OBITUARIES: Stephenson, Reis, Pottenburgh

Christine G. Stephenson (1946 – 2016)

ALBANY—Christine Gettman Stephenson passed away peacefully at the Albany Medical Center surrounded by the sounds of opera September 6, 2016, after a short illness.

She has left a tremendous void in the hearts of all who knew her.

Born December 3, 1946, she was the only child of Theodore “Ted” Gettman and Ruth (Childs) Gettman. She spent her early years in Syracuse and Latham. She graduated from Hartwick College in 1968.

Ms. Stephenson, “Diva,” was a trained opera singer and performed with the San Francisco Opera before moving to New York City and continuing her career there. She performed in many operas, and was a vocal coach to many aspiring singers. She also worked as a legal assistant and office manager for Stone & Stone in New York; was an assistant to the chairman of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; worked as an executive assistant to the president of IFS International and was an executive administrative assistant with the Carrier Corporation. She retired from COR Real Estate Developers in 2014.

Ms. Stephenson is survived by: her daughter, Terrilyn Cohn; a grandson, Tyler, and a granddaughter, Aliyah. “Grandma Diva was very special to these youngsters.” She is survived by a cousin, Garth (Diane); several other cousins and many good friends.

Ms. Stephenson moved to North Chatham after her retirement. At the time of her death she was on the library board of the North Chatham Free Library. This small hamlet opened its arms to her, and she became an integral part of this community. She also worked part-time at Pearson Professional Center in Albany, and was a first reader at the Christian Science Church in Delmar.

Services will be held Saturday, September 10, 11 a.m. at the French, Gifford, Preiter and Blasl Funeral Home, 25 Railroad Avenue, Chatham. A calling hour precedes the service from 10 to 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ms. Stephenson’s name may be made to the North Chatham Free Library, 4287 Route 203, North Chatham 12132.

Ernest Reis (1944 – 2016)

ALBANY—Ernest Reis passed away September 8, 2016 at St. Peter’s Community Hospice after a long battle with cancer. He was born November 17, 1944 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida to Nora and Ernest Reis (deceased).

Shortly thereafter he and his family relocated to Ossining, where he lived until moving to Chatham in 1976.

He is survived by: his wife of 49 years, Beatrice Reis; his daughters, Erin Costa and Lindsey Casanova (Aaron); grandchildren, Travis and Ariana Costa and Nora Casanova; a sister, Barbara Campisi and his mother, Nora Reis both of Ossining.

In the 1960s he served in the Air Force as a weatherman and spent some time in Turkey. After his discharge in Massachusetts he attended and graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a masters in education. At the University of Massachusetts he became involved with reform groups to change the way juvenile delinquents were treated which included several programs that gained national recognition.

In the 70s several of the leaders from U Mass came to New York and Mr. Reis followed subsequently working for the NYS Division for Youth. After that he worked for over 10 years with employment and training programs in Columbia, Greene and Orange counties.

In the 90s Mr. Reis became a full-time substitute teacher followed by working as a GED prep teacher for RCG BOCES at the Columbia County Jail. He retired from there in 2006 but continued to substitute teach for Chatham, Ichabod Crane, and Taconic Hills schools. He also became involved in Democratic politics and found himself as town chair which he continued to be involved in until his death.

He was an avid supporter of the arts and very involved in the community of Chatham where he had lived for 40 years.

A memorial service will be held Monday, September 12, 11 a.m. from the Wenk Funeral Home, 21 Payn Avenue, Chatham. Calling hours will be Sunday, September 11, 5 to 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Chatham Democrats, P.O. Box 138, Chatham 12037; the Crellin Park Recreation Program or the Community Garden, ATTN: Chatham Town Clerk, 488 State Route 295, Chatham 12037; or a charity of one’s choice. To send online condolences visit

Thomas J. Pottenburgh (1932 – 2016)

GLENCO MILLS—Thomas J. Pottenburgh, 83, of Glenco Mills died Friday, September 9 at his residence in the arms of his loving family.

Born December 20, 1932 in Rhinebeck, he was the son of John and Estella (Mulvaney) Pottenburgh.

He graduated from Rhinebeck High School in the class of 1950, where he was an outstanding athlete. His athletic talents earned him a full basketball scholarship to Siena College. While attending Siena, he was the basketball team’s starting center for three years. He also starred in an NBA exhibition game in which he scored 18 of the team’s 54 points defeating the number 1 ranked Seton Hall. The win led to a number 11 national ranking for Siena.

In 1955 Mr. Pottenburgh was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals, but in his own words “after a disappointing final year at Siena, he did not call them, nor did they call him.” He also played baseball at Siena for one year. He pitched a complete game but he lost due to an easy pop fly collision with Fr. Peter Young, and pitched relief twice facing a total of six batters, allowing all six on base either by a walk or being hit by a pitch.

Upon graduation from Siena College “right behind the Valedictorian” (seated on stage at graduation), he went on to graduate from Fordham Graduate School of Social Work in 1957. He was appointed as the first director of the Albany County Detention Center, then went to work in the psychiatric clinic at the LaSalle School for boys in Albany. In 1962, Mr. Pottenburgh was hired by the NYS Division for Youth, a new agency designed for experimental programs to help troubled youth. His commitment to the enhancement of youth programs led him to be assistant superintendent of a Forestry Camp, director of several group homes throughout the Capital District, and eventually director of Brookwood Secure Youth Center in Claverack, from where he retired in 1991.

While serving as director of Brookwood, Mr. Pottenburgh was instrumental in advancements and successful procedures pertaining to restraint and confinement, reducing escapes and assaults, social work training and education, and peer cooperation. His work identified Brookwood Facility as one of the best in the Youth Agency.

Upon retirement, he finally got to enjoy his love of golf, gardening and landscaping his home.

Mr. Pottenburgh was also a life-member of the Federation of Polish Sportsmen.

He was predeceased by his wife of 52 years, Jean Carol Conery. In 2009, Mr. Pottenburgh married her cousin, Mary Ellen White.

In addition to his wife, Mary Ellen, he is survived by: his six children, Deborah Green of Buffalo, Catherine of Cario, Thomas (Kim) of Clifton Park, Joseph of Glenco Mills, Gregory (Deborah) of Ghent and Kelly Reinckens (David) of Glenco Mills. Mr. Pottenburgh also had 20 grandchildren who brought much joy to his later years.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday, September 14, 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church in Hudson. Interment will be in Albany Rural Cemetery. Visitation hours at the Bates & Anderson—Redmond & Keeler Funeral Home, 110 Green Street, Hudson will be September 13 from 4 to 8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Mr. Pottenburgh’s name may be made to “Saints Alive” c/o Siena College, 515 Loudon Road, Loudonville 12211.

Comments are closed.