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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 6, 2011

Eleanor L. Schaadt

GUILDERLAND — A hard-working caregiver, Eleanor L. Schaadt lived a long life intertwined with the small-town community that was Guilderland.

She was a longstanding member of the Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church; a charter member of the Guilderland Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary; and a lifetime member of The Order of the Eastern Star.

She died on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. She had turned 93 two weeks before.
“She just loved people,” said her daughter Donna Lee Heald. “Neighbors said, ‘If you want to know what’s going on, ask Eleanor.’ She couldn’t do enough for you. She would clean for you, take care of you if you were sick. She was a caregiver. Just ask her, and she’d do it.”

Born on Sept. 25, 1918 in Middleburgh, Mrs. Schaadt lived in Guilderland for 91 years. Her father, Glenn Becker, drove the stagecoach between Middleburgh and Altamont; her mother, Hazel Becker, was a homemaker who raised four children.
When Mrs. Schaadt was 2, the family moved from Huntersland to Guilderland, where they settled on what is now Nott Road. The farmhouse where they lived still stands, said Ms. Heald. The Beckers worked the farm on the estate of a family who lived in New York City and kept a summer home in Guilderland. “My grandfather became a milkman, and my grandmother worked as a housekeeper,” said Ms. Heald. Mr. Becker pasteurized milk from the farm’s cows and delivered it while, Mrs. Schaadt, as a youngster, helped her mother with housekeeping at the summer home of the New York City family.

At 16, Mrs. Schaadt went to work at the palatial home of Dr. Shaw, a highly regarded Albany pediatrician, on Mill Hill in Guilderland. “It was absolutely gorgeous, a Georgian Colonial with porches and pillars, and gardens,” said Ms. Heald. “My mother was given the job of fixing hor d’oeuvres and serving them. She had no idea what an hor d’oeuvre was.”

Mrs. Schaadt liked to tell stories about the lavish parties at the Shaws’, serving Governor Herbert Lehman, and how the State Police guarded tents filled with gifts for the wedding of Dr. Shaw’s daughter.

By the time Mrs. Schaadt had graduated from Altamont High School in 1936, she was already in love with Oman Schaadt. He lived on the flats off Nott Road near the Normanskill, and he worked, too, for Dr. Shaw, tending to his gardens. “They were neighbor kids,” said Ms. Heald.

When they married, the Schaadts moved to a house at the corner of Foundry Road and Western Avenue; the couple later renovated a century-old house further along Foundry Road. Mrs. Schaadt loved her home. “She was spotless; she cleaned constantly,” said her daughter. “You could eat off the floors.”

Mrs. Schaadt was an excellent cook and baker. “She made a fresh pie for my Dad every day,” said Ms. Heald. She was known for her flaky crusts. She was also known for her seasonal specialties like Christmas fudge and pumpkin bread. While Mr. Schaadt grew produce in their garden, Mrs. Schaadt would can and preserve it.

Mrs. Schaadt shared her cooking skills. She helped host roast-beef dinners at the firehouse; her cookbook has such entries as potatoes for 50, her daughter said. And, as a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, she enjoyed cooking for Altamont Fair patrons and for Scottish Games dinners. “She loved those men because they were full of the dickens,” said Ms. Heald.

Mrs. Schaadt would also prepare hot cocoa for neighborhood children after skating on the old mill pond. “I was so proud of my father because he would lead the whip,” said Ms. Heald. “At that time, Guilderland was just a small village. We knew everyone.”

Mrs. Schaadt, when she was first married, worked as a cleaning woman. She was then a waitress for 24 years at the Turnpike Restaurant. She washed the table linens for the restaurant in a wringer washer at home. “We’d lug them out to the clothesline to dry,” said her daughter, “and then we’d iron them.”

Mrs. Schaadt worked nights and weekends so she could be home when school was out. “She was always at the kitchen window, watching, when I came home from school,” said her daughter.

Fifteen years after her first child was born, Mrs. Schaadt had a second daughter, Cynthia, and then went to work at the Guilderland Post Office. She retired after working there for 10 years. Her husband, who had been a bus driver, became a groundsman at the new Guilderland High School. Until then, the family hadn’t owned a car.

