Obituaries: Bennett, Bither, Stalker

Elizabeth Bennett, 80, court clerk, pianist

GHENT—Elizabeth Richardson (Gleason) Bennett, 80, died April 30, 2011 in Ghent.

Born August 25, 1930 in Albany, she was the cherished daughter of Florence Coffin Richardson and John Richardson.

She reminisced often about her wonderful childhood growing up on Payn Avenue in Chatham. Graduating at the top of her class at Chatham High School, she earned a full scholarship to Hope College.

For most of her career, Ms. Bennett worked in law offices and was the chief clerk of the Surrogate Court of Columbia County until her retirement in 1997. Her interest in the law continued throughout her life, and she continued to work freelance on legal documents when the opportunity arose.

She also owned and operated the Hudson Area Answering Service for a number of years. She served on both the Kinderhook Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

Ms. Bennett was a past matron of the Eda Chapter#459 of the Order of the Eastern Star and served as secretary of the Claverack Lioness Club. She was also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Devout in her faith, she spent much of her free time working within the church on religious education, in the bookstore and on various mission projects. She was a member of, or was affiliated with the First Reformed Churches of Chatham and Hudson, Reach Out Ministries of Hyde Park and the Calvary Assembly of God.

She had a deep appreciation for music and was an accomplished pianist. In her younger years, she and her brother, Jack, danced as a team in dance hall competitions. More recently, she enjoyed being a part of the singing group, The Red Hat Fancies.

She is survived by her daughters, Gail Gleason Wheeler (Lance) of Claverack and Wendy Gleason Delamater of Hudson; five grandchildren, Jamie Pratt (Lauren), Morganne and Cameron Wheeler, Bradley and Jacqueline Delamater; and three great granddaughters, Jaida, Evangeline and Gabriella. She also is survived by several cousins, nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her parents, and a beloved brother, John (Jack) Richardson.

Ms. Bennett was a devoted and loving mother and friend. Her faith and gentleness of spirit never wavered. She loved and was loved by many and will be remembered for her sharp intellect, kindness and sense of humor.

A memorial service will be held Friday, May 20, 2011, 11 a.m. at the First Reformed Church in Chatham.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Ms. Bennett’s memory may be made to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society. Arrangements are with the Raymond E. Bond Funeral Home, Valatie.

William Bither, Sr., 96, WWII vet, mail carrier

CANAAN—William Martin Bither, Sr., 96, of 329 Pittsfield Rd., Lenox, died on Saturday, May 7 at his daughter-in-law’s home in Canaan.

He was born in Canaan November 24, 1914, son of Henry D. and Grace Schilling Bither.

Mr. Bither was a long-time Canaan resident. He graduated from Chatham High School and attended New York University until he left to join the US Navy. A machinist during World War II, he served from 1942 until 1945.

In 1956, Mr. Bither joined the US Postal Service as mail carrier. He retired in the 1980s. He also worked at the Berkshire Farm Center and the former Tennessee Gas Corporation. He was a member of the Canaan Congregational Church and served as president of the Canaan Cemetery Association for many years.

Mr. Bither is survived by his wife of 63 years, Betsy Moore; daughters, Janet Canfield of Watkins Glen, and Jeanne Siemer of Anaheim Hills, CA; daughter-in-law Carrie Bither of Canaan; grandchildren, William M. (Kimberly) Bither of Southampton, MA, David Bither (Odessa) of Roulette, PA, Joy Crane (Joe) and Kristen (Derek) Bacon of Watkins Glen, Nicole Siemer of Anaheim Hills, CA; a sister, Laura B. Steidel of Ft. Myers, FL; nieces, Diane Kline of New Lebanon , Susan Hall of Canaan and Alberta Steidel; nephew, Arthur Steidel of Florida; great grandchildren, Abriana Grace and Alexander Hayden Bither, James Philip and Luke William Bither, Gabrielle Christine Crane and Isabella Alina Bacon.

He was predeceased by son William M. Bither, II, and sister, Helen Hoffman.

There are no calling hours. There will be a graveside service presided over by the Reverend Mark Longhurst, Tuesday, May 10, 1 p.m. at Canaan Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Canaan Cemetery Association. To send an online condolence visit

Matthew Stalker, 78, loved family and wood cutting

ALBANY— Matthew I. Stalker passed away unexpectedly, May 7 at Albany Medical Center.

Born September 20, 1932 in Hillsdale, he was the son of the late Ira and Celia Van der Biesen Stalker.

He was educated at the Roeliff Jansen Central School and was a member of the class of 1950. He went on to graduate from SUNY Utica.

Mr. Stalker served in the Air Force, then went to work at Pratt Whitney in North Haven, CT; Ryerson Steel in Wallingford, CT; Damon Lab in Meriden, CT and retired to Spencertown. He was a member of St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church in Spencertown.

Mr. Stalker loved his family, cutting wood and doing community work.

He is survived by his wife, Doris Jean McComb Stalker; his children, Tim (Wendy) of Spencertown, Peggy of Wallingford, CT, Tom (Richard Long) of Boston, MA, Scott (Maritza) of Cromwell, CT, Christopher (Julie) of Chazy; grandchildren, Matthew, Bailey, Taylor, Connor, Ian Stalker and Travis Fahey; his sisters, Nellie Cheng, Celia McGee and Jeanetta McCauley; and several nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by a brother, Alan Stalker and sister, Ora Morando.

Family will receive friends Tuesday, May 10 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the French, Gifford, Preiter & Blasl Funeral Home, Chatham. Religious services will be celebrated Wednesday, May 11, 11 a.m. at St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church in Spencertown. Interment will follow at the Spencertown Cemetery.

Memorials in Mr. Stalker’s name may be made to the Friends of Historic St. Peters, Box 278, Spencertown 12165 or to the Community Hospice of Columbia/Greene, 47 Liberty Street, Catskill 12414. For directions or to send an online condolence visit


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