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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 7, 2008

Thomas D. Bates

ALTAMONT — Thomas D. Bates, a loving family man who worked in customer service, died at the Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany on Monday, Feb.4. He was 51.

He grew up in Glenville and graduated from Burnt Hills High School in 1975. He worked for Nortrax, the John Deere large construction equipment company off the Northway in Clifton Park, as a customer service representative and was with the company for 17 years.

"He was well respected and loved by his co-workers and customers, all who have been wonderfully supportive to both Tom and I throughout Tom’s battle with cancer," said his wife, Cathy Bates.

"Tom has a sister, Kathy, whose family Tom loved," she went on. "His brother-in-law, John, was like another brother to Tom, one of Tom’s mentors."

Mr. Bates’s brother, David, whom he was very close to, died in 1987 and his parents died not long after.

"He was a loving son who took care of his mom after his dad died, until her death in 1993. They say you know how a man will treat you by the way he treats his mother so I always knew I would be loved and cherished by Tom and I was," said Mrs. Bates. "He was my best friend and soul mate. He was a wonderful stepdad, he loved my children, Courtney and RJ, as if they were his own and they thought the world of him.

"Some of our best memories were the trips to the Adirondacks," she went on, "whether it was camping, going for a Sunday ride, our boat rides on Lake George and at Old Forge, the Log Shows we would attend with Tom in Booneville and Tupper Lake, or walking through the Blue Mountain Lake Museum, we always had a great time.

"Whenever we could take our dogs, they went with us. He just loved Daisy and Dozer; they were his other two children. During Tom’s illness, Daisy didn’t leave his side and knew her spot on the bed. She definitely was one of his best friends."

Mr. Bates loved snow-mobiling, snowshoeing, wood- working projects, and racing. "Many Friday and Saturday nights, spring through fall," said his wife, "you could find Tom at the races with R.J., working on car number 17, their good friend Elmo’s, race car. I used to love Sunday morning after the races. We’d have coffee on our screened porch and they’d be laughing at the previous night’s escapades and figuring out what they needed to change next week to make the car run better.

"Tom was the one who taught both Courtney and R.J. how to drive," she said, "and did it in his full-size pickup truck, telling them, "If you can pass the test in the truck, you’ll be able to drive anything." He was so proud of them both. He was a wonderful influence in their lives and we are so lucky to have had him in our lives for the past 17 years.

"Tom had so many wonderful qualities. He was patient, kind, loving, and had a great sense of humor," Mrs. Bates said. "Tom always had the best one-liners. He was loved by so many; he was just one of those people you wanted as your friend and who made friends quickly. Young people looked up to and respected him and what a legacy to leave.

"Tom will be missed by so many people. I feel so blessed to have had him come into my life. As I have been told so many times in the past few days, we had a love and friendship most people search a lifetime for," Mrs. Bates concluded. "To the love of my life, be free and at peace, I love you."


Thomas D. Bates is survived by his wife, Cathy Bates; two children, Courtney and R.J.; his sister, Kathy Pytlovany and her husband, John; and many nieces and nephews.

His parents, Donald and Marguerite Bates, and his brother, David, died before him.

A funeral service will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. Calling hours will be held today, Feb. 7, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home. Burial will be in High Point Cemetery in Knox. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Melanoma Foundation, 12395 El Camino Real, Suite 117, San Diego, CA 92130.

Cora Elizabeth Cudmore

CENTRAL BRIDGE — Cora Elizabeth Cudmore, who served in the Air Force and worked for General Electric, died on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008, at the River Ridge Living Center in Amsterdam where she had lived since May. She was 86.
"She was very caring — loved a good laugh," said her son, Dana Cudmore.

Born on Aug. 29, 1921 at the former Brady Maternity Hospital in Albany, Mrs. Cudmore was the daughter of Henry and Lavina Smith Warner.

For many years, she lived in Central Bridge and later, at the Hammerstone Village Apartments in Cobleskill. In May of 2007, she moved to River Ridge Living Center, a rehabilitation and long-term care center.

