OBITUARIES: Scheriff, Agins, Blass, Gregory, Abrams, Knebel, Curran, Occhibove, McVeigh, Vyhnanek

Dr. Jean W. Scheriff (1954 – 2015)

CASTLETON–Dr. Jean Williams Scheriff, EdD, of Castleton passed away May 27, 2015.

She was the daughter of (the late) Jim and June Williams of East Greenbush.

She was educated at Russell Sage College, Sage Graduate School, Massachusetts College of the Liberal Arts and Seton Hall University.

She was most thankful to have had the opportunity to complete a doctorate with Cohort X at Seton Hall; the power of X!

Dr. Scheriff was a long-time employee of Chatham Central School and relished being part of that school community. Despite leaving Chatham in May 2015, she received love and support from her colleagues and students throughout her illness. She was excited to move to The Neil Hellman School but her hope of sharing her experience and expertise serving students with disabilities was cut short by her diagnosis of lung cancer.

Dr. Scheriff is survived by her husband of 33 years, Jim Scheriff of Kinderhook and her beloved son, Colin and his wife Dr. Jenn Scheriff of Belleville, NJ.

She also leaves behind her much-loved Williams and Scheriff siblings. The family joke is that the “in-law was dropped long ago” and the family considered themselves truly brothers and sisters. Siblings include: Judy and the late Jerry O’Neil of Nassau, Jeff Williams, (the late) Jack and Lue Williams of East Greenbush, Joanne and Scott Sherman of Cape Coral, FL, Jim and Dana Williams of Wynantskill, Kate and David Burnham of Syracuse, Marge and Bruce Jennings of Claverack, Jack and Phyllis Scheriff of Stuyvesant Falls, Andy and Carol Scheriff of Bristol, CT, Theresa and Alan Thompson of Niverville, Tom and Becky Scheriff of Kinderhook, Billy and Lynn Scheriff, Mary Ann and Greg Smith of Stuyvesant. She was blessed to have many nieces and nephews including godson, Joel O’Neil.

Friends are welcome at the Raymond E. Bond Funeral Home, 1015 Kinderhook Street, Valatie, Sunday, May 31 from 4 to 8 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be conducted Monday, June 1, 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church in Castleton. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Stuyvesant Falls at a later date.

Ethel Agins (1913 – 2015)

ROCHESTER—Ethel Agins passed away May 29, 2015 at 101 years old.

She was born September 5, 1913 in Troy.

Mrs. Agins was a life-member of Congregation Anshe Emeth, Greenport. She had been living in Rochester for the past several years. During her residence in Hudson, she was very active in synagogue and community life.

Mrs. Agins was predeceased by her husband, Samuel; son, Bernard; parents, Isadore and Bessie Gaies; siblings, Faye Viper, Anne Miller, Toby Brown, Abraham and Joseph Gaies.

She is survived by her devoted daughter-in-law, Rose Agins; grandsons, Joshua (Mandy) and Jonathan; sister-in-law, Leah Gaies; loving nieces, nephews and many dear friends.

The family appreciates the loving care provided by the caregivers of the Jewish Home 4 SW. “We will be forever grateful to each of you.”

Graveside services will be held Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 1 p.m. in Cedar Park Cemetery in Hudson.

Memorial donations may be made to: Jewish Senior Life Foundation, 2021 Winton Road South, Rochester 14618, or to Congregation Anshe Emeth, 240 Joslen Boulevard, Hudson 12534.

Arrangements are with the Brighton Memorial Chapel, Rochester. Send condolences at

Louise Blass (1922 – 2015)

GHENT—Louise Mary (Strever) Blass, 92, passed away May 27, 2015 at the Whittier Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, where she had resided for a number of years. Her daughter and grandsons were at her bedside in her last days to comfort her until she passed.

Funeral services were held at the French, Gifford, Preiter, Blasl Funeral Home, 25 Railroad Avenue, Chatham, May 30. Jason Wolczanski, lay leader at the Sauquoit Valley United Methodist Church, and Mrs. Blass’ grandson officiated. Following the service, she was interred at the Chatham Rural Cemetery.

