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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 2, 2010

Maryellen Tucker Hamilton

BERNE — Called “a force of nature” by her friend, Maryellen Hamilton had a fierce love for her family, a passion for her medical work, and a deep commitment to her Hilltown community.

She died peacefully, surrounded by her family, on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010, after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 55.

“She will be missed dearly for her larger-than-life personality, leadership, integrity, intelligence, strength, and dedication to her family, friends, and coworkers,” her family wrote in a tribute.

Born in Albany on Sept. 5, 1955, she was the oldest of eight children and grew up in Voorheesville, attending St. Madeleine Sophie Elementary School and Voorheesville Central School.

“She had six younger brothers and a younger sister,” said her daughter, Ellen Eden. “They called her the trail boss. Even when everybody grew up, they all still looked up to her and called her for advice.”

Because of the large spread in age, Mrs. Hamilton was like a mother to her younger siblings, Mrs. Eden said.

After her family moved to Bovina, N.Y. in 1970, and later to Andes, N.Y., she graduated a year early in 1972 from Delaware Academy, in Delhi, N.Y. She then attended the State University of New York College of Technology at Delhi and Maria College School of Nursing.

Mrs. Hamilton always kept in touch with her many good friends from Voorheesville, her daughter said. One of her schoolmates was James Hamilton, whom she hadn’t known well at Voorheesville. But her cousin Tony Donato was a good friend of Mr. Hamilton and re-introduced them. “He was killed a few years after,” said Mrs. Eden, “and they always spoke of him giving them that gift.”

The couple began dating in 1974 and they were married Aug. 28, 1976 in Andes, N.Y. next to a pond at the home of Mrs. Hamilton’s parents. The groom wore a shirt made by his bride. Mrs. Hamilton also sewed her own wedding gown. “It was a white muslin, off-the-shoulder dress,” said Mrs. Eden. “They were like hippies.”

The Hamiltons settled in Voorheesville, moving to Berne in 1983 after their third daughter was born. Mrs. Hamilton was an excellent cook who made everything from scratch, favoring Italian cuisine, a reflection of her mother’s heritage. Spaghetti sauce, for example, she canned herself from tomatoes she grew in her garden. “I didn’t even know what SpaghettiOs were until I went to a friend’s house in elementary school,” said her daughter.

Mrs. Hamilton would often taste something she liked and come up with her own recipe for it. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, it came out well,” said her daughter.

Mrs. Hamilton also loved to knit and sew, making dresses for her daughters as well as extravagant Halloween costumes. Last year, she made a Dracula costume for her 18-month-old grandson. “She would just whip up something for a special occasion,” said Mrs. Eden.

She made costumes for the Hilltowns Players, too. She also contributed to the players by producing, acting, and serving in many officer positions. She helped, too, with the productions at Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School, where her children attended school.

She also volunteered her time and talents to The Fox Creek 5K Road Race, which she worked on with her husband; she was a member of St. Bernadette’s Roman Catholic Church and the Town of Berne’s Democratic Committee and president of The Berne Democrats Social Club.

She also made time for other interests like skiing, hiking, biking, camping, and reading.

While dedicated to her home and community, Mrs. Hamilton was also passionate about her work. “She would wake up at five o’clock every morning,” said her daughter. “She’d work for 40 or 60 hours a week, and, somehow, she always had time for other things. She was very organized. She would rush through and get everything done.”

She started her career in 1970 at Child’s Hospital, her daughter said, adding, “She loved what she did and took great pride in making sure it was done well. She was very meticulous.”

After Child’s, she worked for Dr. Orkan Stasior, Kansas Eye Surgery Associates, and, most recently, Albany Regional Eye Surgery Center, where she was the director of Refractive Surgery.

“Ophthalmologists would say that, sometimes, she would tell them what to do in surgery,” said her daughter. “She always wanted to go back to school.”

 And she did, late in her life. Mrs. Hamilton graduated as valedictorian from Ellis Hospital School of Nursing in 2009, receiving awards for the highest grade-point average and for top surgical skills. Until she became ill, she was pursuing a bachelor of science degree in nursing at the State University of New York College of Technology.