Mrs. Cudmore attended Altamont schools. She later served her country in the United States Air Force. She was stationed in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1953, she was honorably discharged as an Airman Second Class. Upon her discharge, Mrs. Cudmore worked in the purchasing department at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz.

From 1968 until her retirement in 1987, she worked for General Electric in the machine apparatus purchasing department.

Mrs. Cudmore was an active member of the Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church in Central Bridge.

She loved antiques, in particularly milk glass, said Mr. Cudmore. After retiring, she did some traveling, visited antique shops, and worked at one part-time, he said.

Her family was very important to her, said her son. "She had three grandchildren she was very close to."


Mrs. Cudmore is survived by her son, Dana Cudmore, of Cobleskill; her sister, Bernice Spoor, of Cobleskill; and her brother, Raymond Warner, of Delanson. She is also survived by three granddaughters, Libby, Hilary, and Laura, and several nieces and nephews.

Her brothers and sisters — June Armstrong, Harold Warner, Beatrice Graves, and David Warner — died before her.

A memorial service was held on Tuesday at the Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church in Central Bridge with Rev. Steffen A. Zehrfuhs officiating. The Langan Funeral Home in Schoharie made the arrangements with private burial.

Memorial contributions may be made to Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, Post Office Box 273, Central Bridge, NY 12035.

— Tyler Schuling

John H. Hillmann Sr.

John H. Hillmann Sr., a farmer who loved his work, died on Monday, Feb. 4, 2008, in his Selkirk home surrounded by his family. He was 97.

"He was honest and hardworking, which is the greatest compliment you can give a person," said his son, David Hillmann of Altamont.

John Hillmann was born to the late Gustave and Adella Speck Hillmann in Albany’s South End, his son said, and at the age of 16 he worked as a butcher’s apprentice. He loved it when his family moved from the city to a farm in Selkirk, his son said.

He met his wife, Dorothy Byrnes, at a square dance at the Old Red Barn. The couple was happily married for 61 years, until Mr. Hillmann’s death.

As a father, Mr. Hillmann was "steady as she goes," his son said. "He was a good father, very firm," he said.

Mr. Hillmann was involved in agriculture all his life as a dairy farmer and vegetable grower, serving farmers’ markets in Delmar and Albany. "He loved the animals he worked with and he was proud of the plants he grew," said his son. "It was nothing for him to work 10, 12, 14 hours a day."

Mr. Hillmann was "active till towards the end," said his son. "Even last spring, he planted seeds," he said.

His son also said, "He always wanted to be around the house and farm. That’s what he cherished most."


John H. Hillmann is survived by his wife, Dorothy Byrnes Hillmann of Selkirk; his sons, David Hillmann and his wife, Mary, of Altamont; Daniel Hillmann of Tennessee; and John Hillman Jr. and his wife, Debbie, of Schodack; 10 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; one great-great-granddaughter; his brother Henry Hillmann of Selkirk; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Funeral services were held on Feb. 6 at the Babcock Funeral Home in Ravena with Rev. Charles Engelhardt officiating. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery in Glenmont.

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

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

My grandmother was an eternal optimist

By Pam Formica

We buried my grandmother, Margaret Davis. on Jan. 28. This was the birthday of my beloved sister, her granddaughter, who died in 2004. My grandmother was born on February 22, 1919; she would have been 89 years old in a few short weeks. I tell you, the world could use a few more like her.

My grandmother was no saint, to which her children would certainly attest. Like every mother who lives and breathes, she made her share of mistakes, some of which were real doozies.

According to her daughter, my mother, she would not allow my mother to have a dog as a child. This same woman, years later, sent her granddaughters a live baby alligator when visiting Florida. My sisters and I thought this was fabulous; my mother did not.

This was a woman who, at the age of 10, lost her mother and was then raised by a father who was a good man but, nevertheless, an alcoholic. She was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth by any stretch of the imagination. However, she conducted herself as though she were next in line for the throne. (Hey, you never know).

