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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 22, 2011

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

Katharine Harriet Herber

NEW SCOTLAND — Katharine Harriet Herber, a devoted teacher and world traveler, died on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2011 at her home on Cherry Avenue. She was 95.

Born July 8, 1916 in Feura Bush, she was the only child of the late William and Harriet Herber.

She attended Ravena schools, graduating in 1934. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the State College for Teachers in Albany in 1938, and a master’s degree in Spanish from Vermont’s Middlebury College in 1946. She then earned a master’s degree in library science from the State College for Teachers in 1956.

Miss Herber taught French, Spanish, and Latin at schools in Sauquoit, Oneida County, and South New Berlin, Chenango County. In the last 20 years of her career, she served as a librarian at Ravena Central School, retiring in 1973.

Through most of her retirement, she divided the year between her home in Ravena and Sanford, Fla., where she lived with Robert Sherman, her cousin, and his wife, Kaye. She moved to Delmar in 2002

She was a lifelong member of the Jerusalem Reformed Church in Feura Bush. Recently, she had been a member of the Delmar Presbyterian Church. She was also a charter member of the Markham Woods Presbyterian Church in Lake Mary, Fla.

“A natural teacher, she shared her gift with hundreds of pupils, friends, and relatives,” her family wrote in a tribute. “A voracious reader, she always had a book to share or recommend. An engaging conversationalist through her final days, her life of learning made her a valued resource for family and friends. She readily answered questions on a wide range of topics including geography, language, history, ancient civilizations, art, mythology, genealogy and religion.

“Her insatiable wanderlust and curiosity propelled her world travels. She was among the first Americans to walk on the Great Wall of China after the United States normalized relations there. She traveled by camel on a tenting trip in the desert of North Africa. Her stops also included Iceland, England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Soviet Union, Hong Kong and Japan.
“She carried herself with the dignity and grace one might expect of a school teacher. But she had a quick wit and a keen appreciation for the humor of life’s vagaries. She loved visits from friends and family and often followed each by sending an elegant hand-written note.”


Miss Herber is survived by an extended family and many friends including her cousins, Dr. Clifford H. Casey of Voorheesville, Arthur F. Casey of Niskayuna, and Ruth Sherman Trombley of Malone, and their families; and her friend, Eunice Jones.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, Nov. 26, at 11 a.m. at the Jerusalem Reformed Church, 1433 Indian Fields Rd. (Route 32) in Feura Bush.

Miss Herber has donated her body to the Anatomical Gift Program at Albany Medical College.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (Albany Branch Office, Albany, NY 12205) or the Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany (301 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12206).

Robert John Bradshaw III

VOORHEESVILLE — An avid NASCAR fan who loved his work as a school custodian, Robert John Bradshaw III died on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, after battling cancer for two years. He was 55.

“NASCAR was his life,” said Pamela Miller, his fiancée, of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. “He worked on a pit crew in Lee, New Hampshire,” she said. “His dream was to be a race-car driver.”

Mr. Bradshaw was born in Virginia on May 6, 1956, the son of Robert John Bradshaw Jr. and the late Gloria Deleskiewicz. His father was in the Navy, so the family moved often, said Ms. Miller.

The couple met as students at Altamont Elementary School. “We were together when we were 12 or 13 years old,” Ms. Miller said. “We got separated when his family moved away. I married someone else, and got divorced 25 years ago. He came down from New Hampshire to get me. We’ve been together ever since.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Mr. Bradshaw served two hitches in the Navy in the 1970s, and then, in the 1980s, he served in the Army National Guard.

“He was very patriotic,” said Ms. Miller.

Mr. Bradshaw worked for the Voorheesville School District as a custodian. “He loved his work,” said Ms. Miller. “He worked at the grade school and liked the people he worked with.”

She concluded, “He would do anything for anybody…He was a talker and very friendly. He was very open about things. He would help out anybody who needed it.”


In addition to his fiancée, Pamela Miller, of Voorheesville, Robert John Bradshaw III is survived by his father, Robert John Bradshaw Jr., and his father’s wife, Jackie Bradsaw, of Mount Airy, N. C. His mother, Gloria Deleskiewicz, died before him, as did his infant son, Robert John Bradshaw IV.

He is survived by his brother, Michael A. Bradshaw, who lives in the Philippines; by his two sisters, Cindy Grout and her husband, Steve, of Fort Myers, Fla., and Tammy Bradshaw of Mount Airy, N.C.; by his sons, Michael Shiek of Massachusetts and Gregory Holmes of Maine; by his daughter, Dawn Marie Bradshaw of Massachusetts; by his stepdaughter, Krissy Worth, and her husband, Robert, of Massachusetts; by his two grandsons, Justin Putnam of Massachusetts and Preston Worth of Massachusetts; and by many nieces and nephews.