Her family was shocked with her cancer diagnosis in July, her daughter said. “It was completely unexpected. She always took such good care of herself and was so health conscious,” she said.

Mrs. Eden summed up her mother’s personality this way: “She had great, positive energy. She always encouraged us to continue with what we were doing.” In a similar vein, her family wrote in its tribute, “She was devoted to her husband and daughters, supporting all their endeavors with the same fierce love that she later showed her grandson.”

“She had great perseverance and strength,” her daughter concluded. “She was unstoppable….Her friend Peggy Smith called her a force of nature. Anytime she wanted to get something done, she did.”


Maryellen Tucker Hamilton is survived by her loving husband of 34 years, James Hamilton, of Berne; daughters Ellen Eden and her husband, Robert, of Glenmont, Sara Eschenroeder and her husband, Ryan, of Lake Hopatcong, N.J., and Julianne Hamilton of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and her beloved grandson, Benjamin Eden of Glenmont.

She is also survived by her mother, Mary Tucker, of Andes, N.Y.; her brothers, Stephen Tucker and his wife, Alice, of Bloomville, N.Y., Howard J. Tucker, of Bridgton, Maine, Richard Tucker, of Andes, N.Y., Allen Tucker and his fiancée, Krista Scott, of Atlanta, Ga., and Edward Tucker and his wife, Lyna, of Newport News, Va.; her sister, Kathleen Tucker Smith of Delhi, N.Y., and her sisters-in-law Suzanne Tucker and Sharon Tucker, as well as a large extended family.

Her father, Howard F. Tucker, died before her as did her brother, Daniel Tucker.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010, at 10 a.m. at St. Lucy’s/St. Bernadette’s Roman Catholic Church at 109 Grand Street in Altamont. Friends may call on Friday, Dec. 3, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home at 199 Main St. in Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made in her name to St. Peter’s Hospital Foundation, 319 South Manning Blvd., Albany, NY 12208.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

Peggy Wise Jensen

Peggy Wise Jensen, a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and sister, valued her family above all and built their house with her own hands.

She died on Friday, Nov. 26, 2010, at Our Lady of Mercy Life Center. She was 91.

She was born Dec. 20, 1918, in Corinne, Utah, the daughter of the late Thomas Franklin and Annabelle Hammerland Wise.

She married Richard (Teak) Maurice Jensen on Nov. 26, 1937, in Malad, Idaho, the union was later solemnized in the Ogden Latter Day Saints Temple. Her husband died on Jan. 8, 1988, after 51 years of marriage.

The couple raised two children. Mrs. Jensen’s daughter, Carolyn Anderson, of East Berne, said her mother was attentive and thoughtful.

“She always made us feel there was anything at all we could accomplish. She made me feel like a perfect daughter, although I wasn’t,” said Mrs. Anderson.

She described her mother as an exceptionally hard worker. She was an accountant, and, after she left her job to be at home with her children, she kept the books for her husband’s construction company.

“When my dad was overseas during World War II, she literally built a house. It was amazing what she could do,” said her daughter.

Her many hobbies included gardening, sewing, and reading, but, above all, Mrs. Jensen valued her family.

“She lived in Utah for most of her life, but she would come and spend four or five months at a time with us, and she was here for the past few years. She was really close with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The men in our family really loved to cater to her and spoil her,” Mrs. Anderson said.

“She lived a really good, long life,” she said.


Mrs. Jensen is survived by her children, Carolyn Anderson, and her husband, Boyd, of East Berne, and Richard Jensen, and his wife, Juanita, of Brigham City, Utah; five grandchildren, including Steven Anderson, and his wife, Amy, and their sons, her great-grandchildren, Tyler and Kyle, and Douglas Anderson, and his wife, Connie, and their sons, Nichole and Jake, as well as three other great-grandchildren.

She is also survived by her brother, Paul, and her sisters, Corrine Hunt and Bernice Page.

Her husband died before her, as did her daughter, Janet Arlene Bolduc, her brother, James, and her sisters, Dorothy and Irene.

Burial will be held at the Bear River Cemetery in Bear River City, Utah, on Dec. 8. Local arrangements are by the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

The family wishes to thank the staff of Our Lady of Mercy Life Center for the love, superb care, and comfort they consistently provided.

