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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 24, 2009

Marion Amsler-Burns

EAST BERNE — Marion Amsler-Burns, fondly called “Omi” by her grandchildren, died on Dec. 17, 2009. She was 82 years old.

She was a nine-year resident of East Berne. She died peacefully at St. Peter’s Hospice in Albany, after a valiant battle with cancer. Her family was by her side.

Ms. Amsler-Burns was born on March 2, 1927 in Spandau, Germany to Elizabeth Anna Schell and Karl Leuchs. She had one brother, Karl Heinz, who died in 2004. She grew up in Berlin, Germany during World War II. She told many stories of her experiences during the war to her children and grandchildren.

She eventually became a licensed esthetician but her greatest love was singing. She performed at the Munich Opera House and continued singing throughout her life.

In 1951, she married Waldemar Sahm. They had two daughters, Regina and Jutta. After their marriage ended, she began a new life and immigrated to the United States with her daughters.

In 1965 she married Chester T. Amsler and also became stepmother to his stepson Claus. “Marion embraced her new life in America and settled into a happy routine of homemaking,” her family wrote in a tribute. “Marion and Chester had a daughter, Carrie. Chester died after a long illness in 1988.

“Marion found solace in her children and grandchildren and took up gardening which she grew to love. She was well known for her green thumb and could make anything grow.”

She married Victor L. Burns in 1993.” Victor also loved music and played many instruments,” her family wrote. “Many a Sunday afternoon was spent singing and playing the violin.” He passed away in 2000 after a brief illness.

“Marion loved spending time with her grandchildren, her family wrote. “She especially loved to cook the fresh fish that her grandsons often brought back from their fishing excursions. She spent many hours telling her grand-daughters old German fairytales.”

Ms. Amsler-Burns was a member of the South Berne Congregational Christian Church. She was also a member of the Hilltown Gospel Singers, the Foxenkill Grange, the South Berne Seniors, and the Edelweiss German Club.

“Marion’s love of singing, adventurous spirit, and kind hospitality will be missed by many,” her family wrote. “We are grateful for her long and rich life and for the lessons she taught us.”

She is survived by her three daughters, Regina Cole of Delanson, Jutta (Yuly) Nosenzo of Litchfield, Conn. and her husband, Donald, and Carrie Becker of East Berne. She is also survived by her stepson, Claus Geiger Sr. of Waterford, N.Y., seven grandchildren, Claus Geiger Jr., Jaan Geiger, Tyler Cole, Edward Boruta, Jonathan Boruta, Lacey Becker and Eden Becker; and two great-grandchildren, Tori and Devin; and several cousins in Germany.

A funeral was held on Monday, Dec. 21, 2009, at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont with interment at the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Guilderland.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Hospice Foundation, 295 Valley View Blvd., Rensselaer, NY 12144. 

Mary Ellen Donato

ALTAMONT — Mary Ellen Eck Donato, a woman with a big heart, a large family, and many friends, died on Dec. 17, 2009, at St. Peter’s Hospital. She was 84.

Ms. Donato ran a successful antiques and collectibles business for many years in Altamont, but her greatest joy was visiting family and friends, wrote her family in a tribute.

“She took pleasure in cooking, baking, playing bingo, and playing cards with Clare, Lisa, and Michelle,” her family wrote. She also enjoyed doing puzzles with Kay, and going to Altamont Seniors.

“She delighted in the special dinners every Sunday,” her family wrote. They describe her husband, the late Louis Donato, as “the love and light of her life.”

In the last few years, Ms. Donato’s granddaughter Hailee was her special caretaker, and helped her with many things, including the computer.

Ms. Donato is survived by her sister, Clare Wright; her family, Louis Donato, and his wife, Louise, William Donato, and his wife, Rita, Joseph Donato, and his wife, Carol, Susan-Angel Donato, and her husband, Aldas Ridgley III, John Donato, and his wife, Joyce, Peter Donato, and his wife, Barbara, Patrick Donato, Gerald Donato, and his wife, Karen, Wayne Donato, and his wife, Janet.

She is also survived by her daughters-in-law, Carol and Susan; and, her 25 grandchildren, Karen, and her husband, Gregory, Mary Ellen, and her husband, Luis, Melissa, and her husband, Ron, Nick, Marc, and his wife, Kim, Becky, and her husband, Gary, Rhonda, and her husband, Dave, Apryl, Joe, Lacey, and her husband, LA, Morocco, Messiah, and his wife, Monica, Charisma, Galaxy, Mercedes, Israel, Josh, Tori, Zoe, Samuel, Morgan, Kelsey, Evan, Rosie, and her husband, Andre, and Hailee.

