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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 5, 2009

Joseph Calabro

GUILDERLAND — Joe’s Service Station fell silent last week.

The sentry of McCormack Corners, Joseph Calabro died on Jan. 24, 2009 at the age of 78. Calabro was a fixture not only because he poured himself into the business that he ran for over half a century, but because he was a loyal friend.

 “He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” said Carver Laraway, who began working at Calabro’s gas station nearly 40 years ago. “I continue to buy my fuel, to this day, from him,” said Laraway, who now owns a construction company.

Several of Calabro’s station attendants have begun their own businesses, said Dave Mohr. “Above and beyond anything, Joe was a businessman,” Mohr said, and he passed on his sense and knowledge of business to his young workers.

As a young man himself, “he used to sell vegetables out of a truck,” said Tom Evanchick. “He turned that truck into a service truck and bought Joe’s Service Station when he was 18.” Much of the produce that Calabro had sold in downtown Albany were tomatoes and carrots that he had bought from a wholesaler, but some of them came from his own plot behind his home, near the Watervliet Reservoir, said Evanchick, who worked at the gas station for 15 years.

Calabro never gave up tending his asparagus patch, “That was his sanctuary,” Mohr said. He was once offered $3 million for the property, but, Laraway remembered him asking, “Where would I grow my asparagus?”

“That was the simple part of him,” Laraway concluded.

“He was very generous,” Evanchick said. “If he knew you, he’d take care of you. He fed me three times a day.”

Calabro, though, was fond of asparagus and eggs, which, Evanchick said, “I couldn’t stand.”

Joe’s Service Station also offered a respite for Guilderland cops who were on duty, often on holidays, although he was sometimes at odds with the town, having been accused of charging unfairly high prices for towing. “For Easter, he’d cook a big ham,” said John Powell, which would feed the officers as they passed through.

In the fall, Joe’s Service Station would sometimes be the only Halloween stop for Stephanie McCauley’s two young kids, who would leave with bags full of candy. “There were years I would get them dressed up just to go there,” she said.

McCauley started getting gas at Joe’s because it was on her way to work, she said, but after she had children, Calabro filled part of the space left by the boys’ deceased grandfathers. “Joe had this amazing garden,” she said. He “showed my kids the power of using the earth.”

“He was a simple guy,” Laraway said. “Down to earth, believed in work.”

“He died with his boots on,” said Powell. “That was his life, working 18 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Joseph Calabro is survived by his brother, Santo Calabro of Kansas City, Mo.; his sister, Mary Roberts and her husband, Lambert, of Schenectady; his sister, Laura Reggio and her husband, Gino, of Schenectady.  He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

A funeral service was held at the DeMarco Stone Funeral Home Inc., Guilderland, on Feb. 2, 2009. Interment will follow in Schenectady Memorial Park.

Memorial donations may be made to the Guilderland Animal Shelter, 6363 French Mills Road, Guilderland, NY 12084.

Dorothy Z. Sand

ALTAMONT — An analytic and determined woman, Dorothy Z. Sand, who raised five children and held a variety of jobs, left little to chance.

She died on Friday, Jan. 30, 2009, at the age of 87.

Mrs. Sand had left three-by-five cards, instructing her children on what to do. “She told my sister Susan she was to call the doctor,” said her oldest child, Carl Sand. “She told my sister Lisa she was to remind her to call,” he said with a chuckle. “She was a very analytical woman. It was all on the cards.”

Mrs. Sand was raised on a farm in Schoharie, the daughter of the late Melvin and Irene Wideman Zimmer. In 1939, she graduated from Schoharie High School and went on to business college in Albany.

After graduating from college, she worked for a year for a Schenectady attorney before becoming a personnel representative for the General Electric Company.

She married her high school sweetheart, Carl L. Sand. They were married for 54 years until Mr. Sand died of a heart attack in 1995. Three years after the Sands married, Mrs. Sand left General Electric to care for her firstborn, Carl Jr.

“I was an only child for 11 years and five months,” said her son. Then, in a six-year period, the Sands had four more children in quick succession.

“They had moved from Altamont to Sharps Corners,” said her son. “Maybe it was the sulfur water,” he quipped of the cluster of births.

Mr. Sand described his mother as “pretty strict” and “very active on behalf of all of us.”

Mr. and Mrs. Sand owned and operated the Esso Sales and Service business at Sharps Corners for 15 years. After Mr. Sand had a heart attack, they sold the business. Mr. Sand then became the superintendent at Tawasentha Park in Guilderland. “We spent summers there,” said Carl Sand Jr.

“In the late fifties, they built the ranch house on the hill,” said their son. “I graduated from high school in 1961.”