She came into this world at the end of a horse-drawn wagon ride from the Strever homestead to the Angell residence on Angell Hill Road, the ancestral home of her mother. Helen Margaret (Sipperly) Strever, her mother, descended from Thomas Angell who accompanied Roger Williams to settle Providence, Rhode Island. Delmer Charles Strever, the third son in his family, inherited his father’s Spencertown farm. Their family is descended from an 18th century German Palantine immigrant who settled in Ancram. Her personality reflected this heritage, industrious and steadfastly determined with just the right amount of good humor thrown in.

She was the eldest child of three. Her brother, Roy Delmer Strever and sister, Catherine (Kitty) Helen (Strever) Ploss, would both predecease her. She fondly recalled life on the farm, when her paternal grandfather would dance her around the dining room singing about the wall paintings. When the farm had to be sold, she worried about the welfare of the family’s faithful team of horses. Delmer’s near fatal accident when the steam-power sprayer exploded in the orchard caused the family to have to give up the farm while he recuperated for months. It was then that the family moved to Chatham, to an apartment on Moore Avenue.

During her high school years, the family moved to their Church Street home and she met and began dating Ralph Blass. World War II was looming as she neared graduation. Before Mr. Blass was drafted, they quietly became engaged. In 1943, her yearbook description read, “never idle a moment, but thrifty and thoughtful of others.” She began working in Drumm’s Jewelry Store on Main Street after graduation. It began a lifelong love of jewelry. With her “free” time she would go to Hudson and volunteer to sew stripes on army uniforms and cut out pictures of the war news and tack them to the attic walls in her house, especially maps of the Pacific Theater. Then war ended.

On February 16, 1946, in the home on Church Street where, coincidentally, Mr. Blass was born and then Miss Strever still lived, they had their wedding reception. It had been a long courtship with several years interrupted by war. Mrs. Blass gave birth to two children. The first baby girl, Nancy Jean, is buried in Chatham Rural Cemetery having lived only three days. Their second daughter, Gail Catherine, was a healthy baby born in 1950. Mr. Blass had returned to work on the railroad and his wife set about making a house a home. Home meant several different locations, one in White Plains, as Mr. Blass’ job assignments shifted. By 1955, after at least four different residences, they had a home on Shore Road in the village. She and her sister co-ran a shop on Central Square. The Town and Country Dress Shop required many trips to New York City to replenish inventory. To care for a husband and child and run the business was too much of an investment in time. Mrs. Blass chose to work at a dress factory on River Street instead. In 1962 they rented out their house and moved down the line. Mrs. Blass worked as a waitress and then in a manufacturing plant. Part-time housekeeping at the home of a DuPont family was also in her work history. When they returned to Chatham in 1968 to the Shore Road home, Mrs. Blass started to do volunteer work. There was the Columbia Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the American Legion Post 42 Auxiliary where she served as president for an interim, and Meals on Wheels delivery volunteer. Also, she would cook full breakfasts for the rail crew that Mr. Blass would bring home regularly. Then, for fun, she did projects with the Home Bureau, crocheted and made quilts and numerous other crafts. She very much enjoyed using the annual membership to the MacHaydn Theatre. She even tried snowmobiling!

As well as a volunteer, traveler, homemaker, hostess, cook, fundraiser, doting mother and attentive wife, Mrs. Blass was a seamstress who made doll clothes as well as Gail’s dance and Halloween costumes. She also gave her daughter an appreciation for history.

The lady also had a talent for collecting family heirlooms. The attic, dresser drawers, kitchen shelves, every place had an item or photograph for which there was a story that she always shared. That is how her daughter learned to love history, especially that of Chatham.

