OBITUARIES: Rockefeller, Decker, Havelka, Horkan, Varriale, Ellers

Joanne Rockefeller (1963 – 2019)

HUDSON—Joanne Rockefeller, 55, of Hudson passed away November 8, 2019 at Columbia Memorial Hospital surrounded by her children and family.

She was born December 27, 1963 in Hudson to the late Charles and Doris Wright.

She enjoyed watching the Food Network, and had a passion for cleaning. Her greatest joy in life was her family and grandchildren.

Ms. Rockefeller is survived by: her three devoted children, Ashley Rockefeller, Michael Rockefeller and Brittany Mann; her five grandchildren, Dashaun, Logan, Trevon, Tiana and Alexys; many brothers, sisters and extended family.

In addition to her parents she was predeceased by her longtime companion, Bruce Mann.

Graveside services will take place in Cedar Park Cemetery November 18, 2019 at 11 a.m.

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

Visit to leave condolences.

Susan E. Decker (1953 – 2019)

GHENT—Susan E. (Kitsock) Decker, 66, of Ghent, passed away November 8, 2019.

She was born in Hudson, May 12, 1953 to Douglas and Patricia (Witko) Kitsock.

Mrs. Decker was a registered nurse. She worked for Columbia Memorial Hospital before she went to the Columbia County Health Department where she worked for the past 20 years. She enjoyed reading, trips to Maine, her dogs, and above all else her grandchildren. Being the oldest of six children, she had immeasurable love and bond with her sisters and brothers. She will be remembered for being deeply-devoted to her family, children and grandchildren.

She is survived by: her husband, Paul Decker; her children, Devin (Alex) Keyser, Justin Decker and Sara Decker; three grandchildren, Addisyn Keyser, Lily Laverack and Camdyn Keyser; her four siblings, Sandra Bouchard, Sharyn Finck, Douglas Kitsock, Jr. and Stacy O’Neill; many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

In addition to her parents, Mrs. Decker was predeceased by her brother, Michael Kitsock.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at noon from Bates & Anderson – Redmond & Keeler Funeral Home, 110 Green Street, Hudson. Interment will follow in Mellenville Cemetery. Visitation will begin Wednesday at 10 a.m. from the funeral home.

Catherine P. Havelka (1941 – 2019)

HUDSON—Catherine P. Havelka, 78, of Niverville died Friday, November 8, 2019 at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Born March 18, 1941 in Des Moines, IA, she was the daughter the late Michael and Catharine (Morris) Polich.

She was a Maryknoll nun for a time before working for Paramount Pictures in New York City and Cecilware Corporation in Queens. She was a communicant of St. John the Baptist Church in Valatie and was in charge of the lector ministry for many years, also serving as head lector and Eucharist minister for the homebound. She taught catechism for the religious education program for a time and along with her husband were foster parents.

She is survived by: her husband of 35 years, Robert Havelka; a sister, Mary Welter (Jerome “Dutch”) of Johnston, IA; two brothers, Anthony Polich (Connie) of West Des Moines, IA, and Charles Polich of Des Moines, IA; several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and -nephews. She was predeceased by her brothers, the Reverend James Polich, Michael Polich and her sister, Honore “Honey” Sinnott.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday, November 14, 2019, 11 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Church, Valatie with the Reverend George Fleming officiating. Burial will be held at St. John’s Cemetery at a later date. Calling hours will be Wednesday, November 13, 2019 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Raymond E. Bond Funeral Home, 1015 Kinderhook Street, Valatie.

Jean M. Horkan (1932 – 2019)

PHILMONT—Jean Marie Horkan passed away peacefully November 9, 2019 at Pine Haven Nursing Home with family by her side.

She was born at home in Barrytown, August 17, 1932 to Edward and Irene Lewis, one of 11 children.

She attended Red Hook schools where she met her future husband, James J. Horkan. They were married in September 1950 and together raised six children.

Mrs. Horkan operated a HRPC family care home with 10 residents known as “The Ladies” for more than 30 years. She was awarded the 1988 certificate for outstanding dedicated service HRPC family care. A lover of animals, she adopted many stray dogs and cats and on occasion welcomed a raccoon and opossum to eat cat food on her back porch.