Mrs. Sand was pregnant when her eldest graduated. “She was in deep labor pains but I didn’t know it. She was determined to see her son graduate from high school,” said Mr. Sand. “They left for the hospital right after graduation. Susan was born that night.”

Mrs. Sand went on to work in the state’s Research and Statistic Department, a job she held for 17 years until her retirement. Her son said she enjoyed her work.

She was also a gourmet cook. “Dessert treats were her forte,” said her son. “And she made good goulash. She was a good cook all the way around.”

She had many interests outside of work and family.

Mrs. Sand was a member of the Altamont Reformed Church for over 60 years, serving as both a deacon and an elder of the consistory. She was also the editor of the monthly church paper, “The Arc Lite.” And, she taught Sunday school for many, many years.

“She was often the first person in church on Sunday,” said her son, “and she made sure we all went to Sunday school.”

Mrs. Sand was also a past president of the American Legion Auxiliary 977, a member of the Elks Ladies Auxiliary of Guilderland Lodge 2480, a member of the Guilderland Area American Association of Retired Persons, past president of the Parent Teachers Association, and a member of the Altamont Seniors.

 Her hobby was oil painting and she painted scenic pictures for her family and friends.

She and her husband traveled widely during their retirement. They bought a winter home in Florida, from where they took many cruises, visiting Bermuda, the Bahamas, Aruba, Cartagena in Colombia, the Republic of Panama, and Cancun in Mexico.

The Sands also bought a motor home. They traversed the United States many times, frequently visiting their son Eric, who lived in California for 15 years. They traveled to all of the states but Alaska. Mr. Sand died before they could complete their goal of visiting all 50 states.

In her later years, Mrs. Sand enjoyed being a grandmother. “Susan’s four children live in Guilderland. She would go to all their sporting events. They were her wonder years,” said her son.

Mrs. Sand, who lived in Altamont’s Brandle Woods, was a devoted walker. She also belonged to the seniors’ bowling league at Town ‘N’ Country Lanes, and bowled a 211 at age 87.

She walked two miles every day from her home to the Altamont Post Office. “People said they could set their watches by her,” said her son. “She was very determined. She slipped on the ice one time and injured herself. She managed to get up and limp home. She washed her clothes and then called the ambulance to take her to get patched up.”

He reiterated, “She was very determined.”


Dorothy Z. Sand is survived by four children, Carl Sand Jr. and his wife, Janet, of Cobleskill; Lisa Pierce and her husband, Larry, of Schoharie; Peter Sand and his wife, Karen, of Saratoga Springs; and Susan Weinberg and her husband, Daniel of Guilderland.

She is also survived by 11 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

Her husband, Carl Sand Sr., died before her as did her son Eric Sand who had a fatal heart attack on Oct. 11, 2004 at age 45. Her brother, Martin Zimmer, also died before her.

A funeral was held on Tuesday, Feb. 3, at the Altamont Reformed Church followed by an interment in Memory’s Garden in Colonie, where Mrs. Sand was buried between her husband and her son.

Arrangements were by Fredendall Funeral Home of Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Altamont Reformed Church Benevolence Fund, Post Office Box 671, Altamont, NY 12009.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

Peter W. Van Zetten

NEW SCOTLAND — Peter Van Zetten, a farmer who, as highway superintendent, paved the roads in town, died on Feb. 2, 2009 at his home. He was 83.

Born in EckEnWiel, Holland, Mr. Van Zetten was the son of the late Johannes and Cornelia Vissers Van Zetten, who moved their family to upstate New York when Mr. Van Zetten was about 5 years old, said his wife, Barbara Van Zetten. “They came over here to start a new life,” she said.

Johannes Van Zetten had planned on working to build the railroads, but got a job instead on the McBride farm, which ushered his sons into dairy farming.

As a young man, Mr. Van Zetten, with his brother, Jake, bought the former Youmans farm, where they raised Holsteins. He always fixed his own farm machinery, Mrs. Van Zetten says, and learned a great deal about mechanics.

Later, Mr. Van Zetten worked for 15 years as the town of New Scotland’s highway superintendent.

“He was so proud that he got the roads to be paved,” Mrs. Van Zetten said of her husband’s achievement, since many of the roads in town had been dirt. He was a hard worker, she said, and once, while plowing snow on Christmas, he rolled the plow into a ditch. He and his passenger had breakfast while they waited for the tow truck, she said.

“I haven’t heard of anyone who didn’t like him,” Mrs. Van Zetten concluded.

Mr. Van Zetten was a member of the Future Farmers of America, the Albany County Farm Bureau, the New Scotland Presbyterian Church, and the former New Salem Reformed Church. He was also a founding member of the New Salem Fire Department, a member of the New Scotland Republican Committee, and he served on the town board and the planning board in New Scotland.