He is also survived by his step family: Ms. Miller’s son, Mathew Relyea, his wife, Amy, and their daughter, Madison, all of Feura Bush; Ms. Miller’s son, Joseph Relyea and his wife, Lauren, and their children, Collette and Arthur, of Florida; and Ms. Miller’s son, Jason Relyea, his wife, Angelica, and their children, Marissa and Dominic, of Voorheesville.

A memorial service was held on Sept. 17 at the New Scotland Presbyterian Church on Route 85 in New Scotland.

Memorial contributions may be made to: The Family of Robert John Bradsahw III, Post Office Box 146, Voorheesville, NY 12186.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

Anna R. Bates

GUILDERLAND — Anna R. Bates, a long-time Guilderland resident, died Monday, Sept. 19, 2011 at the Community Hospice of Albany Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital. She was 92.

Born in New York City, Mrs. Bates had lived on Dr. Shaw Road since 1950.

She worked for 35 years at the New York State Department of Health’s Griffen Laboratory in Guilderland, retiring in 1979. Mrs. Bates was also a member of the Guilderland Senior Citizens.

Mrs. Bates was the wife of the late Peter W. Winne and Donald Bates; mother of Peter H.E. Winne of Hudson, Fla. and Patricia Ann Scoons of Westerlo; sister of the late Lewellyn Baker, Emerson Earl, Bernice Quirante, Berniece Ellis, Evelyn Gettleman and Arnold Baker; sister-in-law of Sydney Gettleman and Elizabeth Canale. She is also survived by five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Reilly & Son Funeral Home, 9 Voorheesville Ave. in Voorheesville. Burial will be in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Guilderland. Friends may also visit at the funeral home Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., prior to the service.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Caregivers, 2021 Western Avenue, Suite 104, Albany, NY 12203 or the American Cancer Society, 260 Osborne Road, Loudonville, NY 12211.

Brigham Young Robst

Brigham Young Robst died the way he lived — providing inspiration for others.

A student at Florida Career College, he had lived in Guilderland as a teenager and even then was battling cancer to which he succumbed on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011. He was 28. He died at Bayfront Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“His death has affected the entire campus,” said Megan Swiridenko, a receptionist at the Clearwater campus of the Florida Career College where Mr. Robst was a student at the time of his death. He was studying to be a medical assistant technician and had finished 11 months of the 12-month program when he became too ill to carry on, said Ms. Swiridenko. Before college, he had attended Pulaski Academy High School in Pulaski, N.Y., graduating in 2002. He moved to Florida in 2005.

“He came to school every day, happy to be here,” Ms. Swiridenko said. “He touched everybody at the college…He said he wanted to give back to the community.”

The cancer medicine that he needed wasn’t available because of a nationwide shortage, said Ms. Swiridenko. “An hour before he died,” she said, “he was still smiling.”

Mr. Robst was born in Newburgh, N.Y. on June 23, 1983, the son of Clarence and Rosa Santiago Robst.

He had a kidney transplant when he was a baby and had almost died 19 times, his father told The Enterprise in 1996, when Brigham was 13 years old and a student at Farnsworth Middle School. His father donated his kidney to Brigham, and said, “Most kidney transplants last only five years. He’s trying to break the world’s record.

“The world’s record,” Brigham Robst said at the time, “is held by identical twins. One sister gave her kidney to the other; their kidney lasted 20 years.”

As a 13-year-old, Brigham Robst also said, “I usually just say I laugh in the face of death. So many times, I have survived…I have a positive attitude. I know my family is behind me — my father, my mother, my stepmother, my sisters.”

In May of 1996, lymphoma had collapsed his left lung and squeezed his windpipe so he couldn’t breathe. He was hospitalized for weeks, breathing through a tube, which, though it hurt, he never tried to yank out.

“I put it to myself bluntly…I might not survive if I pulled out the tube,” he said. Without a trace of self-pity in his clear, deep eyes, he went on, “I have my religion backing me up. Every night, I hope and pray to survive the next day.”

His mother is Puerto Rican with Caribbean Indian blood and his father is of Mohawk and Cherokee descent, his father said. A medicine bag brought to him in the hospital by tribal elders “definitely helped,” said Brigham Robst.

“Every bone in his body has been fractured and broken through rickets,” his father said in 1996. “He couldn’t even open his mouth to cry.” He endured the pain of spinal taps through a positive attitude and meditation, his father said.

“My Dad taught me how,” said Brigham Robst. “I imagine myself in a place like a forest, and I just stay there in my mind until somebody says it’s done, and then I open my eyes.”

His favorite teacher at Farnsworth Middle School was music teacher Caroline Bennett. “She likes all kinds of music — African-American, Chinese…She has a great sense of humor, and she helps me out, just like the lunch ladies there. If I need someone on my side, I just call Doc Bennett.”

Brigham and his father both said the Guilderland schools, which he started attending in the fifth grade, made a big difference in his life. “Other places, he’d get picked on,” said his father. “He knows what it’s like to be picked on for being different,” said his father. “He was poked fun of at other schools…We’ve gone through our share of bigotry…He knows it’s the person inside that counts.”

