OBITUARIES: Schermerhorn, Potler, Koglman, Roetina, Berger, von der Osten

Harold J. Schermerhorn (1934 – 2014)

SPRINGFIELD, MA—Harold J. Schermerhorn, 80, a resident of Timberlyn Heights in Great Barrington, MA, and formerly of Valatie, died Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at Bay State Hospital.

Born September 14, 1934 in Hudson, he was the son of the late Harold and Catherine (Hallenbeck) Schermerhorn.

Mr. Schermerhorn was Korean War veteran, who served in the U.S. Army. He was a self-employed painter.

He was survived by several cousins.

Funeral services were held Friday, October 17 at the Raymond E. Bond Funeral Home, 1015 Kinderhook Street, Valatie, with the Reverend Stark Jones officiating. Burial followed in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Cathy Erica Potler (1953 – 2014)

BROOKLYN—Cathy Erica Potler, formerly of Margate, passed away at home in Brooklyn, September 21, 2014. She was 61.

She was born in Atlantic City, February 5, 1953. She was the beloved only daughter of Harold “Boots” and Arlene (Snyder) Potler.

Raised in Margate, Ms. Potler attended Atlantic City High School (ACHS), where she graduated in the class of 1971.

As an adult, after graduating from Barnard College and Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Law School, she presented a legal complaint before the United Nations against the Paraguayan government for its human rights abuses of the indigenous group, the Toba-Maskoy. During the mid-1970s and the 1980s, she co-chaired the National Lawyers Guild’s Central America Task Force, helping to raise awareness of human rights violations there.

At the Correctional Association of New York, Ms. Potler researched the abuse and neglect of inmates and helped initiate important reforms within the correctional system. Her reports in the latter 1980s on the nascent AIDS epidemic in New York prisons were considered groundbreaking.

In 1991, Ms. Potler was appointed deputy executive director of the New York City Board of Correction, and in June 2012 she became its executive director. During her tenure, Ms. Potler worked diligently to scale back or eliminate the use of solitary confinement as a punitive measure against inmate populations in New York City’s jails, a policy initiative that is now being seriously considered by the de Blasio administration.

Among those mourning Ms. Potler’s loss are her parents, Harold and Arlene Potler of Lenox, MA; her partner, Martin Vega and their son, Natan Vega Potler of Brooklyn; brother, Andrew Potler and wife Marcia Powdermaker of Lee, MA; and niece, Hannah Potler. She is also survived by her “adopted” son, Damian Popkin. There are also many lifelong friends in the Hillsdale area who lovingly remember the 30 years plus presence of Ms. Potler and her family on Whippoorwill Road.

A celebration of Ms. Potler’s life will be held Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, The Kimmel Center, New York University, 60 Washington Square South, New York City (212 998-4900).

To visit and contribute anecdotes to her memorial website, go to

Contributions in Ms. Potler’s memory may be made in her name for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering (

William Koglman (1926 – 2014)

GREENPORT—William Koglman, 88, of Greenport died Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at his residence.

He was born October 6, 1926 in Hudson.

He served in the U.S. Army as a technician fourth class with the 29th Medical Depot Command.

He earned the Good Conduct Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and the Distinguish Unit Citation.

Mr. Koglman was a machinist at the V & O Press in Hudson.

Surviving are: his wife, Ruth (Bednar) Koglman and his daughters, Barbara Baker and Gail Ziegler.

Funeral services are private.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 8 Storm Avenue, Hudson 12534.

Arrangements are with the Bates & Anderson – Redmond & Keeler Funeral Home, 110 Green Street, Hudson.

Visit to leave condolences.

James H. Roetina (1929 – 2014)

HUDSON—James H. Roetina, 84, of Chatham passed away Saturday, October 11, 2014 at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Born October 12, 1929 in Hudson, he was the son of the late John and Minnie (Martin) Roetina.

Mr. Roetina was predeceased by his wife of 56 years, Lillian (Stickles) Roetina; his brother, John Roetina, Jr., and his sister, Catherine Wloch.

He is survived by his devoted daughter and son-in-law, Lori and Brian Collins of Chatham; three sisters, Raechel Goodfriend, Barbara Troy and Margaret Bednar; two loving grandchildren, Zachary Collins and Abigail Collins; several nieces and nephews.

Mr. Roetina served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was employed as a general construction contractor with Local 1000 in Poughkeepsie. He loved the outdoors, gardening and going to his grandchildren’s sporting events and recitals.

Calling hours are Saturday, October 25, 2014, 9 to 11 a.m. at the Bates & Anderson – Redmond & Keeler Funeral Home, 110 Green Street, Hudson. Funeral services will follow Saturday, 11 a.m. at the funeral home. Burial will be in the Mellenville Union Cemetery.

Donations may be made to Community Hospice of Columbia Greene, 47 Liberty Street, Catskill 12414.

Visit to leave condolences.

 Jerome Berger (1926 – 2014)

ALBANY—Jerome “Jerry” Berger, 88, of Spencertown died peacefully, Monday, October 13, 2014 at Albany Medical Center with his loving companion at his side.

A man of great passions, Mr. Berger loved slow-cooked barbecue, freshly-roasted coffee, well-tailored suits, a night at the theater, jazz music and classical ballet. He will be remembered for his sartorial style and razor-sharp wit, his skills as a cook and a tennis player, and his encyclopedic knowledge of music and literature.