Besides her parents, she was predeceased by four sisters; three brothers; her husband, James, Jr. and a son, James, III. She is survived by: her son, Michael J. Horkan; daughters, Patricia (Svende) Beecher, Madeline Whittaker, Theresa Horkan and Jean Horkan; nine grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; brother, Thomas (Norma) Lewis and sisters, Joyce (Richard) Cole and Barbara Lewis.

Family will receive friends Thursday, November 14 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the French, Gifford, Preiter and Blasl Funeral Home, 25 Railroad Avenue, Chatham. Also Thursday, a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Saint James Church, 11 a.m. with interment to follow at St. John’s Cemetery in Red Hook. Memorials in Mrs. Horkan’s name may be made to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society. For directions or to convey condolences visit

Saundra J. Varriale (1964 – 2019)

CLAVERACK—Saundra “Sandy” Jeanne Varriale, 55, of Claverack passed away in the comfort of her own home, Saturday, November 9, 2019 surrounded by her loved ones after a courageous battle with cancer.

She was born in Hudson, July 17, 1964 to James R. and Hazel Warfield. She was the elder of two. In 1993 she married David Varriale, and together they started a family of their own.

She is survived, and will be deeply missed by: her husband, David; daughters, Lauren and Brittany Varriale; mother, Hazel Warfield; brother, James D. Warfield and nephew, Cameron Warfield. She was predeceased by her father, James R. Warfield.

Living her entire life in Columbia County, Mrs. Varriale was raised in Hudson and graduated from Hudson High School in 1982. She eventually moved to Claverack in 2005, where she continued to raise her two daughters with her husband.

She was the epitome of an outstanding caregiver. While in high school, she enjoyed taking care of residents as a nurse’s aide at Eden Park Nursing Home. After graduation she became a patient care assistant at Columbia Memorial Hospital. She provided dedicated, compassionate care to her patients for 13 years. After her daughters were born, she devoted her time to raising them, as they were the center of her world. She returned to caring for people in the community by working as a private duty home health aide.

Mrs. Varriale loved the ocean, especially Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. She and her family visited there every summer. Recently, her new favorite place became Lake Placid because of the serene views that the lake and mountains had to offer. She had a passion for planting and caring for her flowers, especially her lilacs. After gardening season was complete, she loved baking and decorating her home for the holidays. Her family often called her “Miss QVC” because she had a knack for finding the best deals on QVC. Sandy enjoyed watching Halloween and Hallmark Christmas movies with her family, and had a sweet tooth. Every winter she looked forward to an annual NYC holiday trip, where she would drink peppermint mocha lattes and watch the Rockettes dance at Radio City Music Hall.

Throughout the course of her life, she enjoyed spending as much time as possible with her close friends and family. Her time was also devoted to her animals over the years, whom she spoiled and adored. She will be remembered as a wonderful friend, daughter, sister, aunt, wife and sweet and loving mother.

Friends and family are invited to call at the Bates & Anderson-Redmond & Keeler Funeral Home, 110 Green Street, Hudson, Friday November 15 from 4 to 8 p.m. Funeral services and interment will be private.

Her family extends gratitude to St. Peter’s Oncology staff and the staff of Columbia-Greene Community Hospice.

Kenneth W. Ellers (1941 -2019)

SCHODACK LANDING—Kenneth W. Ellers, 78, of Schodack Landing died Sunday, November 10, 2019 at his home.

Born February 8, 1941 in Albany, he was the son of the late Otto and Mae (Luther) Ellers.

Mr. Ellers worked at Vermeer for many years and was a farmer and owner of Gibson Farms in Schodack Landing. He also enjoyed watching NASCAR.

He is survived by: three children, Michael Ellers and Jennifer Ellers (Jeffrey) both of Schodack Landing, Pamela Bush (Nathan) of Newcomb; a brother, Richard Ellers of Schodack Landing; three grandchildren, Dylan, Zachary and Zoe Ellers; his nephew, Terry Ellers of Schodack Landing and a brother-in-law, John Hall of East Greenbush.

He was predeceased by his wife, Barbara (Kolonkowski) Ellers and his sister, Patricia Hall.

Graveside services will be private for the family at Woodlawn Cemetery in Valatie with Nick Becker officiating. There will be no calling hours. Memorial contributions may be made to the Valatie Rescue Squad, PO Box 242, Valatie 12184. Arrangements are with the Raymond E. Bond Funeral Home, 1015 Kinderhook Street, Valatie.

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