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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 15, 2011

Priscilla (Jill) Shepard Belser

ALTAMONT — Priscilla Shepard Belser, known as Jill, was a skilled cook and greengrocer who worked in the field of social welfare. She died on Sunday, Aug. 28, at her home in Albany.

Mrs. Belser was born on Aug. 12, 1943, in Xenia, Ohio, the oldest child of John and Suzanne Shepard. She spent most of her early life in California, moving to upstate New York with her family in 1960. She graduated from Saratoga High School in 1961.

She married in 1962, and raised three children, living in Lexington, Ky., and later in Saratoga Springs. She most recently lived in Altamont, but moved to Albany when her illness affected her driving ability.
Mrs. Belser helped establish the Rape Crisis Hotline in Saratoga Springs in the 1970s, and later worked for many years at Four Winds Psychiatric Center.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Empire State College with concentrations in psychology and sociology, but her real love was food, according to a tribute written by her family.

Her enthusiasm for food and cooking led her to establish FE Bunter Greengrocer in Saratoga in the early 1980s, and she also worked at Ryan’s Produce and Adventures in Food in Albany.

“She was a skilled cook, with a special interest in the food of southern India,” wrote her family.

Priscilla Shepard Belser is survived by her sons, Peter and Michael Burbank; her daughter, Kathy Burbank, and her husband, Steve Wacksman; her grandchildren, Michaela, Zack, Conner, Madison, and Allison; her sisters, Margie Shepard, Judy Waldera, and her husband, Tom, and Rebecca Shepard, and her husband, John Battenfield; and her brother, John Shepard, and his wife, Eileen.

Her husband, Joseph Belser, died in 1999, her father died in 1980, and her mother died in 2010.

Mrs. Belser volunteered as a bereavement counselor with Hospice, and was a Hospice patient through the last eight months of her life. Memorial contributions may be made to Community Hospice of Albany, at 445 New Karner Road, Albany, N.Y. 12205.

A private service will be scheduled at a later date. Arrangements are by the Hans Funeral Home.

Ellwood “Chappy” Chappell

A World War II veteran who worked in construction, Ellwood A. Chappell — known as Chappy — was a devoted family man who loved adventure.

“He invented fun,” said his daughter, Kathleen Sickler. “He had a zest for life.”

Mr. Chappell died peacefully on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. He was 86.

Born in Schenectady to Asa and Gertude Chappell, he was raised in the Hilltowns by various families. “He really liked the Becker Farm,” said Mrs. Sickler. “Maver and Mavis were twins there and Maver looked to my dad as his older brother.”

After graduating from Berne-Knox High School in 1942, he served in the United States Marine Corps, starting in 1943. During World War II, he participated in action against enemy forces in the New Georgia Group, British Solomon Islands as a radar operator and repairman. Awarded a medal for good conduct, he was discharged as a corporal in 1947.
He only talked about the war in recent years, his daughter said. “He was stranded on an island in the Solomons,” she said. “Radar was new then,” and, as a radar operator, he was sent to a new location. “They had to watch the island they were transported from be bombed to hell,” she said.

Another story revealed a second escape from death. Mrs. Sickler, as a baby, was in an unheated car in winter, waiting with her mother while Mr. Chappell was being asked to go for another tour of duty. “He said, ‘My wife and baby are in the car. I have to go now. You can call me.’ The rest of the company died, she said, concluding, “My dad was spared.”

Mr. Chappell had met his wife, Elizabeth, known as Betty, while on leave in Philadelphia. They were a devoted couple, married for 66 years.

After the war, the Chappells moved to the Guilderland area, where Mr. Chappell worked in the construction industry, primarily with Hanson Construction Company, during which time he also co-owned and operated El Dorado Camper Sales with his buddy and cousin Kenneth Engvold.

 The Chappells lived for 34 years at the ancestral Chappell Homestead on Old State Road, formerly Parkers Corners, in Guilderland. During that time, Mr. Chappell enjoyed opening his home and sharing his love as a surrogate father to Juliet, Joanne, and Alfred L’Altrelli, and subsequently to David and Barbara McClean, Mrs. Chappell’s nieces and nephews. “It was a big, old farmhouse, which gave me a good sense of deep roots,” said Mrs. Sickler of the family homestead. The barn, which was older than the house, was part of the original patroon system, she said.

“When I was a teenager, we were redoing the living room, taking out the old horsehair plaster and we found a bottle in the wall dated 1864,” she recalled, noting her father took pride in family history.

The Chappell household was a happy and lively one. “Dad was a character,” said Mrs. Sickler. “He worked hard and he played just as hard…Dad treated my cousins like his own kids. We would dance in the living room, and get haircuts in the cellar.”

Mr. Chappell came up with inventions for the kids to have fun in all seasons. In the summer, they would ride the waves of Thompsons Lake, pulled by a small motorboat. Mr. Chappell cut an eight-foot piece of plywood into a circle with a wooden chair placed on top for the rider.

In the winter, the fun moved to the Watervliet Reservoir in Guilderland. Mr. Chappell cut a large triangle of plywood and affixed skis to the front and ice skates to the back. “You steered with a bicycle handle, and the brake was a metal stick,” recalled Mrs. Sickler with a laugh. “We used to fly like hell.”

After the kids had grown, Mr. Chappell still had fun. ”Kenneth, Chappy, and faithful friend Harry Worthington spent much of their leisure time together hunting, fishing, camping, and snowmobiling in the Adirondack Park,” his family wrote in a tribute. ”On motorcycle, Chappy and Harry along with their wives also spent many adventurous weekends exploring new destinations. After retirement, he and his wife became snowbirds, wintering in Florida and summering on the Mohawk River where they often enjoyed the company of their family and friends.”

For the benefit of his health, Mr. and Mrs. Chappell returned permanently to upstate New York in 1997 where they lived with grandson Matthew Sickler and his family for 10 years. His last four years were spent at Omni Senior Living Center in Guilderland. Mrs. Chappell was his devoted primary caregiver for the last 27 years of his life.

Describing Mr. Chappell as a father, Mrs. Sickler said, “You never doubted he loved you. He was always there for you. Anytime a family member was in need, he was there.”

She concluded, “He had an enthusiasm for life that was unbelievable. He would drag us kids with him. He always wanted to see something new and do something new.”


Ellwood A. Chappell is survived by his wife, Betty Chappell, of Guilderland; his daughter, Kathleen Sickler, and her husband, Dwight, of Guilderland; his grandchildren, Deborah Franzen and her husband, Ronald, of Guilderland; Matthew Sickler and his wife, Marcy, of Alplaus, N.Y., and Charlene Sanna and her husband, Andrew, of Boston; and his great-grandchildren, Matthew and Mark Beliveau, Charles, Valerie, and Clayton Sickler, and, most recently, Caleb Sanna.

He is also survived by his sister, Dorothy Ouilette, of Manchester, Conn., and her daughter, Gail Brown, and her husband, Michael, and their family as well as by his cousin Norman Reinertson and his wife, Lynn, and their family of Florida. He is survived, too, by his sister-in- law, Edna McClean, and niece Barbara Walliman and her husband, Rick, of South Carolina along with Joanne and Alfred.

The family wishes to extend their sincerest gratitude to the Eddy Sr. Care PACE program and is grateful for the loving care and support provided by Doctor Barkowski, Nurse Gaystar, and aides.

A Committal Service will be held at noon on Friday, Sept. 16, at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery. Arrangements are by the Fredendall funeral Home of Altamont.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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