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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 15, 2010

Frederick F. Hillenbrand Jr.

ALTAMONT — A mild-mannered man with a commitment to family and community service, Frederick F. Hillenbrand died on Tuesday, July 13, 2010. He was 79.

His service included decades of helping the Altamont Fair, and years of leading 4-H and Scout groups as well as a brief stint as Guilderland’s town historian.

In 2006, the son who shared his name was asked to put together an Eagle Scout Honor Guard for the funeral of President Gerald Ford. The younger Hillenbrand reflected then on his upbringing as a Scout, under his father’s tutelage. “It affects an awful lot,” he said. “It gives you a code, a set of core values.”

Mr. Hillenbrand was born on Dec. 21, 1930 in Brooklyn. He later moved to Staten Island, from where he rode the ferry into New York City to work. Another ferry rider named Lucille, a secretary who worked “for a big shot at the March of Dimes,” caught his eye.

“The ferry was the poor man’s cruise,” Mr. Hillenbrand once quipped. “You could ride it back and forth if the deck hands didn’t catch you.”

Chance ferry boat meetings led to romance. “One thing led to another,” Mr. Hillenbrand said, and he asked Lucille, “What are you doing Saturday night?” The couple went to an American Legion dance together.

Although they worked in different buildings in New York City, the buildings were near each other, and they worked on floors that were at the same level, so they could see each other’s office windows.

The couple married in 1952. They bought a home in 1956 and started a family. Then they decided to get out of the rat race, Mr. Hillenbrand said. “I was working seven days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, on Wall Street at E. F. Hutton,” he said. An accountant, Mr. Hillenbrand got a job in Albany as a comptroller for a plumbing supply house.

Later, he co-founded and was the charter president of the Financial Managers Association, a not-for-profit adult rehabilitation organization.

In 1963, the family, now with three sons, moved to Altamont. Both of the Hillenbrand parents were active in Scouts and 4-H. Mr. Hillenbrand was active in Cub Scouts Pack 51 and Boy Scouts Troop 60. He was a former 4-H leader and New York State Master Hunter Safety Instructor.

Both were also very active in the Altamont Fair Association. Mr. Hillenbrand’s service spanned 40 years; over the last 20 years, he had served as the treasurer and as a director. Mrs. Hillenbrand was in charge of the chapel at the fairgrounds for 20 years, before her death in 2001. That is where his funeral service will be held on Saturday.

Mr. Hillenbrand was always interested in history and, in 1998, he was appointed as the town historian for Guilderland. “I have done quite extensive reading,” he said at the time. “The Revolutionary War has always interested me, and how the West was won. My son and I were both part of the Knox Fife and Drum Corps.” The corps was formed in 1976 for the Bicentennial of the Revolution.

Hillenbrand also spent five years carefully restoring a 19th-Century cemetery that came with the property when he bought his house on Brandle Road. He had retired as chief fiscal officer of The Workshop, Inc. a rehabilitation facility, and thought the graveyard restoration would make a good retirement project.

As town historian, he wrote several articles for The Enterprise on local notables, using an endearing colloquial style. For instance, he began his piece on Lee Wallard, an Altamont native and well-known race car driver, by writing, “The other day, I was rummaging through our attic when I came cross a carton labeled, ‘Fred’s Junk.’ At the moment, ‘Fred’s Junk’ didn’t tell me anything except that my wife had labeled the carton.

“With my curiosity tweaked, I opened the carton. Inside, I found pieces of memorabilia, not junk, that I had been saving; it ranged from old beer taps to my programs from the Indianapolis 500 Race.”

There was no telling where his curiosity would lead.


He is survived by three sons: Frederick F. Hillenbrand III and his wife Elizabeth of Springfield, Va.: Wayne D. Hillenbrand and his wife, Paula, of Davidsonville, Md.: and Edward E. Hillenbrand and his wife, Kim, of Richmondville, N.Y. He is also survived by five grandchildren: Karl and his wife, Erin; Christopher; Eric; Gregory; and Brianna Hillenbrand.

He is survived, too, by a half sister, Jamie Cook, and her husband, John, and a half brother, John Hillenbrand and his wife, Augusta.

His wife of 49 years, Lucille E. Hillenbrand, died in 2001.

A funeral service will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 17, at the Altamont Fair Chapel, 129 Grand Street, Altamont, followed by an interment in Fairview Cemetery. Friends may call Friday from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the James E. West Fund, care of the Twin Rivers Council, 253 Washington Avenue Extension, Albany, NY 12205

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

Elwood Murrell Sr.

VOORHEESVILLE — Elwood “Woody” Murrell Sr. was a loving father who worked for the railroad and was fond of his pets. He “went out with a bang on July 4, 2010,” wrote his family in a tribute. He was 66.

Mr. Murrell was born in Pittsfield, Mass., to Edith and Arthur Murrell Sr., and grew up in Guilderland Center. He worked for CSX in Selkirk for 36 years, and retired in 2006.

He was active with the Voorheesville Rod and Gun Club for over 30 years, and served as an officer and a member of the board.

He is survived by his wife of 24 years, Linda (Shaver) Murrell; his children, Elwood “Skip” Murrell Jr., and his wife, Karen, Wanda Fronk, and her husband, Michael; his grandchildren, David Fronk, and his wife, Laura, Robert Morton, and Shawn and Amanda Johnson; his two sisters, Esther Leete and Lillian Smith; and his extended family and many friends.

His brother, Arthur Murrell, died before him.

Mr. Murrell also leaves behind his pets, whom he considered to be his “furry kids,” Jake and Lil Bit.

