Michael Ryan, 58, writer, filmmaker, playwright

HUDSON–A memorial service is Saturday for East Taghkanic resident Michael Ryan, writer, filmmaker, and playwright, who died July 19 at New York University Hospital due to complications from a hip injury after a long battle with liver disease. He was 58.

A Boston native who studied at Boston College High School and majored in classics at Harvard, where he was an editor of the Harvard Crimson and president of the Signet Society, Mr. Ryan became a successful journalist and editor who also made an acclaimed documentary film, Eagle Scout: The Story of Henry Nicols, which ran on HBO in 1995.

After college Mr. Ryan had freelance articles published in Newsweek (My Turn), Town and Country, and the Boston Herald Magazine as he worked as a reporter at The Boston Phoenix, where he covered the school busing crisis, Boston Magazine where his profile on Boston Mayor Kevin White won a Penny-Missouri Magazine Award, and TV Guide, for which he interviewed President Gerald Ford in the Oval Office. He returned to Boston to write a column for the Boston Herald and later became an editor at Boston Magazine before returning to New York City to work as an editor of the Up Front (news) section of People Magazine.

At People Mr. Ryan handled the coverage of the assassination attempt on President Reagan, and through the magazine’s L.A. correspondents uncovered the fact that John Belushi had been with his drug dealer on the night of his death. In 1984 he traveled to Normandy with World War II Medal of Honor veterans. After a brief stint as an editor at the company’s magazine development department, Mr. Ryan left to work freelance for Parade Magazine, Life Magazine, Smithsonian, the Boston Globe and other publications.

During this period, Mr. Ryan traveled the world covering breaking news in far flung places from Eastern Europe to Russia, Africa, Asia, South Africa, Canada, El Salvador, Newfoundland and the Middle East. He went to Rumania and Germany, where increasing numbers of refugees were escaping from Russian bloc countries prior to the break-up of the Berlin Wall, and to Russia where he covered the coup in 1991. In Antarctica he talked with research scientists, visited the South Pole and covered a dramatic rescue on the ice. He visited the Peace Corps in West Africa and refugee camps in Cambodia, and saw military action in Granada, where he shared a crowded transport in the back of a garbage truck with Charlene Hunter Gault and Philip Jones Griffiths. He visited Jordan and Iraq with Dan Rather and, at the close of the first Gulf War, scored the first interview and attended the Iraqi surrender ceremony with General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. The article ran as a rare double cover in Life Magazine.

He met and wrote stories about a host of cultural icons and political luminaries, including Bill Cosby, Hugh Heffner, Claus Von Bulow, Donald Trump (who entertained him at dinner at his Atlantic City Casino with Michael Jackson), Ambassador Shirley Temple Black, Henry Heimlich, Carl Sagan and others. His work as a contributing editor for Parade magazine allowed him to spotlight the innovative and altruistic contributions of individual scientists, engineers, doctors, designers, people like Mohammed Yunnis, who created micro-lending and founded the Grameen Bank in Bangledash, and Dr. Ben Carson, famous for his heroic surgeries to separate Siamese twins.

Much of his work focused on ordinary people who did extraordinary things, people like the octogenarian Harlem doctor who kept his office open to serve a community in need despite rising crime, or the Idaho community that united to stand up against hate crimes. He won an Easter Seal Award for a story on Camphill Village in Columbia County, and another for a report on an Adirondack guide, Paul Gibaldi, who fought disability from a head injury to achieve his dream.

In 1991 Mr. Ryan began work on the documentary film Eagle Scout: The Story of Henry Nicols, which told the story of a young man who, when he contracted AIDS in his senior year in high school, used his Eagle Scout project to go public with the information to educate his community and the world about the disease and how to prevent its spread. Mr. Ryan received a Daytime Emmy nomination for directing and producing the film, which he made with his wife, Debora Gilbert, and producer director Ellen Stokes. The film received a Cable Ace Award, among others.

He also wrote several plays, including The Empire Builder, which won the first Hudson River Classics Award from the Hudson based group by the same name, and M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction) both of which were produced by the group in Hudson. He wrote two books, Climbing, a gently humorous social satire, and, with Jon Oliver, Lesson One: The ABC’s of Life, about a groundbreaking educational program.

Mr. Ryan, a natural story-teller, brought a humane sensibility tempered by sound journalistic judgment to his projects. His linguistic abilities allowed him to communicate directly with a range of subjects, and he had the knack, prized in foreign correspondents, of being able to hit the ground running and find and produce a story in record time.

In recent years, Mr. Ryan had found a vocation in the Episcopal Church, was involved in outreach work with the homeless and was planning on attending seminary in the fall.

He is survived by two brothers, James (Karin) of Rockville Center, Long Island and Robert (Maryanna) of Scituate, Mass., and seven nieces and nephews.

Two memorial services are planned, one in Hudson at Christ Church Episcopal August 15 at 11 a.m., and one in New York City (details to be announced). Donations in Mr. Ryan’s memory may be sent to the Mary Lea Johnson Richards Research Institute, 232 East 30th Street, New York, NY 10016.



