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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 2, 2008

William G. Bowers

William G. Bowers, whose poet’s heart soaked in life from his boat afloat on the river, died on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008.  He was 85.

A little wooden rowboat was Mr. Bower’s first love, said his daughter, and it shaped him.  As a teenager, growing up in the Stockade area of Schenectady, Mr. Bowers would take his boat out on the river for hours.  “It was just a wooden boat,” said Amy Danckert.  “That was his love.”

Mr. Bowers took his children and grandchildren out on the Mohawk, she said.  “He knew the river very well.”

He left his river during World War II, when he joined the Signal Corps after graduating from Nott Terrace High School.  Mr. Bowers spent four years in Hawaii, where, still, “His passion was the water,” Mrs. Danckert said.

On returning home, Mr. Bowers used some of his military communications’ training to work in advertising and sales at General Electric, where he stayed for 41 years.  When he lived in Rotterdam for 12 years, Mr. Bowers shared his knowledge of the area by serving as the town historian, Mrs. Danckert said.

“He had a natural ability to be a speaker, a communicator,” said his daughter, who remembered him as a modest man.

“He didn’t like extravagances at all,” she said.  “He never spoke ill about anyone.”

Mr. Bowers took comfort in the company of his family, his daughter said.  “He was the observer,” she said of his role.  He wasn’t stern and he didn’t yell, she said, “We could just sit on the boat and not talk.”

A lover of words, Mr. Bowers often read and would underline his favorite passages, sometimes writing “Amen” in the margins of his books, Mrs. Danckert said.  In his later years, she said, “I would read poetry to my dad.”

One of the underlined poems that she read to him was by Frank Lebby Stanton, “This world that we’re a-livin’ in is mighty hard to beat.  You can get a thorn with every rose, but ain’t the roses sweet.”


Mr. Bowers is survived by his son, David W. Bowers of Wake Forest, N.C., his daughters, Carol G. Hersh and her husband, Don, of Sharon, Mass., and Amy B. Danckert and her husband, Paul, of Altamont.  He is also survived by his sister, Jessie L. Roensch of Scotia, and his brother, John Bowers of Madison, Wis., and by his five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and two nieces.

A funeral service was held on Tuesday at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont and burial was in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Schenectady.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Schenectady Historical Society, 32 Washington Ave., Schenectady, NY  12305.

— Saranac Hale Spencer

Helen C. Johnson

GUILDERLAND — Helen C. Johnson, a retired orthopedic nurse, died peacefully at Our Lady of Mercy Life Center in Guilderland on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008. She was 96.

“She moved to Guilderland from Boston at age 76 to be closer to our family,” said her daughter Bettye Goodnow of Guilderland. “I think she really enjoyed living in Guilderland. She said, ‘I think people are friendlier here than in the city.’ ”

Mrs. Johnson was a member of the Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church, where she became involved with the Meals on Wheels delivery program, which she served for over six years. Mrs. Johnson was often accompanied on her deliveries by a fellow member, Mrs. Goodnow said.

“We used to be concerned in the winter time. These two gals would go with their meals on wheels. They did a good job,” Mrs. Goodnow said.

“She was a caregiver. She was a nurse,” she said of her mother.

Mrs. Johnson outlived many of her peers, Mrs. Goodnow said. Mrs. Johnson’s body was donated to the Albany Medical College Anatomical Gift Program.

“She had always talked about it,” Mrs. Goodnow said. “I think she realized the importance of scientific studies, and she felt that was some way she could make a difference. She never wavered on that. I never heard her discuss anything else. She always knew that.”

Mrs. Johnson was born March 3, 1912, in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada to John S. and Elizabeth Randall Renton. Mrs. Johnson moved to Boston, Mass. at age 18. She married William Johnson in 1936, and was widowed in 1960.

“She was one of the working moms when it wasn’t a popular thing to do. But it was a necessity. She would work nights so she’d be home during the day,” Mrs. Goodnow said. “She was a strong woman. She had to be, widowed at an early age. She had to step up to the plate. She did it. She was a very strong woman.”

Mrs. Johnson was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star for 25 years while she lived in Boston, Mrs. Goodnow said. “I have her pin,” she said.

At age 90, Mrs. Johnson moved to an assisted living facility, where she lived for three years. After an illness, she moved to Our Lady of Mercy Life Center, which eliminated visits to local emergency rooms with hours-long waits, Mrs. Goodnow said. The staff at Our Lady was attentive and often prevented crises from occurring, she said.

“I wanted to let people know I was very happy with Our Lady. My mother was in a dementia unit. I just couldn’t handle her needs at home,” Mrs. Goodnow said, adding that she visited and stayed with her mother four to five times per week. During these visits, she grew to know the staff and other residents.

