lived. He was 93.

Mr. Garrison worked at the foundry in Voorheesville before becoming a self-employed mason.

"He worked at the foundry in the ’50’s, during the war," his daughter, Carolyn Willsie, said. "My father was a bit of a work-aholic I think. He loved his work."

Mr. Garrison’s wife, Ellen Garrison, died before him in 2005, as did his daughter, Ernestine Martin, and two brothers and two sisters.

He is survived by two daughters, Carolyn H. Willsie, and her husband, Philip, of East Berne, and Dolores Clark, and her husband, Rev. John Clark, of Dade City, Fla.; eight grandchildren; many great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

A service will be held Friday at 1 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. A burial ceremony will take place in the spring in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Berne.

Memorial Contributions may be made to the South Berne Congregational Christian Church, 101 Church Rd., Berne, NY 12023.

— Jarrett Carroll

Lois E. Kahkonen

ALTAMONT — Lois E. Kahkonen, a teacher and a traveler, died on Friday, Feb. 16, 2007. She was 96.

The daughter of two pharmacists, Mrs. Kahkonen was born in Cedarhurst, Long Island, to Frank and Eliza Jennings, who owned a drugstore. Mrs. Jennings was one of the first women to be licensed as a pharmacist in New York and she ran the shop after her husband died until she was 70 years old, said Laura Kahkonen, Mrs. Kahkonen’s daughter.

For most of her life, Mrs. Kahkonen stayed on Long Island, near the water, said her daughter. She"moved north for college, though, and studied French and music at Mt. Holyoke College, where she started in 1932. Her aunt and uncle paid for her education, Ms. Kahkonen said.

After Mrs. Kahkonen graduated, her sister set her up on a blind date with Paul F. Kahkonen and the two were soon married. They were married for almost 60 years.

Mrs. Kahkonen got a master’s degree in teaching from Columbia University and the couple bought their first house in Hollis, Long Island. That was during the Depression, said Ms. Kahkonen, and the newlyweds didn’t have enough money to pay for the closing costs, so the real-estate agent rented out their garage to cover the debt. All three of their children were born in that house, said Ms. Kahkonen, and then they built a house in Rosalind, also on Long Island.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Kahkonen worked in education, Mr. Kahkonen as a principal and Mrs. Kahkonen as a second-grade teacher, said their daughter.

After they retired, they went around the world, she said, first in freighters, then in airplanes. On their first trip to Europe, they brought back a doll for their youngest daughter from each country that they went to, remembered Ms. Kahkonen. They once traveled up the Amazon River, said their daughter. "They just kept going places."

In 1992, Mrs. Kahkonen went to Altamont, to live with her daughter, Linda, and son-in-law, Paul Forand. She became a member of the Altamont Reformed Church and was active in the Jean Fields Circle, Altamont Seniors, and the Guilderland Seniors needlework group. She kept on doing her needlepoint and playing the piano; she loved Chopin, said Ms. Kahkonen.

"She was very cheerful," said her daughter. "She just always looked on the bright side."


Mrs. Kahkonen is survived by her three daughters: Karen Veit; Linda Forand and her husband, Paul; and Laura Kahkonen. She is also survived by two sisters, Virginia Bunning and Marion Plantamura, and five grandchildren: Karen Schiltz; Steven Forand and his wife, Deb; Jim Forand and his wife, Diana; Douglas Forand and his wife, Liz; and Elizabeth Madden and her husband, Kyle. She is also survived by seven great-grandchildren and numerous nephews and nieces.

Her husband, Paul F. Kahkonen died in 1993; her two brothers and a sister also died before her.

A funeral service was held at the Altamont Reformed Church on Tuesday; arrangements are by Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont with burial in East Hampton, N.Y.

— Saranac Hale Spencer

Clement P. O’Clair

KNOX — Clement P. O’Clair Jr., a Korean War veteran and a self-described Knox "country boy," died Feb. 19, 2007 at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany surrounded by his loving family.

He was 73.

Mr. O’Clair, a long-time resident of Knox, was born in Albany, the son of the late Clement and Hazel O’Clair Cummings (née Clickman).

Mr. O’Clair served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War and retired from the state’s Thruway Authority in 1988 as an automotive maintenance supervisor.

His wife, Helene O’Clair, chronicles her husband’s life in a memoir.

"He spent as much time as possible on his grandfather Newt Clickman’s farm, much to the chagrin of his parents," Mrs. O’Clair wrote.

"Most of his summers, he worked with his grandfather, and, when Grandpa stopped farming, he started working for his ‘best friend,’ his uncle, Marshall Clickman, on Marshall’s farm.

"Clem’s heart and soul have always been in Knox, and he has always thought of himself as a ‘country boy.’

"The first chance he got, after his discharge from the Air Force, he moved back on the Hill. In fact, when the opportunity presented itself, he purchased his grandfather Newt’s farm, fulfilling a dream. He raised seven children there until the mid 1960’s, returning to the Hilltowns once and for all in 1978.

"Clem was a member of the United States Air Force and served with the 337th Fighter Interceptor Squadron as an Aircraft Mechanic. He was honorably discharged in 1955. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

"Following a 33-year career with the New York State Thruway Authority, he started as a clerk in the stock room and ended as the State Police Fleet Maintenance Supervisor.

"Clem was very involved in Republican politics in Knox and Albany County. He was chairman of the party in the town of Knox in the ’60’s, and, along with Marshall Clickman, Alvey Ostrander, and Frank Sand, was instrumental in helping the Republicans achieve a surprising majority on the town board. He remained active behind the scenes by getting me involved.

"Clem loved traveling and camping, and especially loved camping in Maine. He often said that he would go only where ‘you can get there by camper,’ so Hawaii was never on the itinerary. He was so taken with all there was to see in the United States that travel outside the country was never a consideration. When traveling became difficult, the Maine coast truly became his vacation land, from Bar Harbor to Kennebunkport to York, finally landing his oceanside dream spot in the sun, surf and sand of York Harbor," she wrote.


Mr. O’Clair is survived by his wife and best friend for 30 years, Helene; sons, Thomas O’Clair, and his fiancée, Ali; James O’Clair, and his wife, Jane; Peter O’Clair, and his wife, Barrie; daughters, Margaret Rockwell, and her husband, Craig; Susan Hall; Katherine Wolf; and Barbara Harling.

He is also survived by step-children Tracy Motta and Rick Monington; sisters, Mary Nahikian, and her husband, Ira; Carol Daly, and her husband, James; brother, Joseph O’Clair, and his wife, Joann; and aunt, Virginia Clickman.

Mr. O’Clair is also survived by 20 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

His sister, Loleta O’Clair, died before him, as did his grandson, Timothy O’Clair, great-grandson, Devon Aunchman, his niece, Kathleen Daly, and uncle and best friend, Marshall Clickman.

A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Friday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m. at St. Lucy’s Church in Altamont. Calling hours will be at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont today (Thursday) from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Burial will be in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Guilderland.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Altamont Rescue Squad, Post Office Box 56, Altamont, NY 12009, or to the Peter G. Young Foundation, 40 Eagle St., Albany NY 12207.

— Tyler Schuling

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