Memorial contributions may be made to Our Lady of Life Mercy Center, 2 Mercycare Lane, Guilderland, NY 12084.

— Anne Hayden

Stewart R. Kidder

KNOX— A self-described “country guy,” Stewart R. Kidder reached great pinnacles in his career — a top-notch skier, he was tapped to oversee lift construction for the 1980 Winter Olympics in the Adirondacks — but never lost touch with his small-town roots.

He died unexpectedly at his Knox home on Nov. 24, 2010 after a brief illness. He was 66.

Born in Rumford, Maine on Aug. 26 1944, he was the son of Harland and the late Hilda Kidder of Rangeley, Maine. He graduated in 1962 from the Rangeley High School, where he was captain of the ski team. He went on to earn a degree in forestry from Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks.

As a young man, Mr. Kidder was involved with ski racing throughout the eastern United States, competing on the eastern circuit for six years. After college graduation, he embarked in a career in the ski-lift industry, culminating in the position of vice president of sales and project management for Von-Roll Habbeger, one of the top tramway manufacturers in the world.

Mr. Kidder served with the 127th Ordnance Company NYANG from 1965 to 1972.

“He also was an avid skier, hunter, fisherman, camper and all around sportsman,” his family wrote in a tribute. He was a member of the National Ski Patrol, where he was registered as a senior patroller, outdoor emergency care instructor, and alpine rescue instructor.

He was very active in civic programs over the years including the Red Cross blood drives, American Cancer Society fund drives, and Special Olympics programs. He was a past president of the Greater Watertown Jaycees and appeared in the 1971 edition of Outstanding Young Men of America.

Mr. Kidder was a past member of the National Ski Areas Association and associate vice president of the Ski Areas of New York. And, in 1978, he was appointed by Governor Hugh Carey to the New York State Passenger Tramway Council. That year, he oversaw and inspected the installation of ski lifts for the 1980 Winter Olympics. Thereafter, he was the chief of the Bureau of Winter Recreation for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, responsible for the administration and operation of Belleayre, Gore, and Whiteface Mountain ski areas and the Whiteface Memorial Highway and the Mount Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex.

At the time of his death, Mr. Kidder had been with the New York State Department of Corrections for 27 years and spent the last 10 years as the director of Support Operations. As such, he was in charge of purchasing, of managing a fleet of 3,000 vehicles, of all central files for mail and supplies, and he served as quartermaster, supplying uniforms to 24,000 officers.

For several years, Mr. Kidder was a member of the Knox Planning Board, served as a Knox Republican committeeman, and was past president of the Hilltown Republican Club.

He was a past master and secretary of Berne Lodge 684 Free and Accepted Masons, a member of the Valley of Albany Scottish Rite Bodies, Cypress Temple Shrine, and Albany Court 77 Royal Order of Jesters.

When he was asked by the Knox supervisor in 2009 to serve again on the town’s planning board, despite his busy schedule, Mr. Kidder agreed, saying, “I enjoy doing things for the community.”


Stewart R. Kidder is survived by his wife, Gail Ronan Kidder, and his children, Todd Kidder and Karin Dagley and her husband, Bob.

He is also survived by his father, Harland Kidder; his brother James Kidder and his wife, Deborah; and two nephews.

He will be missed by his wife’s immediate family, including her children, Michael and his wife, Molly, Jason, and Adam Wroblewski and his father-in-law Newton Ronan.

He is survived, too, by his grandchildren: Grace, Jack, Maeve, and Liam.

A memorial service was held at the Altamont Reformed Church on Nov. 29, 2010. Arrangements were by the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. A private burial was held in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Berne Masonic Lodge, which was very dear to Mr. Kidder: care of Jerald Irwin, treasurer, 1097 Knox Cave Road, Altamont, NY 12009.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

Carol T. Leavitt

DELMAR — Carol T. Leavitt, a longtime resident of Delmar, died on Sunday, November 28, 2010.

Born in Concord, N.H. on May 14, 1918, she was the daughter of the late Lester and Gladys (Smith) Trafton.

