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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 16, 2010

Matthias H. Klapp

GUILDERLAND — A World War II veteran with a passion for radio, Matthias H. Klapp lived his life as an example to others.

He died on Thursday, Dec. 9, in Venice, Fla., where he spent the winters, with his loving wife and his two children at his side. He was 90.

Born in Albany on June 3, 1920, he was one of two children of the late Matthias and Edna Lotz Klapp. His mother was a homemaker and his father ran a garage service station in Albany. Matthias Klapp was known as Matt to his family and friends. He and his brother, Fredrick, worked in their father’s service station as boys.

When World War II started, both of them enlisted, said Ken Klapp, Matthias Klapp’s son.

Mr. Klapp was a ham radio operator since his teenage years. “That was his passion. He literally could talk to people all over the world from his home. Even the last week of his life, he was making calls,” said his son. The call letters that he had for more than 65 years were W2EQV.

During the war, Mr. Klapp worked in communications because of his radio background, said his son. As a soldier in the United States Army, he served in the North African and Italian campaigns.

After the war, he went to work for the New York Telephone Company. He started as a lineman and worked his way up to become an engineer; he retired after 40 years with the company, his son said.

Mr. Klapp was active in the Guilderland community where he lived and was a member of the American Legion, Guilderland Elks, Fraternal Order of Masons, and Telephone Pioneers. He was also a member of the Albany Amateur Radio Club and the Tamiami Amateur Radio Club, in Florida, of which he was president in 2006-07.

Mr. Klapp was a religious man. He regularly attended the inner city church in Albany where he had gone as a youth; he was the oldest member of the Evangelical Protestant Church.

Always up for an adventure, Mr. Klapp took up roller-skating at the age of 70. While skating, he met his wife, Rosemary Klapp. “He skated into his 80s. They joined skating clubs both here and in Florida, where they spent the winter. She’s younger and she still skates,” said his son.

He also said, “He was not a stereotypical 90-year-old. If you saw him and his energy levels, you’d think he was 75.”

In his youth, Mr. Klapp was a fan of the Cleveland Browns, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Boston Celtics. He rooted for those three teams his entire life, watching their games on television.

“He was an engineer and very well organized,” said his son. “He ironed out every detail of his funeral long before he passed.”

Describing what Mr. Klapp was like as a father, his son referred to a quotation from the philosopher and physician Albert Schweitzer: “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

“That was my father,” said Kenneth Klapp. “He just set an example for everybody. He didn’t have long talks with people or give words of wisdom. He lived it and, from his example, you learned.”

Detailing some of the things that he and his sister, Patricia, had learned from their father, Mr. Klapp went on, “He was very well organized and into details. That’s one of the qualities I got from him. He was dedicated to education and religion. He showed strength through adversity. My sister and I have picked that up.”

Mr. Klapp concluded of his father, “He had many, many friends….He was just well loved by everybody.”


Matthias H. Klapp is survived by his wife of 18 years, Rosemary Klapp, and by two children, Patricia Atwell and her husband, Peter, and Kenneth Klapp and his wife, Rosemarie.

He is also survived by his four grandchildren, Katie and Josh Atwell, and Kyle and Erik Klapp as well as his two nephews, Keith Klapp and his wife, Sue, and Paul Klapp and his wife, Gwen.

His first wife, Thelma R. Klapp, and his second wife, Sylvia B. Klapp, died before him as did his brother, Fredrick Klapp.

His funeral was held on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at the Newcomer-Cannon Funeral Home. To leave a special message for the family online, visit www.NewcomerAlbany.com.

Memorial contributions may be made to Special Olympics, Attention: Donations, 504 Balltown Rd., Schenectady, NY 12304 or to Tidewell Hospice, Philanthropy Department, 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34238.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer 

Robert S. La Crosse

ALTAMONT — After a 20-year career in the Navy, including two tours in Vietnam, Robert S. La Crosse kept on helping veterans.

“He was a loving, supportive, generous person who never asked for anything in return,” said his wife of 14 years, Jean La Crosse.

 Mr. La Crosse died on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010, at St. Peter’s Hospice Inn. He was 67.

Born on March 10, 1943 in Rutland, Vermont, he was the son of the late Moses and Winnie La Crosse.

A good-hearted man with an easy sense of humor, Mr. La Crosse enjoyed his family, said his wife. The couple met at the Punkintown Fair in New Salem, an annual fund-raiser put on by the local fire department.

