Obituaries: Stewart, Grenci, Sheldon, Bessette, Miller, Coon, Fivelsdal, Kearns, Palmer

Weir Stewart, Jr. (1923 – 2014)

SARASOTA, FL—Weir Stewart, Jr., aged 90, a former resident of Claverack for more than 25 years and a resident of Sarasota, FL for the past three years died at home, January 7, 2014, after a short illness with his five children present.

Born in Auburn, he got an early start launching financial enterprises—growing vegetables and selling eggs during the Great Depression; sailing and skiing—activities that were to define his life-long interests and endeavors.

Mr. Stewart entered Princeton University (class of 1945), leaving to serve in the 10th Mountain Division (ski troops) during World War II. At Camp Hale, Colarado, and Camp Swift, Texas, he trained in and taught rock climbing, skiing, survival and weaponry. Mr. Stewart shipped out to Italy where he played an important role in the attack on Riva Ridge, leading the platoon at night in icy conditions up a 1,500-foot vertical cliff considered impassable by the Germans.

Pitons were set allowing his division to follow for the surprise assault that led to breaching the German’s Apennine Mountain line. Mr. Stewart was awarded the Bronze Star and was also among the many casualties, receiving his first of two Purple Hearts.

After the war, Mr. Stewart graduated from Princeton, married Deborah “Dee Dee” Brockway in 1949, and moved to Farmington, CT, in 1959. His love of finance was expressed first through investments and sales, including a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, and developing a stock market timing system.

Later, in the 1970s, he combined his financial activities with his interest in cattle and farming. Starting with beef cattle at Sir William Angus in Hillsdale, he then settled on dairy farming at Odyssey Farm in Copake Falls, becoming known nationally and internationally for his developments in animal science and waste management.

Mr. Stewart was known for his quiet, philanthropic manner, contributing to his community through gifts, time and financial support. Whether it was serving on the board of Auburn and Union Theological Seminaries, the Columbia Soil and Water Commission or contributing to the Taconic Hills School, Roeliff Jansen Community Library, returning the site of Odyssey Farm to open space (now in the New York State Parks system), or directly assisting individuals, he could be counted on.

Mr. Stewart was predeceased in 2007 by his wife of 57 years and is survived by their five children and spouses, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Hilah M. Grenci (1930- 2014)

ALBANY—On February 1 the heavens opened and Hilah M. Grenci was escorted by angels to her new life within the Kingdom of God.

Her short illness was preceded by a long life filled with a deep love for her family, love for life and compassion for others.

She was a teacher for more than 40 years. Twenty-eight of those years were spent teaching her favorite class of children, kindergarteners. She felt blessed that she was able to have such wonderful experiences and how those experiences so enriched her life.

In 1958, her strong belief and devotion to family led her and other state trooper’s wives to organize an effort to have the state reduce the work week from 126 hours to 60 hours.

She and her dear friend, Lynn Strunk, on behalf of all of the trooper’s wives and with the support of Assemblyman Willard Drumm and others, petitioned the governor for this change. Later that year the governor approved their request.

Mrs. Grenci was a loving and devoted wife, a wonderful mother and grandmother and a loyal and loving friend to many. She cherished those relationships throughout her life. Her family and friends were blessed by her presence in their lives and her loving and compassionate spirit will be forever remembered by those she touched.

Mrs. Grenci is survived by: her loving and devoted husband, Tito; her daughter, Maria; son, Tod and his family, Susan, Luke, Adam and Casey; great grandson, Jacob and many loving nieces and nephews.

A Mass was held at St. Joseph’s Church in Stuyvesant Falls, February 4 to celebrate her new life.

For those who would like to, a donation to the First Presbyterian Church Food Pantry in Valatie would be appreciated.

Arrangements were with the Raymond E. Bond Funeral Home, Valatie.

Floyd E. Sheldon (1939 – 2014)

HUDSON—Floyd E. Sheldon, 74, of Hudson, passed away Saturday, February 1, 2014 at his residence.

Born May 8, 1939 in Hudson, he was the son of the late Robert and Elizabeth Sheldon.

He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1956 to 1959.  Mr. Sheldon was employed as a machine operator at Kimberly-Clark’s Ancram Mill. He enjoyed horse-racing and one-armed bandits.

He is survived by: his wife, Evelyn (Decker) Sheldon; three children, Ronnell Sheldon and Rachel Adams, both of Hudson, and Jeremy Van Ness of Chatham; two brothers, Andrew Sheldon and Warren Sheldon, both of Hudson; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by two brothers, Thomas and Freddie Sheldon, and his sister, Barbara Van Ness.

Calling hours will be 3 to 5 p.m., Saturday, February 8 at the Bates & Anderson – Redmond & Keeler Funeral Home, Hudson. Services will follow at 5 p.m. at the funeral home.

Visit to leave condolences for the family.

Dana A. Bessette, Sr. (1956 – 2014)

ANCRAMDALE—Dana A. Bessette, Sr., 57, of Ancramdale and a former longtime resident of Copake passed away Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at his residence.