Mrs. Leavitt worked for many years at the Bethlehem Public Library. She was also a member of the Bethlehem Garden Club and an active communicant of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

Mrs. Leavitt played the violin in the Delmar Orchestra and she enjoyed playing bridge.

Mrs. Leavitt is survived by her children, Cheryl Hennington and her husband, William, of Sound Beach, N.Y.; Larry Leavitt of Delmar; and Alan Leavitt of Albany. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Walker Hennington, Rebecca Briggs, and Eric Hennington, and by her great-grandchildren, Ashley, Frankie, William, and Sofia.

Her husband, Frank E. Leavitt, died before her.

Calling hours will be held today, Thursday, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Applebee Funeral Home, 403 Kenwood Ave., Delmar.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 16 Elsmere Ave., Delmar. Burial will be in the Bethlehem Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Mental Health Association of New York State, 194 Washington Ave., Suite 415, Albany, NY 12210.

Ervin C. Van Alstyne

CLARKSVILLE — Ervin Van Alstyne, a steady man with a sense of humor, died on Nov. 27, 2010. He was 82.

After high school, Mr. Van Alstyne was drafted into the Army and served during the Korean War, driving heavy maintenance trucks, said his wife, Mary Van Alstyne.

After he returned home, Mr. Van Alstyne worked in construction for Pinky McMullen and, when “they folded up,” he went to work for the town of Bethlehem taking care of its heavy maintenance trucks, said his wife.

He was always a good-humored man and liked the camaraderie at work. He was also good at throwing darts and played on a softball team for Trotta’s Tavern, Mrs. Van Alstyne said.

She was dating Mr. Van Alstyne’s cousin when he got into a car accident, Mrs. Van Alstyne said. She went to the hospital with his cousin for a visit, she said, and, after that, “Erv started taking me out and that was it.”

“He was a lot of fun. He had a good sense of humor,” she said. “He was pretty stable; if he said he’d be up to the house, he’d be up to the house to pick me up.”

After they were married, the couple spent most of their free time camping in Wells, N.Y. In the winter, Mrs. Van Alstyne remembered, the snow would come up to the roof of their trailer.

They were camping in July of 1973, Mrs. Van Alstyne said, and, when she went to church, she found that the town was crawling with police. Robert Garrow, a sociopath who would later be convicted of murder, had killed a Schenectady teenager who had been camping with friends in Wells.

That was when Mr. Van Alstyne decided that the family would trade in their tent for a camper.

On their way out of town, Mrs. Van Alstyne was driving with her elderly mother in the passenger seat and her husband in the back, reading the newspaper, she said, when they stopped at a police checkpoint. Her mother said to an officer, “You don’t know who we have in the back seat.”

“My husband wore round eye glasses,” Mrs. Van Alstyne said. “Garrow wore round eyeglasses. My husband had a brush cut. Garrow had a brush cut.” She chuckled. The officers made him show identification before they were allowed to move along.

“He was likable,” she concluded of her husband, who, for many years, was a member of what she called the J&S Coffee Club. He and several friends met every morning for years at the car repair shop in Clarksville; they’d “have coffee and solve all the problems of the world,” she said.

Mr. Van Alstyne was also a life-long Yankees’ fan. “We never went anywhere during the World Series,” said his wife. The thrill of his life, she said, came last year on Father’s Day when his granddaughter, Robin Wagner, took him and his son, Bob, to the new Yankee Stadium.

By that age he had trouble walking, she said, but her granddaughter told her, “Grandpa went up those stairs like he was a young kid.”


Mr. Van Alstyne is survived by his wife, Mary Loveday Van Alstyne, and his son, Bob Van Alstyne and his wife, Michelle. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Dorothea Schoep and her husband, Jim; Theresa Farrant; Robin Wagner and her husband, Shaun; and by his great-grandchildren, Samuel and Megan Schoep, Laura Farrant, and Aurora Wagner.

His brothers, Kenneth and Freeman Van Alstyne, died before him.

A funeral was held on Tuesday with arrangements by Meyers Funeral Home in Delmar.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Clarksville Community Reformed Church, Delaware Turnpike, Clarksville, NY 12041.

— Saranac Hale Spence

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