She insisted on good manners, expected exemplary conduct regardless of where or who you were, and considered tailored clothes to be the only appropriate form of dress unless you were doing yard work or cleaning the house. You didn’t have to have a closet full of these clothes, but this was the only accepted form of dress. My poor mother wouldn’t even go to the grocery store if she had tennis shoes on when I was a kid; she felt underdressed to go purchase milk and eggs.

This grand lady was not highly educated, although once dementia hit she had convinced herself, as well as the nursing-home staff, that she had been an English teacher. In reality, my grandmother was a maid to a well-to-do family when she and my grandfather were courting and she went on to be a waitress and then hostess at some high-end restaurants.

She worked hard. My grandfather was a milkman; money was tight. My grandmother used her tip money to pay the contractors each week who were building my grandparents’ home in Saugerties.

My mother didn’t live in anything but an apartment until she nearly graduated from high school. Some of the dwellings they lived in were not exactly spacious or, if you listen to my mother tell it, they were just a scream away from a cardboard box.

My grandparents, being total optimists, kept plugging away until they were able to scrape enough together to build their own home. It wasn’t anything fancy but it was one sturdy little dwelling and it was theirs. My grandmother always worked, even after she stopped waitressing and hostessing.

After my grandfather passed, she went on to be a companion to an elderly, wheelchair-bound woman whose husband had means and she traveled all over with them helping Lilly with whatever she needed. My grandmother, ever the dreamer, was always "waiting for her ship to come in," as she put it. She was a glass is half-full kind of gal, always looking to the positive.

My grandmother was one tough lady. The day my grandfather passed, from cancer that had spread throughout his entire body, I listened as she made one phone call after another, in a choked voice, to tell those close to her, "I lost my best friend today." She could have wallowed in her grief for the next 24 years and nobody would think the less of her for it.

Losing one’s best friend is tough enough but when that person also happens to be your husband, lover, and playmate, it can really suck the life out of you. My grandparents, in their heyday, were active in the Republican Party and went from one gala to another, dancing the night away and, of course, dressed to the nines. They enjoyed life.

If losing your husband at the age of 65 wasn’t bad enough, my grandmother attended her son’s funeral a mere six years ago. He lost the fight waiting for a new heart and broke my grandmother’s in the process.

It was only one year later, after my grandmother fell and broke her hip and the dementia got a real toehold on her, that she entered the nursing home. This would be too much for many people but my grandmother, once settled into a routine, was like the pied piper of the nursing home, cracking jokes and being friendly to everyone. She was named Resident of the Month just this past year!

In 2004, this tough lady watched as her granddaughter, my baby sister, was lain out after fighting an almost eight year battle with a brain tumor. She had to be brought to the funeral home in a specially equipped van so she could be transported in her wheelchair from the nursing home. She came, dressed like the queen mother, to say good-bye and hold her heart in her hands one more time.

Again, this would have been the final straw for many but not my grandmother. She cried like the rest of us, picked herself up, dusted herself off, and continued to smile like a beacon whenever we went to visit her.

She got up each day with a song on her lips. (This information came from one of her aids in the nursing home). She had her hair done, her fingernails painted, and participated in just about every activity offered at the nursing home.

She didn’t have a TV in her room because she was never in there to watch it. She played bingo even though she didn’t like it much. It moved too slowly for her liking. She dressed like one of Santa’s helpers every Christmas, wishing everyone within earshot a "Merry Christmas." She didn’t worry that it would offend anyone, she just wanted to spread cheer.

She attended every religious service offered at that nursing home (including, but not limited to, the Catholic and Jewish services even though she was Lutheran). Faith knows no boundaries.

My grandmother didn’t have any sort of government agency to yank her out of her situation. She had to rely on her own grit. In truth, I believe that grit is far more effective than any help the government might have thrown her way.

She wasn’t one to make excuses or expect someone else to bail her out; she was one to take whatever action she was capable of to better herself and those in her care. She did the best with what she had and didn’t complain about it not being enough or that life was unfair. She was an eternal optimist.

After a long 24 year wait, she’s happily catching up with the milkman now. I tell you, the world could use a few more like her.

Editor’s note: Pam Formica lives in Guilderland.

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