He was born February 18, 1956 in Great Barrington, MA, to the late Donald J. and Dorothy (Lyons) Bessette.

Mr. Bessette was employed with the former A.C. Bristol Lumber Company in Copake, as driver with Deuel’s Home Center in Pine Plains and as a mechanic for Frank’s Garage in Copake.

He is survived by: his son, Christopher J. Bessette and his siblings, Donna, David, Delor, Dale and Dante.

He was predeceased by his son, Dana, Jr., in 2001 and two brothers, Donald and Darryl.

A memorial gathering will be held Saturday, February 8, 2014 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Peck and Peck Funeral Home, Route 22 in Copake.

Private interment will be in Old St. Bridget’s Cemetery, Copake Falls. To send an online condolence visit

William I. Miller (1929 – 2014)

CANAAN, CT—William I. Miller, 84, of Copake passed away Saturday, February 1, 2014 at Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

He was born September 12, 1929 in Gallatin, a son of the late William and Mabel (Young) Miller.

Mr. Miller was employed by Warp Knit Textiles in Mellenville for 28 years until it relocated out of state. He then worked for the LorBrook Corporation in Hudson for 12 years until its closing. After that he was employed by New York State Parks and Recreation and Historical Preservation at the Clermont Historic Site for 13 years until his retirement. He, along with his late wife, Betty also owned and operated the former Parkway Drive-In, Martindale from 1964 to 1974.

Mr. Miller was a member of the Church of St. John in the Wilderness in Copake Falls, an executive committeeman for the Columbia County Democratic Party and a member of the former Roeliff Jansen Lions Club. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and for many years pitched for a local men’s softball league.

His family was the center of his world. From skiing, skating and golfing with them until age 70, to watching a Yankee game, he was most happy while doing something with them.

He was predeceased by his wife of 56 years, Betty K. Waldorf Miller in 2007; a sister, Alice Smith and a brother, Bradley R. Miller.

He is survived by: his son, Wayne N. Miller and daughter-in-law, Cathy; his daughter, Wendy K. Walton and son-in- law, James; daughter, Wonell B. Miller and son-in-law, Bob Haight and daughter, Winette Harrington and son-in-law, Michael Edge, all of Copake. He also leaves his extended family, David and Victoria Parsons of South Carolina and son-in-law, Rodney Van Tassel of Stuyvesant; his 11 grandchildren, Kelly Miller-Simmons, Alexis Lauture, Courtney Pavlovich, William Van Tassel, Thomas Sindler, Alyssa Hines, Jamie Walton, Bryan Van Tassel, Brittany Harrington, Alison Van Tassel and Lydia Van Tassel.  He also leaves 11 great-grandchildren and his siblings, Edna Dietz and husband Jack of North Carolina, Ann Van Deusen and husband Arnold of Claverack and Jake Miller and wife Carolee of Copake; several nieces and nephews.

Friends are invited and may call Friday, February 7, 2014 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Peck and Peck Funeral Home, Route 22 in Copake.

A Service of Remembrance will be held Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 11 a.m. from the Church of St. John in the Wilderness, Route 344 in Copake Falls with the Reverend John Thompson officiating.

Private interment will be in the Evergreen Cemetery, Pine Plains.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider the Recreation Department at Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 99 South Canaan Road, Canaan, CT 06018. Mr. Miller participated in many events at the center and was especially fond of the annual fishing derby. Contributions will be used to keep the derby funded for future residents to enjoy.

The family thanks Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for the compassionate care afforded Mr. Miller.l

To send an online condolence visit

Emma E. Coon (1922 – 2014)

RHINEBECK—Emma E. Coon, 91, a longtime resident of Red Hook, passed away Tuesday, February 4, 2014.

Born August 23, 1922 in Westbury, she was the daughter of the late Emil and Bertha (Gunterberg) Engels. Her family moved to Red Hook in 1938 and she was a graduate of the Red Hook Schools. She was the co-founder, treasurer and active member of the Red Hook School’s Alumni Association.

She married Donald V.R. Coon, Sr., February 24, 1946 at St. John’s Reformed Church in Upper Red Hook. Mr. Coon predeceased her December 14, 1976.

A longtime fixture in the Red Hook community, Mrs. Coon started her career at the Red Hook Telephone Company. She along with her husband, were the owners and operators of Donald V.R. Coon, Sr., Sanitation from 1960 to 1980. Mrs. Coon also worked from 1982 to 1989 as the manager of the Annandale Hotel. She was a clerk for the Stewart’s Shoppe in Red Hook from 1990 to 1999, and starting in 2000, she worked as the administrative assistant for the Red Hook Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mrs. Coon was a member of St. John’s Reformed Church of Red Hook for more than 60 years. She also served as its Sunday school supervisor. Mrs. Coon was former den mother of pack #42 Red Hook Cub Scouts, she was the first Webalos leader in Red Hook and also held various offices up to and including the state level of the Red Hook Auxiliary #7765 VFW; she was a member of the Red Hook Alumni Association; past president of the Northern Dutchess Business and Professional Women; a member of the Red Hook Seniors; the Red Hook Rebeccas and the local Red Hat Society.