“They were loving and kind, and always respectful of [residents]. That’s not an easy job. This was as good as it could have been. I’m really grateful to the staff over there. They served her well,” Mrs. Goodnow said.

She concluded of her mother, “She was fun to be with. We had some nice trips together.”


Mrs. Helen C. Johnson is survived by her daughter Bettye Goodnow and her husband, Wayne, of Guilderland; her daughter Virginia Cook and her husband, Frank, of Florida; her sister, Gwendolyn Paschall, of Florida; her brother, Donald Renton, of Nova Scotia; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Two of her sisters and two of her brothers died before her.

A memorial service for Mrs. Johnson will be held at a later date. Arrangements are by Fredendall Funeral Home of Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Guilderland Food Pantry, 2291 Western Avenue, or the Guilderland Animal Shelter, Post Office Box 339, both in Guilderland, NY 12084.

— Jo E. Prout

George Martin

ALTAMONT — George Emile Martin, who worked on developing the first computers, was a religious man with old-fashioned values, which he instilled in his children.

He died on Sept. 28, 2008 at St. Peter’s Hospice Inn in Albany, surrounded by his family. He was 77.

“He was the kind of person who was brought up to fix things,” said his wife, Joyce Martin. “He didn’t waste anything.”

Mr. Martin was born on Jan. 8, 1931 in Grand Isle, Maine, the son of the late Henry and Leona Martin.

His father ran a general store in a little French-speaking town near the Canadian border, surrounded by potato farms, said Mrs. Martin. His parents were born in New Brunswick, Canada and their family life, with eight children, revolved around the Catholic Church, she said.

After graduating from William Hall High School in Hartford, Conn. in 1949, Mr. Martin served his country in the United States Navy from 1951 to 1953.

After being honorably discharged, he went to work for Sperry Univac; he worked for the company, which became Unisys, for over 30 years as a computer engineer.

Joyce Martin met the man who would become her husband when she was in nursing school in Syracuse. “He worked for Univac, on the first computer, back in the beginning,” she said. Mrs. Martin’s roommate set her up on a blind date with him. When she resisted, her roommate said, “Just go out with him and get it over,” Mrs. Martin recalled with a laugh.

Their relationship endured. The couple was married for 46 years and raised four children.

Mrs. Martin described her husband as a “devoted and very strict” father. “He was very old-fashioned,” she said. “He taught them some good values.”

The Martin family moved to Altamont 32 years ago and loved it. “When we had our fourth child, Ellen, we were a bit crowded,” recalled Mrs. Martin. During his lunch hour, a friend of Mr. Martin talked him into looking at property on Pond Hill Lane off of Dunnsville Road.

“He called me and said, ‘You’ve just got to see this view,’” recalled Mrs. Martin. “I loved it right away.“ She went on about Altamont, “We loved the village. It’s probably the wisest decision we ever made.”

Mrs. Martin continued, “He had never built anything before, but he built his own house here.” The 10-acre property included a pond on which Mr. Martin would skate in the winter. “And we cross-country skied in the woods,” said Mrs. Martin.

She described her husband as stubborn and as being “a very hard worker.“ Once, when she was away, he worked with their children to plant 2,000 spruce trees. “The kids were glad when I came back,” Mrs. Martin said with a chuckle, quoting their sentiments: “When Dad started something, he had to finish.” The spruce trees are huge now.

Mr. Martin was also a very religious man. He was an active parishioner of St. Lucy’s Church in Altamont and a volunteer for Community Caregivers, and the Altamont Community Pantry, and he delivered food to shelters in Albany — all of which he very much enjoyed.

”Religion was a good part of his life,” said Mrs. Martin. “He was raised that way. We tried to pass that on to our children.”

Mr. Martin also loved being outdoors. “He loved nature and loved to be outside,” said his wife. “For him, a walk in the woods was a religious thing.”

Although her husband was a serious person, Mrs. Martin said, “He did enjoy a good laugh, especially at himself.”

She went on, “He totally enjoyed his kids, especially as adults. And he delighted in his grandchildren.“

 Their daughter, she said, showed him an ultrasound of her unborn baby the week before he died and told him the child’s middle name would be his — George. 


George Emile Martin is survived by his wife, Joyce Martin, of Altamont, and his children, David Martin and his fiancée, Shannel Arrington, Paul Martin and his wife, Kimberly, Theresa Martin, and Ellen Gokey and her husband, Matthew; and his grandchildren, Jarrod Martin, Alana Martin, and Emily Gokey.