Gail had married and made Mr. and Mrs. Blass grandparents in 1979 and again in 1982. Mrs. Blass was a devoted grandmother with “goody bags” ready for each boy on every visit. Every summer they enjoyed months at their camp on Kinderhook Lake especially now that they had the boys. It had been their home base close to family while shifting from one address to another. Mr. Blass and his buddies put it together in 1953 from native lumber, pallets and found wood. And when friends dropped by from Chatham or elsewhere-spontaneous parties appeared as Mrs. Blass whipped up some treats or cooked up a full meal. She frequently took bus trips with the local senior citizens group. Starting in the 1960s the couple enjoyed Florida trips annually. Mrs. Blass had a lingering to see even more of the world. She cruised to Bermuda with Gail and her grandsons and later made the 25th Anniversary Cruise aboard the QE2 with her daughter. And when Mr. Blass suddenly passed away in 1993, she was determined to continue the Florida vacation. That was a yearly ritual until walking became a problem. Hospitalization and other health problems followed until she was unable to safely live in her home.

“If I have to go to a nursing home, it has to be on the land where I picked corn on the cob.” She was referring to the ancestral Ostrander farm on Route 66 and what is now Whittier. She made the best of her situation being the raffle person to raise money for activities, performing in the talent shows telling jokes about her sister’s craziness, and even mending other residents’ clothes. While there her hip broke simply by standing up. She went through surgery and physical therapy at Whittier Rehabilitation Center where she remained. Her death was mourned by many of the staff members who had known her a decade or more.

She is survived by her daughter, Gail Catherine (Blass) Wolczanski; son-in-law, Gary; grandsons, Jason and Jarrad; great-grandchildren, Amelia and Samuel; a niece, Cathy Louise (Ploss) Trevett of Florida.

In remembrance of Mrs. Blass, her daughter asks that a donation be given to preserve the history of Chatham through the efforts of the Chatham Village Historical Society. Mrs. Wolczanski, president of the society, says that her mother was a constant source of encouragement in that regard.

Edward P. Gregory (1936 – 2015)

ALBANY—Edward P. Gregory passed away May 26, 2015 at Albany Medical Center after a brief illness.

Born in Honesdale, PA, May 26, 1936, he was the son of the late Enos and Rose Anna Wahl Gregory.

He came to Columbia County as young boy. He attended school in Old Chatham. He work a variety of jobs between mowing and farm work, later driving truck for the Pine Lane Poultry Farm in Hillsdale and finished his career as partner driving truck from Florida to Maine until he retired.

A quiet man who would share the story only if he was asked, he loved the country life.

He is survived by: his sister, Joan (Leon) Pajak; brother, Clarence Gregory; several nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by two sisters and three brothers.

Calling hours were Friday, May 29 at the French, Gifford, Preiter & Blasl Funeral Home, 25 Railroad Avenue, Chatham. Interment was at the Mellenville Cemetery.

Christopher William Abrams (1982 – 2015)

EAST CHATHAM—Christopher William Abrams passed away Sunday, May 24.

He was born July 19, 1982 in Catskill, to Kathleen Morrone and the late Timothy W. Abrams.

He is survived by his wife, Mallory Abrams of Scotia; his son, Cameron; step-children, Makayla and Patrick; grandmothers, Marcia Abrams of East Chatham and Judith Koch of Southport, NC; mother, Kathleen Morrone (Frank) of Ravena; sister, Sarah Abrams (Robert) of East Greenbush; aunts, Lynnette Koch (Jamie) of Clifton Park, Deborah Southard (James) of Hancock, MA, and Mary Moon (Terry) of East Chatham; uncles, Shawn (June) Abrams of Latham, Stephen Abrams of East Chatham and Robert Koch, Jr., of Southport, NC; cousins, David Moon, William Moon, Adam Moon, Jennifer Moon, Jessica Moon, Kristen Riley, John Abrams and Morgan Abrams.

He was predeceased by his father, Timothy Abrams, grandfathers, John Abrams and Robert Koch, Sr., and cousins, Jasson Jackson, Courtney Moon and Amanda Moon.

