OBITUARIES: Blackburn, Kirchner, Herron, Budelman

DeGuerre A. Blackburn (1943 – 2019)

KINDERHOOK—DeGuerre Averell Blackburn, 75, passed away at her home in Kinderhook, Friday, June 21, 2019.

She was born August 28, 1943 to Mary Averell and Walter Campbell on Long Island. She graduated from Ichabod Crane High School and Wells College. She received a masters degree in social work from Simmons College.

In 1986 she founded VIDA (Voice for International Development and Adoption), an International and Domestic Adoption Agency, a not for profit child placing agency. VIDA placed children from South America, Asia and Eastern Europe with families in the United States and many other countries. Mrs. Blackburn was passionate about finding homes for children with special needs and advocated for children in other countries to come to the United States for medical treatment, also known as the Health for Life program; after the earthquake in Haiti she assisted in bringing 12 injured children to the U.S. for medical treatment. She worked with a humanitarian organization in Guatemala to raise funds in order to provide education for girls between the ages of 5 to 25. She created VIDA’s Eco Health Program to support the environment and all living creatures. She received the Maida Solomon Award in Social Work from Simmons College and the 2006 South Carolina Angel in Adoption Award.

For 10 years prior to opening VIDA, Mrs. Blackburn was in private practice in Columbia County. She was the director of a family and child counseling service, and also worked for the Veteran’s Administration with patients who had psychiatric disorders and those who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

She married Roderic H. Blackburn in 1965. Shortly afterward, the couple lived for two years in Kenya, East Africa, where Mr. Blackburn worked as an anthropologist among the Okiek tribe and Mrs. Blackburn served as a field assistant, collecting folk tales for cross-cultural comparisons.

Family and friends will forever remember her for her unconditional generosity. She rescued countless dogs, cats, and wayward souls, and gave them love and shelter in her home. She hosted elegant dinners and parties, and could communicate with almost anyone on any level. She was deeply committed to innumerable social and political causes.

Mrs. Blackburn is survived by: Roderic, to whom she was married for 53 years; her son, Logan; her daughter, Mara and her granddaughter, Aspen.

A Celebration of Mrs. Blackburn’s Life will be held at the home of Will Swift and Kevin Jacobs in Valatie, Saturday, July 13, 2019 from 4 to 6 p.m. Friends, colleagues and adoptive families who wish to attend should RSVP via email to .

Cheryl Kirchner (1956 – 2019)

CHATHAM—Cheryl Kirchner passed away June 26, 2019.

She is survived by her brother, Richard Zahac and sister, Karen Zahac.

Family received friends Sunday, June 30 at the French, Gifford, Preiter and Blasl Funeral Home, 25 Railroad Avenue, Chatham. Interment will be at a later date. Condolences may be conveyed at

Robert Herron (1927 – 2019)

AUSTERLITZ—Known by many as the “Mayor of Austerlitz,” Robert “Bob” Herron of Austerlitz died Saturday, June 29, 2019 at the age of 91. A lifelong resident of Austerlitz and well-known expert on American antiques, auctioneer and local philanthropist, Mr. Herron was born August 3, 1927 to Mary Varney—a descendant of an old New England family which settled in Austerlitz by the end of the 18th century—and William C. Herron, whose family moved to Austerlitz in the mid-19th century.

A veteran of the U.S. Navy who later attended the University of Denver, Mr. Herron began collecting early American furniture as a young boy and later ran a highly-successful auction house. One of the premier auctioneers in New England in 1997, the New York Times wrote that Mr. Herron had found “one of the few major discoveries of the year”—an important collection of early American furniture which brought antique dealers and connoisseurs from across the country to the small hamlet of Austerlitz.

Continuing his family’s long tradition of serving the community and fostering its civic life, Mr. Herron and his good friend, Richard Mugler, Jr., were responsible for the preservation of the local schoolhouse, the Austerlitz Church, a number of houses in the hamlet and the establishment of the Austerlitz Historical Society. A generous benefactor, he donated both funds and land to the historical society, which now boasts a collection of late 18th and early 19th century buildings and a local history collection.

In 1987, the New York Times reported on the restoration of his early house, along with a number of other media outlets.

Mr. Herron also made substantial donations to community organizations, most recently to the Columbia Land Conservancy and for the building of the hamlet’s new firehouse.

Known for his keen eye, “sharp as a tack” mind, and unfailing wit up to his death, he will be missed by his family, friends, neighbors and colleagues and the many volunteers he recruited in his lifelong quest to preserve the best of this country’s and Columbia County’s history.

He was preceded in death by his brother, William Lee Herron (1922-2007), and is survived by his nieces, Ruth Horak, Janet DeMonaco, Janet’s husband Louis, and his nephew William Jr.’s widow, Cheryl.

A memorial service will be held on the grounds of the Austerlitz Historical Society, at a time to be determined this summer. For further information check the historical society’s website or call 518-392-0062.

Arrangements are with the Wenk Funeral Home, 21 Payn Avenue, Chatham. Send online condolences at

John F. Budelman (1946 – 2019)

STOKPORT—John F. Budelman, 72, of Stockport passed away Monday June 24, 2019.

Born December 22, 1946 in Rockville Centre, he was the son of Francis X. and Ann (Edgley) Budelman. He was raised in Baldwin and attended St. John Prep in Brooklyn, and graduated from St. John’s University in 1968.

Mr. Budelman began a career in finance, then enlisted in the United States Marine Corp in 1969 serving in Vietnam. He moved to Columbia County in the mid-1970s. He loved hunting and golf, and was always a voracious reader and devotee of challenging crossword puzzles.

Mr. Budelman was employed by the KAZ Corporation for more than 30 years, rising to the position of plant manager, from which he retired in 2008.

He is survived by: his wife, Dawn (Szepessy) Budelman; his six siblings and their spouses, Sue and Charles Dillhoff of Hudson, Francis X. Budelman, Jr., of Silver Spring, MD, Mary and Charles McPeake of Hyde Park, Peter and Barbara Budelman of Ghent, Louise and Thomas Budelman of Long Beach, and Joan and Richard Budelman of Rockville Centre; his much loved nieces, Kathleen Dady, Jennifer LaGrassa, Megan Rodriguez, Cristin McPeake-Cardella, Kerri Budelman, Jessica Sniffen, Erin Nguelie, Ashley Budelman, Courtney Budelman, and his dear nephew, Brandon Budelman.

A celebration of Mr. Budelman’s life will be held Tuesday, July 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Bates & Anderson-Redmond & Keeler Funeral Home, 110 Green Street, Hudson. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Mr. Budelman’s name may be made to a charity of choice. Visit to leave an online message for his family.

Comments are closed.