His Navy career gave Mr. La Crosse a keen sense of geography, said his wife. He retired as a Petty Officer First Class. “He gained an absolutely wonderful knowledge of the world and retained that,” she said. “He was a crackerjack at world affairs and the history of countries.”

Like so many who served in Vietnam during the war, his memories of those two tours were difficult, said Mrs. La Crosse. “He worked with underwater demolition,” she said, a precursor of the Navy SEALs.

“It was a tough war,” said Mrs. La Crosse. “He had a lot of problems even now of remembrance.” The recent war in Iraq and the current war in Afghanistan, she said, “pulled it all back in.”

Mr. La Crosse continued to serve as a volunteer at the Stratton Veterans Affairs Hospital. “He would give out packets of information for soldiers on where to get help, physically and emotionally,” said Mrs. La Crosse.

 Mr. La Crosse was also a life member of the Disabled American Veterans.

He was “very interested in the environment,” said Mrs. La Crosse and he supported organizations like the Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation.

In recent retirement years, Mr. La Crosse worked at French’s Hollow Fairways. “He got to like golf quite a bit,” said Mrs. La Crosse. “And he always enjoyed fishing.”

She went on, “Mostly, he enjoyed family activities…He took to my whole extended family and treated them very well. They love him dearly.”

Mr. La Crosse recalled being overseas when President John F. Kennedy was shot and he was a big supporter of Jimmy Carter, said his wife.

Two years ago, after he fell while cleaning gutters, breaking his rib and lower back, Mr. La Crosse went to the hospital where a mark was discovered on his lung, said his wife. He was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, for which there is no cure. His disease was difficult for him, she said, because he was used to giving rather than receiving help.

Mr. La Crosse was not a smoker, his wife said, and it was thought that the disease was due to asbestos inhalation from his Navy work. “He had very, very good support from the Stratton VA,” she said.

Mr. La Crosse always maintained his sense of humor. One of the things his family enjoyed teasing him about was a fishing trip gone awry.

“He was going to go deep-sea fishing with my son in Florida a few years ago,” said Mrs. La Crosse. When her son worried about Mr. La Crosse enduring the rough waters, he said, “I’ve seen waters crash over the deck in the South China Sea.”

But then, Mrs. La Crosse went on, with a chuckle, “He got sick and had to sit out the entire trip. We never let him live that down.”

She concluded of her husband, “He was always in a positive mood and extremely supportive of his family.”


In addition to his wife, Jean La Crosse of Altamont, Robert S. La Crosse is survived by a son, Matthew La Cross and his wife, Carrie; two daughters, Rebecca L. Bergevin and Carol Lanfear, and their mother, Linda La Cross; and grandchildren Louis and Savannah Bergevin — all of Rutland, Vt.

He is also survived by his sister, Jeanne Rizzo, of Loudonville; his brother, William La Cross of West Rutland, Vt.; and his brother-in-law, Wayne Benware, of Rutland, Vt. His sister, Rosalie Benware, died before him.

He is survived, too, by his stepdaughter, Susan La Cross.

And, he is survived by his stepchildren John VanSyckle IV and his wife, Kathy, of Clifton Park; Laura Reynolds and her husband, Todd, of Rensselaer; and Daniel Van Syckle and his wife, Sharon, of Florida.

He his also survived by his step-grandchildren, Vanessa Denisulk and her husband, Steve, of Ravena; Timothy Gilligan of Troy, Shawn Gilligan and his wife, Melissa, of Cohoes; and Desiree and Kyle Van Syckle of Clifton Park; and Matthew Vicalvi of Schenectady.

He is survived, too, by his step-great-grandchildren, Kyleigh, Ryan, and Izabella Gilligan of Cohoes.

And, he is survived by his nieces and nephews, Michael La Cross; Barbara La Cross; Deborah Clogston; Melinda Bassett and her husband, Ben; Tina and Kevin Benware — all of Rutland Vt.; and several great-nieces and great-nephews.

A funeral service will be held today, Dec. 9, at 11 a.m. at the Altamont Reformed Church at 129 Lincoln Ave. in Altamont followed by an interment at Saratoga National Cemetery. Friends may call prior to the service at the church from 10 to 11 a.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Disabled American Veterans, Post Office Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301 Attention: Gift Processing.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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