OBITUARIES: Avenia, Schmidt, Marzahl, Acciani, Ruscillo, Degnen, Hendler

John S. Avenia (1928 – 2019)

HILLSDALE—John Salvo Avenia, 90, a resident of Hillsdale, passed away peacefully March 5, 2019.

He was born November 9, 1928 in Winsted, CT, to Angelo Avenia and Lillian Marks Avenia.

He was predeceased by both his parents and his brother, George Avenia.

Mr. Avenia was married to Ruth Wheeler Avenia for 59 years. They had three children, John Avenia, Jr., and his wife Margaret Bower Avenia of Hillsdale, Wendy Matte and her husband Bob Matte of South Carolina and Carey Avenia of Pennsylvania.

In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Avenia is survived by his three beloved grandchildren, Alexander Matte, Olivia Matte and Emma Avenia.

He spent three years in the Army stationed in Korea serving his country during the Korean War.

After returning home from the Army, he went to work expanding the Hillsdale Supermarket, a second-generation business. With the help of his family, he was able to enjoy the growth of his business and his community.

Because of his love of fishing, Mr. Avenia and his wife enjoyed many summers on Lake George and winters in Mexico spending time with family and friends.

Friends are invited and may call at the Peck and Peck Funeral Home, 8063 State Route 22, Copake, Sunday, March 17, 2019 from 2 to 4 p.m. Private interment will take place Monday, March 18 at the Riverside Cemetery in North Egremomt, MA.

In lieu of flowers, memorial offerings may be made to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children.

Hermann K. Schmidt (1935 – 2019)

VALATIE—Hermann Karl Schmidt died March 10 surrounded by his family after a short and courageous battle with brain cancer at the age of 83.

He was born September 19, 1935 in Nurnberg (Nuremberg), Germany. During his youth he played semi-professional soccer in Germany, traveled Europe on bicycle, was a member of the German Ski patrol, Boy Scouts, and was certified in explosives.

At the age of 21, he immigrated to the United States and shortly after started his business, Hermann K. Schmidt Heating Air Conditioning and Plumbing, with his best friend Fritz Foster. He worked there up until a couple of months ago.

Mr. Schmidt married the love his life, Arlene Marie Schmidt in 1964. Together they raised three children and enjoyed spending time together. They loved to travel, especially to Germany, Maine, South Carolina and Florida.

Mr. Schmidt loved his career and traveling, but nothing was more important than his family. He enjoyed going to his grandchildren’s games and recitals. Most weekends one could find him on ballfield, basketball court or enjoying a recital. He also volunteered with the Boy Scouts, Little League, Ski Club, and helped start the Chatham Soccer Club. The other things he enjoyed doing were telling stories and talking politics.

Mr. Schmidt was predeceased by his wife, Arlene (Adams). He is survived by: his son, Michael (Lisa Lewis); daughter, Heidi (Michael) Cottini and his son, Erich (Michelle); beloved grandchildren, Amy, Adam, Alex, Ryan and Savannah; his brothers, Norbert and Bernhardt; his sister, Christa; his niece, Laurie Layton and her son Tanner; other nieces and a nephew.

Calling hours will be held Thursday, March 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Raymond E. Bond Funeral Home, 1015 Kinderhook Street, Valatie. A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 16, 5 p.m. at the West Ghent Reformed Church. In lieu of flowers the family request donations be made to Community Hospice of Columbia / Greene or to a charity of one’s choosing.

Ursula Zahn Marzahl

GREENPORT—Ursula Zahn Marzahl of Greenport passed away peacefully at home following a short illness, February 27, 2019.

She is survived by her beloved husband, children, grandchildren, great-grandchild, sisters, brothers and many friends. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

At her request, graveside services were conducted March 2, 2019 at Cedar Park Cemetery.

Contributions in her memory made be made to Community Hospice of Columbia / Greene, Catskill.

Miriam H. Acciani (1928 – 2019)

CHATHAM—Miriam Harvey Acciani passed away at home March 10, 2019 just 11 days shy of her 91st birthday.

Born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to Ethel Hay and Francesco Ernesto Tutino, her high school years were spent in Vermont at St. Johnsbury Academy. She graduated with a BA in 1949 from St. Lawrence University in Canton.

After getting her teaching certificate she worked at a kindergarten in New Hyde Park on Long Island before marrying Dr. Alfonse Acciani and moving to Columbia County to open his Hudson dental practice and raise three children, Susan, Stephen and David.

Mrs. Acciani was instrumental in helping to start Family Survival, and volunteered her time with various other local organizations such as Meals on Wheels, as a staff member on the region’s Girl Scout council and was a leader for years, and did conflict mediation with Common Cause. She served two decades on the board of The Payn Home in Chatham and was their representative to the NYS Legislature when the state tried to adapt regulations to a not-for-profit retirement residence. She loved gardening and bird watching, but spent most of her free time reading, and was a founding member of her Book Group that has met monthly since 1979.

Besides her children, she is survived by four grandchildren, Emma, Maria, Anna and Alice and her nieces and nephews who called her “Aunt Mim.” In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her sister, Doris Hay Miller.

Donations in Mrs. Acciani’s memory may be made to The Friends of Chatham Public Library, Woodbridge Avenue in Chatham, or The Chatham Area Silent Pantry in the Tracy Memorial building.

A service will be held at the First Reformed Church on Park Row, Chatham, Saturday, March 16, 11:30 a.m. with the Reverend Ned Wight officiating. Interment immediately follows in the Ghent Union Cemetery. Arrangements are with the Wenk Funeral Home, 21 Payn Avenue, Chatham. For online condolences visit

Daniel J. Ruscillo (1935 – 2019)

HUDSON—Daniel J. Ruscillo, 83, of Greenport died Saturday, March 9, 2019 at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Born July 28, 1935 in Corona, he was the son of Donato and Mary (Tucci) Ruscillo.