She is also survived by her great-grandchildren, Kaylee, Blaze, Lily, LeeAnn, Steven, Caroline, Valerie, Stephanie, Isabella, Eliza Jane, Brad, Riley, Colin, James, Messiah, Myah, and Zion; her great-great-grandchildren, Tyler and Cassidy; and, many cousins, nephews, and nieces.

Her parents, Emmanuel and Maude Eck, died before her, as did her brothers Paul, Emmanuel, and Walter Eck, her sister, Gertrude Gavel, her husband, Louis, her sons Dominick and Thomas Donato, and Joe Cuevas, her chosen son.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Tuesday, Dec. 22, at St. Lucy’s Church in Altamont, followed by interment in the Fairview Cemetery. Arrangements were by Fredendall Funeral Home of Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Altamont Rescue Squad, Post Office Box 56, Altamont, NY 12009.

The Donato family would like to express thanks to the staff at 5 Brady-Farrell at St. Peter’s Hospital. 

Katherine Ebbert

GUILDERLAND — Katherine Dratz Mahne Ebbert, a wife and mother, formerly of Phenix, Va. died at the Guilderland Center Nursing Home on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009. She was 92.

She was a charter member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Oak Hill, N.Y.

Her husband, Ewald Dohle Ebbert, died before her, as did her brothers Henry M. Dratz, M.D. and Herbert J. Dratz.

She is survived by her children, Katharine Lien, Dorothy Hynes, and John A. Mahne; her brothers Arthur F. Dratz, Ph.D, and Martin L. Dratz; her grandchildren Audrey Hynes Sielaff, Deirdre Hynes Petersen, Christopher Hynes, Tara Hynes Miller, Bruce T. Mahne, Brian Mahne, and Susan Mahne Wallace; and her 10 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, Dec. 29, at 10 a.m. in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Oak Hill, N.Y.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Post Office Box 66, Oak Hill, NY 12460.

Arrangements are by A. J. Cunningham Funeral Homes, Inc., in Greenville. Mourners may light a candle at www.ajcunninghamfh.com

Frederick B. Enides

ALTAMONT — Frederick B. Enides Jr., who owned Fire Protection Service, died unexpectedly on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009, at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. He was 67.

He was born on Aug. 30, 1942 in Albany, the son of Florence and the late Frederick Enides Sr. He was a 1960 graduate of Albany High School.

He served his apprenticeship in Local 669 (Sprinkler Fitters Union) where he worked until 1971. He then owned and operated Fire Protection Service in Altamont.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years Sandra Enides; four children, Scott F. Enides and his wife, Deidre, Jill C. Enides, Steven F. Enides and his wife, Kara, and Shawn and spouse, Colby Enides; four grandchildren Shane F., Sawyer F., Jack J., and Daniel P.

His brother, Robert A. Enides, died before him.

A funeral service was held on Wednesday Dec. 23, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Albany.

Arrangements were made by Fredendall Funeral Home of Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Altamont Rescue Squad, 767 Route 146 Altamont, NY 12009; the American Heart Association, 440 New Karner Rd., Albany NY 12205 or the Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 113 Holland Avenue Albany, NY 12208. 

Michael B. Grinmanis

ALTAMONT — Michael B. Grinmanis, an adventurous, caring, and humorous young man, died on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009. He was 19.

Even Michael’s entrance into the world — on Jan. 11, 1990 — was adventurous, according to his father. Mr. Grinmanis said Michael wouldn’t wait for his parents to get to the hospital, and was born in the front seat of a Camaro, in Birmingham, Aa. Michael was raised in the south, and moved to Altamont with his family in 2000.

Michael had many friends in Altamont, with whom he loved spending time, Mr. Grinmanis said. His son always had the ability to console people, and his friends often sought him out when they were in need, Mr. Grinmanis said.

“Some of his friends were telling me that they were trying to convince Michael to become a counselor,” Mr. Grinmanis said. “He was the type of boy that would be first in line if someone needed help.” Those friends are now offering comfort to the Grinmanis family after a car crash early Sunday took Michael’s life.

Michael was also known for his ability to make people laugh; his father said the family’s nickname for him was “funny boy,” and that he had a great sense of humor.

Michael loved the outdoors and had a great sense of adventure, said Mr. Grinmanis. He enjoyed going four-wheeling in his Jeep. He also liked snowboarding, playing paintball, hunting, fishing, and swimming.

Michael had been working with his father in the family’s real-estate business, purchasing houses, fixing them up, and then selling them. It was work Michael enjoyed, Mr. Grinmanis said, and he said he loved working with his son, as well.

“He was an all-around caring person, and he always had a smile on his face,” his father said.


Michael B. Grinmanis is survived by his parents, Michael and Maxine Grinmanis; his sister, Stephanie Grinmanis; his grandfather, Elmer Grinmanis, and his wife, Karen; his uncles, Raymond Grinmanis, and his wife, Karen, Danny Grinmanis, and Michael Maxwell; his aunts, Lisa Grinmanis, Laura Grinmanis, Milly Maxwell, and Debra Camp, and her husband, Mark; and, several cousins.