He spent his early years in East Chatham, where he attended Chatham Central Schools. He later moved to the state of Washington, where he graduated from Bethel High School. After high school he returned to the capital district area of New York and attended Schenectady County Community College, where he studied culinary arts. He was an excellent chef who enjoyed his work in restaurants, as well as cooking for his family and friends. He had a love of the outdoors and some of his favorite times were spent on his family’s properties in East Chatham and Queechy Lake. He enjoyed ATVs, motorcycles, cars and anything that would go fast. He had a special bond with his “Mum Mum,” Marcia Abrams and his aunt, Lynnette Koch, whom he affectionately called “Scooter.” Everyone he met experienced his great sense of humor and his sharp wit. He had a way of making everyone he met feel special. He will be remembered for his sensitive spirit and his love of life. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Donations to a fund to benefit his son Cameron may be made at First Niagara Bank, 20 Faith Plaza, Ravena 12143.

Arrangements are with the French, Gifford, Preiter & Blasl Funeral Home, 25 Railroad Avenue, Chatham.

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Marilyn Knebel (1929 – 2015)

PHILMONT—Marilyn “Lynn” Ernestine Boucher Knebel, 85, died at Pine Haven Nursing Home, Wednesday, March 11. Born June 17, 1929 in Atlanta, GA, she was the daughter of Mary Seizemore West and Earnest Boucher.

She was a graduate of Bristol High School Bristol, West VA, and served in United States Army as a nurse and achieved the rank of captain.

Her hobbies included sewing, puzzles and needle craft. Mrs. Knebel was the mother of five daughters, three survive, Diane Elaine Rhea of Tampa, FL, Cynthia Marie Vredenburg of Virginia Beach, VA, and husband Roger L. Vredenburg and Nanci Lynn Smith of Philmont and husband Andrew J. Smith; grandmother of 12; great-grandmother of 27 and great-great-grandmother of two. She was predeceased by two daughters, Sharon Lee Lorie and Marcelle Vivian Gray.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 13, 11 a.m. at 35 Summit Street, Philmont. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are requested to be sent to Pine Haven Nursing Home, P.O. Box 785, 201 Main Street, Philmont 12565, ATTN: Activity Department.

Neal L. Curran (1930 – 2015)

HUDSON—Neal L. Curran, 84, of Stuyvesant Falls, formerly of West Warwick, RI, passed away Thursday, May 28, 2015 at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Born September 28, 1930 in Nazareth, PA, he was the son of the late Leo L. and Malinda F. Curran.

He served as a staff/sergeant in the U.S. Marines from 1948 to 1952. He was formerly employed as plant manager at the Mellenville Warp Knit and vice president at Futura Fabrics in Hazelton, PA.

Mr. Curran was a: former member of Mt. Pleasant Church, where he was senior warden and treasurer; a member of the Columbia Golf and Country Club and its Board of Trustees; a member and vice-president of the Hudson Lions Club; a member of the Hudson Elks Lodge, the Hudson Valley Industrial Management Club and Becraft Fire Company #2.

He served 10 years as scoutmaster of the Boy Scouts of America Troop 104 and served as master of Aquila Lodge #700 F & AM. He served five years as chairman of Industrial Fund Drives for the Hudson Area Community Chest.

Mr. Curran is survived by: daughters, Carole Anne Curran of Stuyvesant Falls and Nancy Curran of Cropseyville; two brothers, Henry of Hudson and Leo of Churchtown.

He was predeceased by his wife, Darlene (Muscavage) Curran and two sisters, Helen Cohn and Arlene Todd.

There will be no calling hours. Interment will be in Sky View Memorial Park in Tamaqua, PA.

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

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Anthony Occhibove (1931 – 2015)

LIVINGSTON—Anthony Occhibove, 84, a lifelong Hudsonian, died peacefully with his family at his side, Thursday, May 28, 2015 at Livingston Hills Nursing Home. Born February 16, 1931 in Hudson, he was the son of the late Antonio and Delia (Zailkas) Occhibove.

He attended St. Mary’s Academy, and was a devoted communicant of St. Mary’s Church. He served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War and received the Purple Heart for injuries in battle and he also received the Conspicuous Service Cross.