Family and friends gathered to celebrate Mr. Murrell’s life on July 9, at the Voorheesville Rod and Gun Club. Mrs. Murrell said over 100 people came to pay tribute to him.

Arrangements were made by the Newcomer Cannon Funeral Home of Colonie.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Animal Protective Foundation of Schenectady, 53 Maple Ave., Scotia, NY 12302, or to the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society, 3 Oakland Ave., Menands, NY 12204.

— Anne Hayden 

Velma Ethel Shufelt

KNOX — A caring and loving woman, Velma Ethel Shufelt had a passion for garage sales. But she always put her family first.

After a long illness, she died on July 3, 2010, with her family at her side. She was 87 years old.

Last week, after her funeral, her family and friends celebrated her life at the same place it began: The Highlands Restaurant.

“It was originally a farmhouse, and it was later converted into a restaurant,” said her son, Philip Gibbs. “She was born there, so it sort of completed the circle. She started there, and she ended there.”

Her life began in that farmhouse on Dec. 23, 1922, when she was born to the late Walter and Doris Schoonmaker Wood.

Mrs. Shufelt and her late husband, Merle, owned and ran the Highland Farms Family Restaurant for some time after it opened, but the family no longer owns the property.

She was later an office manager at Bob Howard Inc., Realtor.

When asked about her hobbies, Mrs. Shufelt’s son, Philip, did not hesitate: “Number one — going to garage sales,” he said.

“We just finished cleaning out her apartment,” he laughed. Mrs. Shufelt had been living at Avila, an independent retirement community, before she died. “You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that was in there, and some of it still had the stickers on from the garage sales.”

Mrs. Shufelt also loved to cook, her son said.

“Even up till she died, she insisted on having Thanksgiving at her place,” he said. “I couldn’t believe the number of cookbooks we just had to get rid of.”

And her reputation became apparent at her funeral last week, her son went on.

“People were offering their condolences, saying how she was such a gracious lady,” he said. “She just made a good impression on everybody she met.”


Mrs. Shufelt is survived by her son Philip Gibbs and his wife, Joyce, of Guilderland; her son Roger Gibbs and his wife, Joanne, of Brant Lake; her son Dennis Gibbs and his wife, Donna, of Delanson; and her daughter Donna Raplee and her husband, Scott, of Johnson City.

She is also survived by several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Her husband, Merle, died before her, as did her daughter, Kathy Gibbs, and her sister, Thelma Esther Wood.

A funeral service was held on July 8 at St. Madeleine Sophie Church in Guilderland, and interment followed at Knox Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Community Hospice of Albany, 445 New Karner Road, Albany, NY 12205. The family thanks the staff at The Hospice Inn, and at St. Peter’s Hospital, “for their kind compassionate care.”

Friends and family may also leave a message online at www.NewComerAlbany.com.

— Zach Simeone 

Ernest Frederick Stressel

GUILDERLAND — Ernest Frederick Stressel, a proud United States Navy veteran, died on July 3, 2010, at home surrounded by his loving family. He was 82.

Mr. Stressel was born in New York Mills, N.Y. on July 4, 1927, to the late Otto G. and Alicia M. (Healey) Stressel.

He was a member of the United States Navy for 13 years, and honorably served his country during Word War II and the Korean War, wrote his family in a tribute. He was proud of his military service, and regularly attended reunions of the USS Sibley and the USS Basilone, his family wrote.

He was also a member of the Tin Can Sailors and Sampson World War II Navy Veterans’ Association, and was a former member of the Clark Mills American Legion.

Mr. Stressel retired from the elevator construction and repair industry after 30 years. He was an avid golfer, and played in the Johnny Avers Golf League. He was a New York Mets fan. He had a love for music, and played in the Clark Mills Marching Band.

He was also a member of the Albany Curling Club, the Guilderland Elks, and the Lynnwood Reformed Church.

His family wrote that he will be remembered for his great sense of humor.

He is survived by his wife, Ann Merrill Stressel, whom he married on Jan. 16, 1954; his four daughters, Pamela Wells, and her husband, Joseph, Nancy Robinson, and her husband, Garry, Donna Tice, and her husband, Darrin, all of Guilderland, and Linda Stressel of Niskayuna; his grandchildren, Brendan and Eric Wells, Judd, Jenna, and Jillian Robinson, and Natalie Tice; his brother, Kenneth Stressel, of Florida.; many nieces and nephews; and close family friends, the Robert Artus family.

Interment services were held at Saratoga National Cemetery on July 8. A time and date for a celebration of his life will be announced. Arrangements were made by the Applebee Funeral Home, in Delmar.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Hospice of Schenectady, 1411 Union St., Schenectady, NY 12308. 

Ella Charlayne Turner

Ella Charlayne Turner, a loving mother, grandmother, and teacher, died on May 30, 2010, at her home in Virginia Beach, with her family by her side.

Mrs. Turner, daughter of Charles and Ella Armstrong of Altamont, was the assistant physical education teacher at Shelton Park Elementary School for 21 years.

“Her artistic talents were appreciated by teachers and students alike,” wrote her family in a tribute.

In addition to her parents, she is survived by her children, Jason, Aaron, Adam, and Sarah; her grandchildren, Rhys Turner-Lewis, Taylor Braley, and Aidan Turner, all of Virginia Beach; her brothers, Thompson Armstrong, and his wife, Candy, and Allen Armstrong, and his wife, Donna; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Maple Avenue in Altamont, on Sunday, July 25, at 2 p.m. Interment will follow at the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Guilderland.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, 1111 Stewart Ave., Bethpage, NY 11714.

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