He was a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. His love for his family was beyond measure. He owned United Auto Glass in Corona prior to moving to Columbia County where he was proprietor of County Auto Glass on Worth Avenue in Hudson. Mr. Ruscillo also worked at the Livingston and Greenport transfer stations. He loved his German Shepherds, cats, the New York Mets, and Sunday pasta and meatball dinners.

He leaves to cherish his memory: his beloved wife of 52 years, Anita (Pesale) Ruscillo; children, Rosemary, Maryann, Roxanne, Johnny and Dana; nine grandchildren, Michele, Danny, Samantha, Jennifer, Robert, Amanita, Azena, John, and Gianna; 10 great-grandchildren; a brother, John Ruscillo; several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services are Wednesday March 13, 11 a.m. from the Mount Pleasant Reformed Church in Greenport. Interment will be in the church cemetery.

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

John Degnen (1920 – 2019)

PHILMONT—John Raymond Degnen, 98, of Philmont, formerly of Taghkanic, passed away Monday, March 11, 2019.

Born June 24, 1920 in Lynbrook, he was the son of Edward and Elizabeth (Owens) Degnen.

Mr. Degnen was a police officer in Lynbrook before moving to West Coxsackie in 1946. He resided with his family in West Coxsackie until 1962 when he moved to Copake Falls. In 1966 he went to work for the Taconic State Parks Commission and soon after became a NYS Parks patrolman. He retired from in 1985. Mr. Degnen also proudly served as a volunteer fireman. He resided on Route 82 in West Taghkanic from 1984 until 2013 when he became a resident of Pine Haven Nursing Home.

He is survived by: his children, John (Donna) Degnen, Jr., J. Dennis (Lucy) Degnen, Robert (Isabel V. Torres de la Rosa) Degnen, Gregory (Jodi) Degnen, Maureen (Wayne) Hiserodt, and Ann (Cliff) Albright; 13 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Mr. Degnen was predeceased by his wife of 72 years, Irene Reaves (a/k/a Judy Degnen), and his brother, Edward (Irma) Degnen.

Visitation hours at the Bates & Anderson-Redmond & Keeler Funeral Home, 110 Green Street, Hudson are Thursday, March 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, March 15, 10:30 a.m. from Holy Trinity / St. Mary’s Parish in Hudson. Interment will be in Cedar Park Cemetery.

Hilda Hendler (1929 – 2019)

HUDSON—Hilda Hendler, 89, died March 8, 2019.

She was born August 19, 1929 to Ignaz and Maria Doerfler in Vienna. She grew up during World War II.

She married David A. Hendler in a civil ceremony February 6 followed by a religious ceremony at Vienna’s famed St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church February 11, 1948.

On July 23, 1948 Mr. Hendler received orders to return to the United States. They were excited to begin their life together in America along with their first born Kathleen.

They arrived in Hudson, and until Mr. Hendler’s tragic death March 8, 1975, together they raised five children, Kathleen, Michael (deceased), Heide, Suzanne and Lisa and Mrs. Hendler’s sister, Ilse upon her mother’s death in 1956.

Mrs. Hendler’s passion in life was dance and theater. She studied dance at the Rudi Fraunzl Studio, the Conservatory for Music and Dance, and the State Academy of Performing Arts Vienna, Austria. She also studied dance therapy, therapeutic movement, aerobic dance, modern dance and jazz at SUNY at New Paltz, Skidmore College, Russell Sage, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Louis Falco Company of NYC, College of St. Rose and Columbia-Greene Community College. She was a member and soloist with the Lilly Brauneis Classical Dance Company, Vienna.

She founded and operated the Hudson Dance Studio. She was an instructor in dance and movement exploration for the developmentally disabled and handicapped. Her teaching experience included designing and implementing dance programs for clients of C-GCC Community Residence and Mental Health Center; designed and implemented courses in “creative expression” in the arts, music, dance and painting. She set up a creative movement program for 100 developmentally handicapped adults. In addition, she taught dance and arts at St. Mary’s Elementary School.

In 1983 Mrs. Hendler was awarded a bachelor’s degree in psychology from SUNY, New Paltz, and in 1979 an AAS in social science from Columbia-Greene Community College. Following 16 years of dedicated service, she retired in 2001 from C-GCC where she served as assistant director for employability development, Office of Employment and Training.

During her life-time, she sat on the Boards of Directors of Columbia Council on the Arts, American Cancer Society, Columbia County Chapter of the NYS Association for Retarded Children, Dance Educators of America, Columbia County Historical Society and chaired numerous local charity fundraisers.

Mrs. Hendler was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Hudson, and at the time of her death a member of the Catholic Daughters of America, Council 248.

In addition to her four surviving children and sister, Mrs. Hender leaves: her grandchildren, Rachael and Jennifer Harvender, David Hendler, Stephanie Moore; great-grandchildren, Logan Pollard, Jake Moore, Victoria and Alexander Hendler; niece, Jacqueline Lindblad; sons-in-law, Ronald Minor (Kathy), Ralph Tiano (Suzanne) and Greg Miller (Heide); granddaughter-in-law Hunchung Hendler.

A wake takes place Friday, March 15, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Bates & Anderson – Redmond & Keeler Funeral Home, 110 Green Street, Hudson. The funeral is Saturday, March 16, 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Hudson. A complete obituary appears at

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