“He always hung around the Republicans,” Mrs. Van Zetten said. “That’s how we first got together.”

She was renting an apartment on his farm and he gave her a ticket to the Republicans’ clambake, she said.

They were married when he was in his late 40s and, Mrs. Van Zetten said, “He’s been good to my kids. [He] was a good father.”

Mr. Van Zetten was “easy going,” said his wife. He was “generous, always helping people out when he could.”


Mr. Van Zetten is survived by his wife, Barbara Poole Sutton Van Zetten, and by his brother, Jacobus Van Zetten and his wife, Millicent. He is also survived by his stepchildren, Terry Sutton and his wife, Lynn, and Donna Sutton and her husband, Frank Lawyer, as well as by his grandchildren, Carl Burnham and his wife, Eva, Peter and Linda Ploof, and Devin and Paige Sutton, and his great-grandchild, Timothy Burnham. He is also survived by his nephew, John Van Zetten and his wife, Karen, and by his niece, Joanne Jacob and her husband, John.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the New Scotland Presbyterian Church, at 2010 New Scotland Rd., Slingerlands. Calling hours will be from 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Reilly & Son Funeral Home, 9 Voorheesville Ave., Voorheesville.

Memorial contributions may be made to the New Scotland Presbyterian Church, 2010 New Scotland Rd., Slingerlands, NY 12159, or to the New Salem Fire Department, 694 New Salem Rd., Voorheesville, NY 12186.

Don F. Whalen

GUILDERLAND — A gentle man, Don F. Whalen shared his lifelong love of sailing with his family.

“He started sailing as a kid on Oneida Lake,” said his son Dean E. Whalen of Altamont. “He actually sailed a Lightning when he was 18; he crewed for a paraplegic.”

Then, as middle-aged man with two sons, Mr. Whalen had major surgery in the 1970s, said Dean Whalen. “Mom and Dad came out of that wanting to spend time together as a family,” said Mr. Whalen. So they joined the Mayfield Yacht Club, a family tradition that has lasted into the next generation.

In 1981, Mr. Whalen became commodore of the club on the southern end of the Great Sacandaga Lake.

“It’s a working club,” said his son, “like a camp for 125 families. We put the docks in in the spring and take them out in the fall.”

Mr. Whalen died on Feb. 2, 2009 at the Community Hospice of Albany Inn at St. Peter’s with his loving family by his side. He was 76.

Born in Syracuse to Justine and Edward Whalen on Aug. 12, 1932, Mr. Whalen spent his childhood in Oneida, N.Y. He graduated from Oneida High School in 1950 and came to Albany to work as a dispatcher for the Atlantic Refinery. He later worked for Montgomery Ward before getting a job with the state. He worked his way up to become the director of Laundry Services for the New York State Office of General Services, retiring in 1994.

Mr. Whalen met his wife, Loretta Beeler, on a summer outing with an Albany ski club, said their son. The marriage lasted 52 years, ending only with his death.

In 1959, the young couple purchased a 19th-Century home in the hamlet of New Salem for $12,500, their son said. “I was born a week after,” he said. “They cleaned out a room and put me in it.”

Mr. Whalen renovated the rest of the house, room by room “He took it all the way down to the studs,” said his son.

The house was a showplace when Mrs. Whalen began collecting miniatures. Mr. Whalen worked in his woodshop to build a dollhouse-size exact replica of their restored home, which housed the miniatures and was greatly admired by neighborhood children.

“He was a smart guy and an incredibly gentle man,” said his son. “The only time I ever remember him raising his hand to me — I was 12 or 13 and probably deserved it — the dog, my dog, came between the two of us and growled.”

Mr. Whalen concluded of his father, “He was a gentle guy who led by his own example.”


Don F. Whalen is survived by his wife of 52 years, Loretta Beeler Whalen; his loving children, Dean E. Whalen and his wife, Colleen, of Altamont and Andrew L. Whalen and his wife, Nancy, of Saratoga Springs; his four much loved grandchildren, Justine M. Whalen and Kelsey L. Whalen of Saratoga Springs, and Christopher and Elizabeth Whalen of Altamont; his sister, Justine Mulford of Canastota; and several nieces and nephews.

His brothers — Dr. Edward Whalen who had lived in Manlius and Vern Whalen, Esq., who had lived in Oneida — died before him.

Relatives and friends are invited to call at the Reilly & Son Funeral Home at 1200 Central Ave. in Colonie today, Feb. 5, from 4 to 7 p.m. A memorial service will be held Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at the funeral home.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Hospice of Albany Inn at St. Peter’s, 315 South Manning Blvd., Albany, NY 12208, or to the Alzheimer’s Association, 85 Watervliet Ave., Albany, NY 12206.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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