“She’d walk a mile to work at the post office in the morning,” said Ms. Heald. “And then, at lunch, she’d walk home to start our dinner and set the table, and then walk back to the post office. At five o’clock, when the post office closed, Dad would pick her up. She’d cook dinner and we’d do the dishes. That was our routine.”

Later, Mrs. Schaadt worked cooking, cleaning, and caring for a series of ill or elderly people.

Her daughter described her as “quietly religious.” “She had her beliefs,” said Ms. Heald. “She started out a Methodist but, when the church on Willow Street burned, everyone went to the Presbyterian church.”

“She was the most loving mother you could ever have,” said Ms. Heald. “She was the whole center of our family.” She was equally involved with her grandchildren as she had been with her own daughters. “She absolutely adored them,” said Ms. Heald. “She was a cherished Mom and Nana.”

Mrs. Heald concluded with words from her sister, Cynthia Schaadt: “She was a strong woman who always took pride in herself. She was strong to the end.”


Eleanor (Becker) Schaadt is survived by two daughters, Donna Lee Heald and Cynthia Schaadt; two grandchildren, Jeff Heald and Jennifer Heald Meyette; two great-grandchildren, Melissa and Eric Meyette; two nieces; and a nephew.

Her husband, Oman Schaadt, died before her as did her parents, Hazel and Glenn Becker; a brother, Harold Becker; two sisters, Joyce Moeck and Doris Becker; and three nephews.

Calling hours will be held Sunday, Oct. 16, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Guilderland’s DeMarco-Stone Funeral Home, 5216 Western Turnpike, just west of Carman Road (Route 146). A funeral service will be held 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 17, at the funeral home. Interment will be in Memory’s Garden in Colonie.

Mrs. Schaadt’s family wishes to thank the staff at the Hospice Inn and Dr. Howard Terry for the loving care that she received.

Memorial contributions may be made to: The Guilderland Interfaith Council Food Pantry, Post office Box 7, Guilderland, NY 12084.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

John Lee

WESTERLO — John Lee, a town highway worker, was a veteran, a hunter, and a jokester.

He died on Monday, Oct. 10, with his family by his side. He was 86.

“He was a lot of fun, always laughing,” said his wife of 61 years, Vivien Lee. “He was always pulling something.”

Mr. Lee was born on May 30, 1925, in Rensselaerville.

“He was born right in the house,” said his son, Robert Lee.

A hunter and a farmer who raised cows for beef, Mr. Lee also had a cat, which he named Socky because of his sock-shaped fur patterns around his paws.

“His cat sat on his lap and looked him in the eye, like he was saying, ‘I’m taking care of you,’” his wife said.

Mr. Lee spent five years working for the town highway department, but had to retire in 1977, after a heart attack, his wife said.

He had also served in the United States Navy during World War II.
“He went to a lot of different places in the service,” his wife said. “Guantanamo Bay; the Virgin Islands; all those beaches around there were Navy bases.”

Mr. Lee worked as a gunner’s mate, she said

“He had to keep his ears plugged, and one person told him where the gun had to be, and he relayed it to the other ones, who shot the big guns off,” Mrs. Lee said.

She remembers when she and her husband met, in a bar at the old Four Corners in Westerlo.
“Back in those days, the place that everyone went was the beer garden,” she said. “It was my 25th birthday, and he’d already turned 26.”

They were married on Feb. 11, 1950, and remained together until his death.


Mr. Lee is survived by his wife of 61 years, Vivien Lee, and his sons, Robert and Thomas Lee.

He is also survived by a sister, Mary Willsey, and her husband, Harold; and three brothers: Arlington Lee and his wife, Dorothy; Joel Van Keuren and his wife, Rita; and Kenneth Lee and his wife, Charlene.

Also surviving is his sister-in-law, Shirley Lee.
His sister, Francis Metcalf, and her husband, “Buzz,” died before him; along with his sister Gladys Cook, and her husband, Don; his sister Esther Porter, and her husband, Robert; his brother Ben Lee; and his brother Dan Lee and his wife, Marge.
— Zach Simeone

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