“It’s not how you look on the outside that matters,” agreed 13-year-old Brigham Robst.

Tributes to Brigham Robst written last week for the Curlew Funeral Home in Florida show he was appreciated for his inner self. “Brigham was a dear sweet young man,” wrote Tina Duesing whose daughter, Rachel, dated Mr. Robst. “His poor fragile body was not enough for this long life we all have to endure.”

“Brigham has taught and suffered a lot in his life and also was the greatest teacher and mentor anybody could ever have,” wrote Rachel Duesing. “I will never forget his wisdom, thoughts, and stubbornness, but most importantly, I will never forget his love and kindness.”

“It was a blessing to have known him,” concluded Ms. Swiridenko. “He’d say ‘Good morning’ to me every day…He taught me a lot of things. One of them was never to give up.”


Brigham Young Robst is survived by his mother, Rosa Santiago; his father and stepmother, Clarence and Julie Litts Robst Jr.; his sister, Alberta Robst Patterelli, and her husband, Kris; his brother, Clarence, and his wife, Annemarie Salisbury Robst; three nephews, Nicholas, Jacob, and Gavin Robst; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins.

A funeral service was held on Monday, Sept. 19, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Dunedin, Fla., where Mr. Robst was an active member, with burial in Curlew Hills Memory Gardens in Palm Harbor.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

John Bushnell

BERNE — John H. Bushnell, a longtime highway worker, had a sense of humor that made everyone around him happy.

“He was a friendly, fun person,” said his daughter, Heather Schwenk. “He loved to make people laugh,” and he enjoyed helping people.

Mr. Bushnell died on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, at his home in Berne, surrounded by his family, after a battle with cancer. He was 56.

A year after finding out he had lung cancer, Mr. Bushnell was diagnosed with brain cancer in June, and his family and friends held a fund-raiser at the Maple Inn this past July to help pay some of his medical bills, which had been piling up with his ongoing treatment.

In recent months, he wrote frequent letters to the Enterprise editor, often thanking the community for its generosity.

“Having been born and raised here in the Helderbergs,” he wrote, “and now working for the Town of Berne Highway Department (the totally best job there is) for all of you, I already know how big your hearts are.”

Bushnell attributed the discovery of his lung cancer to a logging accident that occurred back in 1992.

During a related surgery last year, the doctors found a tumor on his lung. He underwent chemotherapy from November 2010 through this past March, and returned to work for Berne’s highway department.

But in June, “things went to hell,” Bushnell said.

“I went back in, and they determined that it did go to my brain,” he said. He underwent chemotherapy for 16 weeks, and had been getting radiation therapy, but it wasn’t enough to bring his health back.

Mr. Bushnell was born on Nov. 16, 1954, in Albany, the son of the late Elbridge and Margaret Bushnell.

He and his wife, Beverly Bushnell, had just celebrated their 30th anniversary on June 20.

He worked for years at the Berne Highway Department, and he also sold and delivered firewood.

“He was always so friendly and kind to his wood customers,” his daughter said. “He’s actually had a lot of them for almost 20 years.”

Mrs. Schwenk remembers the times that she and her father spent outdoors.

“I would sit in the truck while he was cutting down a tree, and I would write little letters to him, saying that I love him,” she said. “He took me fishing a couple of times. One time, I caught like six fish, and he didn’t catch any,” she said with a laugh. They usually went fishing in Lake Onderdonk in Westerlo.

Mr. Bushnell enjoyed bowling at Altamont Lanes and Del Lanes in Delmar.

“He did some farming,” his daughter said. “He had chickens, cows, pigs.”

And he had a garden every year.

“Cucumbers, cabbage, corn, peppers, peas, and beans,” she said, adding that they all looked forward to the corn.

“He loved corn on the cob,” she said. “That was one of his favorite things in the summertime.”


Mr. Bushnell is survived by his wife of 30 years, Beverly Bushnell.

He is also survived by five children: Heather Schwenk and her husband, Steven; Jessica Wood and her husband, David Frank; Sabrina Gauthier and her husband, Billy; Melanie Stempel and her husband, Rudy; and John Bushnell Jr.

Also surviving are eleven grandchildren: Courtney, Marissa, McKenzie, Tyran, Ricky, Riley, Elisia, Brandon, Aalyah, Danica, and Trevor, also known as “Stump”; five sisters: Rose, Mary, Bernice, Emily, and Helen; and seven brothers: Joseph, Elbridge, Mike, James, Thomas, Robert and Harold.

His first granddaughter, Brittany Amber, died before him; as did two sisters, Betty and Maggie; and his brother, Stephen.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. this Saturday, Sept. 24, at South Berne Congregational Christian Church, followed by interment in the Bushnell Family Cemetery.

Friends may call on Friday, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Hospice of Albany.

— Zach Simeone

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