Mr. Occhibove was a life member of Washington Hose Company #3 in Hudson, was a member of American Legion Post #184, VFW Post #1314 in Hudson, and the Disabled American Veterans.

Mr. Occhibove worked for Textile By Products in Hudson, and as a security guard at Olana State Historic Site and the Martin VanBuren State Historic Site before his retirement.

He is survived by: his brother, Robert Occhibove of Hudson; sisters, Ann Curcio of Mays Landing, NJ, Shirley Smith of Great Barrington, MA, Kathleen Wildey of Greenport; many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by sisters, Mary and Rita Occhibove.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday, June 2, 1 p.m. at St. Mary’s/ Holy Trinity Parish, 429 East Allen Street, Hudson with Fr. Winston Bath officiating. Burial will follow in Cedar Park Cemetery. There are no calling hours. Arrangements are with the Sacco-McDonald-Valenti Funeral Home, 700 Town Hall Drive, Greenport.

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Dorothy A. McVeigh (1922 – 2015)

HUDSON—Dorothy A. McVeigh, 93, of Valatie died Friday, May 29, 2015 at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Born April 22, 1922 in Brooklyn, she was the daughter of the late John Joseph and Mary Anastasia (Daly) Heffernan. Mrs. McVeigh retired as a legal secretary from the law firm of Brauner, Baron et al in New York City. She was a communicant of St. John the Baptist Church in Valatie and a member of St John’s Elves’ and St. John’s Bearevement Committee. She was an avid reader and enjoyed traveling.

She is survived by: two sons, Andrew Peter McVeigh of Valatie and John Joseph McVeigh of Butler, MD; four grandchildren, Doreen M. McVeigh, Caitlin Reyna, Andrew Peter McVeigh, Sean Patrick McVeigh and a great-grandson, Jack Reyna.

She was predeceased by her siblings, Dr. Miriam Heffernan, First Lieutenant John Joseph Heffernan, the Reverend John Joseph Heffernan, Sister Mary Jean, OP, (Anne Heffernan) and her loving partner, Maurice O’Brien. She was also a loving friend of the surviving members of the O’Brien Family.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Wednesday, June 3, 11 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Church, Route 9, Valatie with the Reverend George Fleming officiating.

Burial will follow in St. John the Baptist Cemetery. Calling hours will be Tuesday, June 2 from 4 to 8:30 p.m. at the Raymond E. Bond Funeral Home, 1015 Kinderhook Street, Valatie.

Rudy J. Vyhnanek (1946 – 2015)

LATANA, FL—Rudy J. Vyhnanek 68, of Lantana, FL, died suddenly May 21, 2015.

He was born in Hudson, October 5, 1946, the son of Rudolph and Julia Rauscher Vyhnanek of Mellenville.

He graduated from Ockawamick Central School in 1964, and received an associate’s degree in computer programming from Chamberlayne Junior College in Boston and a bachelor of science degree in systems analysis from Barry University in Miami, FL.

Mr. Vyhnanek served in the U.S. Army Security Agency in Europe during the Vietnam era and worked for RCA on the AUTEC project on Andros Island in the Bahamas before moving to Lantana, Florida in 1974.

He retired from a 30-year-long career as a senior systems analyst for the South Florida Water Management District, specializing in Unix programming.

Mr. Vyhnanek was an avid collector of memorabilia, most especially, coins, as well as a prolific photographer. He loved exotic foods, gardening and his many pets over the years.

He is survived and was loved by his brother, John Vyhnanek and his wife Bess of Cambridge, MA; his grandson, Derek Slife of Lantana, FL, and many cousins. He was predeceased by his daughter, Kim.

Funeral services to be held graveside, Thursday June 4, 11a.m. at Cedar Park Cemetery in Hudson. Deacon Charles O’Neill will offer committal prayers.

There are no calling hours.

Arrangements are with the Sacco-McDonald-Valenti Funeral Home, 700 Town Hall Drive, Greenport.

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