His grandparents, Margaret Packard Grinmanis, and Carol and Leland Maxwell, died before him, as did his uncle, Leland Maxwell Jr., and his aunt, Carolann Mickle.

A funeral service was held on Tuesday at the Fredendall Funeral Home, in Altamont.

— Anne Hayden

Viola R. Sandberg

GUILDERLAND — A homemaker, Viola R. Sandberg treated everyone like family.

“She was very pretty growing up — inside as well as outside,” said her son, Robert Sandberg Jr. “Everybody I talk to says she was one of the dearest, kindest people they’ve ever met. She was everyone’s sweetheart.”

Mrs. Sandberg died on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 85.

Born in Cementon, N.Y., Mrs. Sandberg was the daughter of the late Frederick and Anna Hammer. Friends and family called her Vi.

“Her father passed away when she was 12…They were really Christian and family oriented,” said her son. Mrs. Sandberg grew up in Albany and was a graduate of Albany High School.

Mrs. Sandberg was especially close to her sister, Marion. They were just a year apart and graduated together. “They were inseparable,” said Mr. Sandberg. “They were in each other’s weddings, and were like two peas in a pod.” Their brother, Frederick, was a little younger; he hosted family events and lived with their mother until her death, said Mr. Sandberg.

Mrs. Sandberg passed on the Christian values she had been raised with to her own family. She was married to Robert A. Sandberg Sr. for 51 years, until his death in 1999.

The Sandbergs moved to Guilderland in the 1950s. They had lived in a split ranch house where Exit 25 of the Thruway was being built and moved their house to Carman Road. Their son recently came across the receipts for the move, which included $1,000 for the Guilderland lot.

Mr. Sandberg Sr. went on to work for the Thruway Authority.

Although Mrs. Sandberg worked outside her home as a clerk at the Four Seasons store in Rotterdam and later in the drapery department for Sears in Colonie Center, her life centered around her home, her neighbors, and her church.

“I am an only child,” said Mr. Sandberg. “My mother told me she wanted more but was only graced with one….She helped me not to be a brat. I wasn’t spoiled,” he said.

Mr. Sandberg now works managing the Coldwell Banker Prime Properties office in Guilderland. “She passed on a lot of her skills,” he said. “I see the world through rosy-colored glasses and try not to say negative things about people. I like to help people if I can. My mother didn’t like conflict.”

Mrs. Sandberg was a den mother during her son’s Cub Scout years, and she was also a Red Cross volunteer.

A kindly woman, Mrs. Sandberg never used the Lord’s name in vain. “When she would swear, it was, ‘Oh, beans!’” said her son.

She joined the Lynnwood Reformed Church in 1962 and was active in the food pantry there and in arranging flowers for the church.

A lengthy and heartfelt 1994 tribute to Mrs. Sandberg from the church calls her “everyone’s sweetheart,” and says: “Her pockets are deep, her smile is warm, her love of people is as big as the whole world.”

The flowers she arranged for the church were often from her own garden, or made from bouquets she picked by the side of the road.

“She made a career of caring,” said her son. “She always put others first.”

The family had two cars, which her son described as an unusual luxury in that era. Mrs. Sandberg made good use of hers. “If anybody needed to go to the doctor, or pick up a prescription, or go to the grocery store, she would take them,” said her son. “She brought many, many people to Greulich’s Market….She would bring elderly people their newspapers, right to their doors.”

As a grandmother, Mrs. Sandberg never forgot a birthday, and remembered many other special days, like the first days of school, her son said. “Hallmark must be hurting right now,” he quipped.

Even after Mrs. Sandberg moved to the Kingsway Manor Assisted Living facility, and was using a walker to get around, she would help others. “She was 80, and she’d be in the wing with the 90-year-olds, assisting them,” said Mr. Sandberg. “Everyone hugged her and said, ‘Your mom’s such a sweetheart.’”

He concluded, “She was an angel here on earth. Now she’s up there, doing the same thing.”


Viola R. Sandberg is survived by her son, Robert Sandberg Jr., and his wife, Lea, of Guilderland; by her grandchildren Robert Sandberg III of Albany, Vanessa Rose Sandberg of New York City, and Alisa Rose Sandberg of Guilderland; and by several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Her husband, Robert A. Sandberg Sr., died in 1999. Her brother, Frederick B. Hammer, and her sister, Marion Russell, both died before her.

A funeral was held on Dec. 12, followed by burial in Evergreen Memorial Park in Colonie. Arrangements were by Guilderland’s DeMarco-Stone Funeral Home.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Capital District Chapter, 85 Watervliet Ave., Albany, NY 12206-2083.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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