Born in Bellville, IL, March 26, 1926, he was the youngest of three children of Herman and Molly (Smith) Berger, who emigrated from Russia.

He graduated from high school during World War II and enlisted in the United States Army serving with the 10th Mountain Division in the Italian theater.

Upon returning from the war, Mr. Berger studied literature at Washington University in Saint Louis, MO. He married Ruth Sacks in 1949 and together they had three daughters.

An early job in real estate led to a career in urban planning where Mr. Berger’s most notable accomplishment was LaClede Town, an experimental, counterculture housing development the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described as “a little piece of Camelot.” LaClede Town attracted national attention as a model of racial integration and mixed income housing.

During this time the arts district known as Gaslight Square also flourished, making St. Louis a national destination for music and culture, and at its heart was a club called the Crystal Palace owned by Mr. Berger’s great friends the brothers, Fred and Jay Landesman. Mr. Berger was a habitué of the Crystal Palace where he met many of the most influential jazz musicians of the day and went on to host his own weekly jazz radio program.

As political and social tides shifted in the early 1970s, Mr. Berger left St. Louis to live in Morocco with Paula (Berwald) Landesman, widow of Fred Landesman, who would later become his wife. The couple eventually returned to the United States and lived for many years in their famously eccentric apartment at the Osborne, near Carnegie Hall in Manhattan.

In 1980 Mr. Berger and his wife built their home high atop a hill in Spencertown and for two decades they divided their time between the buzz of New York and the quiet of the country.

His wife died in August 2000 and almost immediately after that Mr. Berger began a long and difficult battle with cancer. When he was finally pronounced cancer-free, Mr. Berger retired to Spencertown, where he was surrounded by many good friends including the writers Wesley Brown and Peter Biskind.

In his late years Mr. Berger turned his attention to progressive political causes, working as a fundraiser for local and national candidates and as a volunteer for the voter’s rights organization Election Protection. He also immersed himself in the cultural life of the Berkshires frequently attending performances at Jacob’s Pillow, Tanglewood and many regional theaters.

Mr. Berger combined his love of food and culture in founding a volunteer group called “Let’s Eat!” that catered receptions and fundraisers for Spencertown Academy Arts Center.

For the past several years Mr. Berger spent the winter months in Naples, Florida, and enjoyed hosting his family and friends in the tropical sunshine.

Mr. Berger is survived by his dear companion, Mary Anne Lee of Spencertown; his three daughters, Mindy Sciales (Joe), Shelley Gibbons and Molly Shaikewitz, all of St. Louis; his four stepsons, Rocco Landesman (Deborah), Knight Landesman (Jennifer Petit), Cliff Landesman (Shanny Peer) of New York and Wyatt Landesman of San Francisco.

His legacy will be carried on by his grandchildren, Lizzie Berman, J. Ryan Gibbons, Cristina Tash, Nina Bastow, Caroline, Emily and Joseph Shaikewitz; his step-grandchildren, North, Nash, Dodge, King, Otto, Chance and Mira Landesman and by eight great-grandchildren, Sophia, Sadie, Grace, Chase, Hunter, Finn, Quinn and Giuliana.

A memorial service celebrating Mr. Berger’s remarkable life will be held Saturday, October 25, 2014 at St. Peter’s Church in Spencertown beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Contributions in Mr. Berger’s memory may be directed to the Columbia Arts & Humanities Project at Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, P.O. Box 400, Sheffield, MA, or The fund supports arts in education in local public schools, a cause Mr. Berger and Ms. Lee championed for several years.

“Special thanks to Dr. William Murphy and the staff at Chatham Family Care, the Reverend Drew Patton and the congregation of St. Peter’s Church, and Jack Shear and the staff of the Ellsworth Kelly Studio.” Funeral arrangements are with the French, Gifford, Preiter & Blasl Funeral Home, 25 Railroad Avenue, Chatham.

Richard A. von der Osten (1938 – 2014)

LEEDS—Richard A. von der Osten, 76, of Leeds, formerly of Germantown, died Friday, October 17, 2014.

Born July 7, 1938 in Brooklyn, he was the son of the late Ulrich and Gertrude (Fellows) von der Osten.

He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1959 to 1963.

On March 3, 2007, he retired from the New York State Department of Transportation, where he worked as a motor equipment mechanic for more than 33 years.

Mr. von der Osten was a life member of the Germantown Fire Company, and a 20+ year member of the fire company’s Board of Commissioners.

Survivors include his family: son, Michael Schwartz and his wife Eron of South Cairo; son, Brian Schwartz and his wife Petra of New Mexico; daughter, SueAnne Schwartz of Leeds; sisters, Barbara Korger of CO, Marjorie Metzler of VA, Gwendolyn Suesse of NC, and two grandchildren, Kira Pelton and Sean Daley of South Cairo.

He was predeceased by his wife, Barbara, who died in Augustr, and son, Floyd Moore, III.

Calling hours were October 19 at the Yadack-Fox Funeral Home in Germantown. The Germantown Fire Company conducted services at the funeral home.

Services were held Monday, October 20 at the funeral home and interment followed in Viewmont Rural Cemetery.

Memorial donations are requested to the Germantown Fire Company.



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