Honored for her lifelong commitment to her community, Mrs. Coon was honored by both Village of Red Hook and the Town of Red Hook as the 2005 Hardscrabble Parade grand marshal and was the Red Hook citizen of the year; and by the grange and the Red Hook Rotary in 2000.

She is survived by her loving family: her son, Leslie A. Coon, Sr., of Chatham; her grandchildren, Christopher A. Coon of Red Hook, Leslie A. Coon, Jr., of Red Hook, Rion R. Coon of Orlando, FL, Kimberly A. Coon of Red Hook and Whitney M. Coon of Red Hook; her great-grandchildren, Macalia A. Coon of Tivoli, Jacob R. Coon of Tivoli, Emily Rosenberg of Catskill and Olivia Hicks of Red Hook; along with several nieces and nephews.

In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by two sons, Donald V.R. Coon, Jr., and Robert B. Coon.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., February 8 at St. John’s Reformed Church, Red Hook. The Reverend Eric Titus will officiate. Burial will be at St. John’s Reformed Church Cemetery, Red Hook.

Friends may call at the Burnett & White Funeral Homes, Friday, February 7, 2014 from 4 to 7 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made to the Red Hook Alumni Association, P.O. Box 353, Red Hook 12571 or Veteran of Foreign Wars National Home for Children, 3573 South Waverly Road, Eaton Rapids, Michigan 48827.

Arrangements are under the direction of Burnett & White Funeral Homes, 7461 South Broadway, Red Hook.

For directions or to sign the online guest book visit

Evelyn C. Fivelsdal (1919 – 2014)

RHINEBECK—Evelyn C. Fivelsdal, 94, of Germantown died Monday, February 3, 2014 at Northern Dutchess Hospital.

Born February 9, 1919 in Mount Vernon, she was the daughter of the late Edward and Grace (Crabb) Partch.

Before her retirement, she was superintendent of apartment buildings in Port Chester.

Surviving are: her children, Harold Fivelsdal of Red Hook, Ingrid Saestacl of Norway and Linda Napolillo of Brooklyn; seven grandchildren and three great-grand children. She was predeceased by her husband, Harold.

Calling hours will be Friday, February 7, 1 to 3 p.m. at the Yadack-Fox Funeral Home, Germantown with services at 3 p.m. Interment will be in the Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla at 1 p.m., Saturday, February 8.

Paul M. Kearns (1949 – 2014)

HUDSON—Paul M. Kearns, 64, of Hudson entered into eternal rest Saturday, February 1, 2014.

Born June 2, 1949 to the late Patrick and Susan (Diaz) Kearns, he was employed for more than 13 years as a driver for Hudson River Bulk of Hudson.

He is survived by: his loving wife, Marie (Wilhelm) Kearns of Hudson; son, James; daughter, Cheryl; brothers, Robert Diaz and Brian Diaz; sisters, Nola Zito, Mary Ellen Mole and Linda Kubler; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Joseph and Josephine Wilhelm; nieces, nephews, dear family and friends.

Funeral services will be 1 p.m., Thursday, February 6 at the Yadack-Fox Funeral Home, Germantown. Interment will follow in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Greenport.

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to Mr. Kearn’s family, c/o Marie Kearns, 4317 Route 9, Hudson 12534

Willard E. Palmer (1937 – 2014)

CANAAN, CT—Willard E. Palmer, 76, a 24-year resident of Ancramdale, previously of Pine Plains died peacefully at Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Sunday, February 2, 2014.

Mr. Palmer was a professional truck driver for J & J Log and Lumber Corporation in Dover Plains and for Arnoff Moving and Storage in Poughkeepsie. His career took him to Florida for a brief period of time where he worked for SCAT and Pinkerton’s in Sarasota, FL, before retiring to New York in 2000.

Born October 15, 1937 in Sharon, CT, he was the son of the late Willard D. and Svanhild Ness Palmer.

Mr. Palmer attended Lakeville, CT, area schools. He married Alice L. Stickles, October 1, 1982 in Millerton. She survives him at home.

Mr. Palmer was a former member of the Millerton Fire Company and NYCONN Riders Motorcycle Club. He enjoyed tinkering and building things at his home and enjoyed spending time with his loving wife. “His CB radio handle was Hooker and his many friends and fellow truckers will forever remember Hooker as a good guy who told it straight and never mixed words.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Palmer is survived by: two daughters, Tamara Lynn Mansfield and Melissa Johnson; two step-children, Jean Paul Lachaine, Jr., and Mary Ann Miles; a sister, Sigrid Guidera; 14 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by two sisters, Dagmar and Ruth and a granddaughter, Yvette Johnson.

Calling hours will be held Friday, February 7, 2014 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Scott D. Conklin Funeral Home, 37 Park Avenue, Millerton. Funeral Services will take place at 7:45 p.m., Friday, February 7, 2014 at the funeral home. The Reverend Henry Prause will officiate. Burial will be private.For directions or to send an online condolence visit


Comments are closed.