He is also survived by his brothers, Rev. Norman Martin of the Philippines, Reno Martin of New Market, N.H., and his sisters, Theresa Theriault of Southington, Conn., Jeanne Moylan of West Hartford, Conn; a sister-in-law, Jeannette Martin of East Hartford, Conn., and many nieces and nephews.

His sister Agatha Edwards died before him as did his brothers, Rodolphe Martin and Gerard Martin.

A memorial mass will be celebrated on Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Lucy’s Catholic Church on Grand Street in Altamont. Calling hours will be on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

The family offers a special thank-you to the staff of New York Oncology Hematology, 4 McCauley at St. Peter’s Hospital, and St. Peter’s Hospice Inn for their wonderful care.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Lucy’s Church, Post Office Box 678, Altamont, NY  12009.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

Francis J. (Frank) Orsini

ALTAMONT — Francis J. Orsini, a welcoming soul who carried on his family’s traditions, died on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008.  He was 55.

“Frank was pretty much the life of the party,” said Jeff Orsini, Mr. Orsini’s younger brother.  They grew up in a close family, Jeff Orsini said, and Frank Orsini was in the middle of a pack of two brothers and a sister.

He graduated from high school in June of 1971 and joined the Army by July, his brother said.  Coming from a family of World War II veterans, Frank Orsini was proud to serve, his brother said.  “It was just in our blood.”

Frank Orsini spent most of his life around Altamont, with jaunts to Arizona and Texas, where, his brother said, “I’m sure he was making friends.”

His brother was a man who brought people together, Jeff Orsini said.  In Virginia, Jeff met people who knew Frank Orsini and, again, in Florida, he met people who knew his brother.  The eldest brother, Jim Orsini, met someone at a rest stop on the Mass Pike who knew Frank Orsini. 

“He loved to talk,” Jeff Orsini said of what drew so many people to his brother.

Frank Orsini had a way with plants as well as people, his brother said.  “He was very proud of his yard work and landscaping,” he said.

For a while, Frank Orsini had a landscaping business, he said, but he worked most of his life as a heavy-equipment operator for the Albany County Highway Department in Knox.

With no children of his own, Frank Orsini was a devoted uncle.  “[He] loved my kids and my sister’s kids,” Jeff Orsini said.  He just liked to spend time with them, sometimes taking the kids to watch the airplanes come in and fly away at the airport.

Jeff Orsini plans to ask everyone to write down a story about his brother, he said, “Because everybody’s going to have a story.”


Frank Orsini is survived by his brothers, James P. Orsini, of Schoharie, and Jeffrey Orsini and his wife, Lisa, of Guilderland, and by his sister, Jane Swint, and her husband, Charles, of Delanson.  He is also survived by his nieces and nephews: James, Vanessa, and Joshua Orsini; and Charles M. Swint and his wife, Lilah, Derek Swint, Jeffrey Orsini Jr., and Stacey Orsini; and by many cousins.

Relatives and friends are invited to a graveside service tomorrow, Friday, at 1 p.m., at Fairview Cemetery on Route 146 in Altamont, followed by a gathering to celebrate his life at the Boyd Hilton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post on Mill Street, in Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Middleburgh Ambulance Corp., Cotton Hill Rd., Middleburgh, NY  12122.

— Saranac Hale Spencer 

Edward J. Zaremski

Edward J. Zaremski, a World War II veteran and retired postal worker, died peacefully on Sept. 24, 2008. He was 84.

He was the son of the late Statia and James Zaremski. An Albany native, was served in the United States Army. He was a retired United States postal worker.

In earlier years, Ed enjoyed traveling, golfing, bowling, and visiting casinos. He especially loved being with his family and lifelong friends.

He is a former communicant of St. Catherine of Siena Church.

He is survived by five children four daughters, Nancy  Van Wagenen and her husband, TJ of Albany, Theresa Bostwick and her husband, Dean of Alaska, Mary Wingrove of California and Diane Platt and her husband, Walt, of Syracuse; one son, Peter Zaremski and his wife, Kathie, of California; 12 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren; several nephews and a niece. Two brothers died before him.

A mass of Christian burial was celebrated Monday at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Albany. Arrangements were by Fredendall Funeral Home in  Altamont. Interment was in Our Lady of Angels Cemetery in Colonie.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Central New York, 990 7th North Street, Liverpool, NY 13088. 

Memorial Service — Ethel Rapp

A memorial service for Ethel Rapp will be held on Sunday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m. at the South Berne Congregational Christian Church in South Berne for friends, neighbors, and relatives.

Arrangements are by the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. For more information, call 861-6611.

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