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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 17, 2008

Erika England

Erika England, née Langanke, was born in East Prussia on Feb. 7, 1920. She came to the United States at the age of 7 and was the youngest of six children: Gerhardt, Fritz, Gottfried, Herbert, and Greta.

Erika married George J England, a New York City fireman, in May of 1950. Together they raised their two girls, Georgette Christine and Marlene Elise, who were nineteen months apart.

During her life, Erika was not only a housewife and mother, but also a portrait artist, a designer, a horticulturist, a grandmother, and a free thinker.

She was raised as a Lutheran but followed her own path in spite of what she was taught. Given any opportunity, Erika would explain how, in a past life she believed she was a Druid! In this like, she had an extreme fondness for trees.

Erika lived for the enjoyment of nature. She loved animals and, in 1980, George had purchased a large farm north of the Catskills where they spent the remainder of their years.

Erika always kept herself busy, whether baking, painting landscapes in the later years of her life, or by caring for the many animals she adopted. When her husband became ill with Alzheimer’s, she cared for him as well until his passing in March of 2006.

Erika England died Oct. 27, 2007 in her farmhouse home. She is survived by her two daughters and her many grandchildren.


A memorial service for Erika England was held in New York City in late November attended by a small group of 20 friends and relatives. Reverend Edward O’Dea presided and the foregoing was read by her eldest grandson. Reverend O’Dea blessed her spirit as she was on her way to becoming one with the Holy Spirit.

Alice L. Gaige

ALTAMONT — Alice Gaige was always dancing, and she danced right up until her very last days.

"In the emergency room, she was doing the jitterbug just this past weekend," said her daughter-in-law, Cathy Gaige.

Mrs. Gaige died on Jan. 14, 2008 at St. Peter’s Hospital in Alabny. She was 85.

Growing up in a dance hall surely didn’t discourage her. Her grandparents opened what is now known as Scholz’s Hofbrau on Warner’s Lake before there was a road around the lake; they used to run a barge across the water, said her son, Jim Gaige. Back then, there were cabins, a restaurant, a bar, and a dance hall, he said, and the late Arnold and Elsie Mattice, Mrs. Gaige’s parents, took over the reigns. So, she spent her youth working on the grounds and swimming in the lake.

"She loved living on the lake," Mr. Gaige recalled of his mother. After graduating from the former Berne High School, she moved off the Hill, to Altamont, and began work at General Electric in Schenectady, around the time of the Second World War.

She and her husband, the late James Gaige, didn’t have their first baby until she was 30, but "once they got started they just kept rolling," Mr. Gaige laughed. He was their first born and the oldest of six. "She was always cooking, canning, and baking," he said.

While he was serving overseas as a young man, Mr. Gaige said, his mother would send him chocolate jumbo cookies, the molasses-based treats that had sweetened his childhood. And when he came home from the service around St. Patrick’s Day, he remembered, she made him lasagna and died the noodles green. And always, he said, "She made do with what was there."

As a young mother, Mrs. Gaige would take in knitting and sewing for extra money, he said. "She loved to knit and sew," Mrs. Gaige’s daughter-in-law said. Years later, once her children were wed, "One Christmas, she made sweaters for all six children and their spouses," she said. Mrs. Gaige also sewed wedding dresses for two of her daughters.

While she thoroughly enjoyed her domestic work, Mrs. Gaige was also a sports fan and a devout follower of the New York Yankees. She had the rookie cards and a signed baseball from her favorite player, Dave Winfield, Mr. Gaige said.

A long-time member of the Helderberg American Legion Post Ladies Auxiliary, Mrs. Gaige was always involved in helping with various events. She also enjoyed playing bingo and going bowling, her family said. But, most of all, she loved to dance.

She and her sisters would go out, said her daughter-in-law, and "they would just dance the night away."


Mrs. Gaige is survived by her two sons: James A. Gaige of Altamont and Allan H. Gaige and his wife, Val, of Knox; and by her four daughters: Linda Haines and her husband, Mark, of Mayfield; Joyce Donato and her husband, John, of Altamont; Jill Hudson of West Fulton, N.Y.; and Claudia LeClair and her husband, Steven, of Altamont.

She is also survived by fourteen grandchildren, Timothy J. and Lucas M. Gaige, Alyssa E. Gaige, Thomas J. Haines, Brad Ableman, Ismay and Matt Hudson, and Curt, Kyle, Chris, Korey, Stephanie, Shawna, and Kolby LeClair; three great-grandchildren, Brad, Rylee, and Collin.

She is also survived by her sister, Bobbie Schaible, of Altamont and many nieces and nephews.

Four of her siblings — Mildred Plummer, Dorothy Bradt, Helen Durfee, and Peter Mattice — died before her, as did her son-in-law, Mark Hudson.

A funeral service will be held today, Thursday, at 11 a.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Foundation, 1236 Ginger Crescent, Virginia Beach, VA 23453.

— Saranac Hale Spencer

Paul G. Keppler Sr.

WESTERLO — Paul G. Keppler Sr., a farmer and outdoorsman who was active in his church, died on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2008. He was 69.

Born in Manhattan in 1938 to the late Fred Keppler and Mary Gesko, Mr. Keppler’s family moved to Westerlo in 1941.

He worked on his family’s dairy farm in Knox and later worked for Agway as a truck driver, before retiring.

"He loved hunting. He liked trapping and going ’coon hunting with his son, Pat, and his grandson, Patrick," said his daughter-in-law, Tami Keppler. He enjoyed being outdoors and did a lot of logging, she said.

After he retired, in the 1990s, Mr. Keppler became very involved with his church, the First Baptist Church of Westerlo, where he worked with the Stockade, a Christian Boy Scouts of America group, and also drove the bus for senior outings, Mrs. Keppler said.

He became a trustee of the church, met with a group of men who studied the Bible on Wednesdays, and shuttled seniors to appointments and visits, she said, sometimes using his own car. Each morning, Mr. Keppler met his friends at a restaurant in Rensselaerville for breakfast, she said.

Mr. Keppler performed tasks at the church at least once each day, if not three times, she said.

"The church was very big for him," Mrs. Keppler said.


Mr. Keppler is survived by his daughter, Diane Chrysler, and her husband, Don; and by his sons, Dale Keppler, and his wife, Dawn; Paul Keppler Jr., and his wife, Carolyn; and Patrick Keppler, and his wife, Tami. He is also survived by nine grandchildren, Colleen, Heather, Donald, Nicole, Patrick Jr., Jessica, Matthew, Cheyenne, and Danielle; and four great-grandchildren, Amia, Jeremia, Ashlee, and Katie; three brothers, John, Edmund, and Tom Keppler; and two sisters, Dorothy Leicht and Louise Conway.

His wife, Letha (Faas) Keppler, died before him as did his brother, Freddie Keppler, and his brother-in-law, Larry Conway.

Calling hours will be held today (Thursday) from 4 to 6 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Westerlo, followed by a service at 6 p.m. A private burial will be held in the spring. The Fredendall Funeral Home of Altamont made the arrangements.

Memorial contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church of Westerlo, 618 Route 143, Westerlo, NY 12193.

— Tyler Schuling

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