Regina Anne Jaworski, 66, Ancram homemaker


ANCRAM–Regina Anne Jaworski, 66, died Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at her residence.

She was born  September 10, 1942 in Brooklyn, the daughter of the late Stanley and Anne (Koniowka) Ryczek.

A homemaker, Mrs. Jaworski had resided locally since 1970. She received her associate’s degree from Columbia-Greene Community College and at one time had been employed by HeadStart as a home visitor. She was of the Roman Catholic Faith and had been a communicant of the former Holy Cross Roman Catholic Parish in West Taghkanic.

Survivors include her husband, Peter C. Jaworski of Ancram; three sons, Peter S. Jaworski of Fairfax, Va., Matthew J. Jaworski of Troy and Chuck J. Jaworski of Rock Hill, S.C. Additionally she is survived by three grandchildren, William Carlos Jaworski, Emily Catherine Jaworski and Sophia Margaret Jaworski.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday July 25, at 11 a.m. at St. Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church in Copake Falls with the Rev. Joseph Falletta, pastor, officiating.

There are no calling hours.

Private burial will take place at the convenience of the family.

Memorial contributions may be offered to Community Hospice of Columbia-Greene, 47 Liberty Street, Catskill, NY 12414.

To send an online condolence please visit peckandpeck.net.

 Arrangements are with the Peck & Peck Funeral Home, Route 22 in Copake.



Alice J. Frick, 79, enjoyed spending time with family and friends

STUYVESANT FALLS–Alice J. Frick, 79, died July 19, 2009, at her home.

Born in Stuyvesant Falls September 24, 1929, she was the daughter of the late Clarence and Martha (Knitt) Schools.

Mrs. Frick was a homemaker and enjoyed time with her family and friends, reading, crossword puzzles and slot machines.

She is survived by her husband of 32 years, Robert F. Frick; a son Robert Heintz of Ghent; a daughter, Joni Leigh (David) of Seattle; two step-daughters, Lynda Garafalo of Stuyvesant Falls and Carol Stone (William) of Columbiaville; four sisters, Marion Thorpe (George), Ruth Novak (Martin), Jeanette Shannon (Roy) and Virginia Marchionne;  two brothers, William and Carl (Alice) Schools; a brother in law,Richard Frick (Linda) and a sister in Law, Frances Schools; three grandchildren, Alison Buck, Michaela Jean and Kenneth Walter Heintz; four step-grandchildren, Ronald Jr.(Teena) and Paul Van Benschoten , Jennifer Stone (Jeff) and Emily Stone (Eric); four step great-grandchildren, Nicholas and Alexander Van Benschoten, Hannah Miller and Tyler Ringwood, and several nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her first husband, Walter Heintz, and her brothers Robert and Henry Schools.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. from the Raymond E. Bond Funeral

Home, Inc., Route 9, Valatie, with the service conducted by Rev. Amber Malone. Burial will be in Stuyvesant Falls Cemetery.

Visitation will be Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Emanuel Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 96, Stuyvesant Falls, NY 12174.

Eileen Denecke Carman, 86, member of Young at Hearters

GT.BARRINGTON–Eileen A. Denecke Carman, 86, of Taconic Shores in Copake, died on Friday July 17, 2009 at the Gt. Barrington Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. 

    She was born on August 1, 1922 in Brooklyn, the daughter of the late George and Cornelia (Van Ronk) Huddy.

     Mrs. Carman had been a local resident for the past 40 years, previously residing in Brooklyn.

     A homemaker, she was a communicant of St. Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church in Copake Falls and a member of the Roe Jan Young at Hearters and the Copake Grange.

     Her husbands died previously, Walter Denecke in 1984 and Harry Carman in 2004.

     Survivors include her daughter, Cornelia Cardus of Millbrook and two grandchildren, Alyssa and Michael Cardus.

     Her funeral service will be held Wednesday July 22, at 11 a.m.at the Peck and Peck Funeral Home, Route 22, Copake. The Rev. Joseph Falletta, pastor of St. Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church, will officate.

     Friends are invited and may call Wednesday from 10 to 11 a.m.at the funeral home.

     A private interment will be held in St. Bridget’s Cemetery.

     To send an online condolence please visit peckandpeck.net



Margaret E. Skarka, 91, talented, capable, loving outdoorswoman


PHILMONT–Margaret (Peggy) E. Skarka, 91, of Hudson, died Thursday, July 9, 2009 at Pine Haven Nursing Home.

Ms. Skarka was born July 30, 1917 in Willimantic, Conn. to Charles (Karol) Skarka and Anna Misovich Skarka. The family moved to New York City when Ms. Skarka was five, where she lived and worked until she relocated to Columbia County and purchased her own home in the hamlet of Mellenville around 1949.

An intelligent and artistic woman, Ms. Skarka received high honors in school, as well as recognition and awards for her artwork. Prior to relocation to Columbia County, Ms. Skarka was employed by the Department of the U.S. Navy and was a recipient of a Governmental Certificate of Acknowledgment and Appreciation for her contribution to work on the Norden Bomb Sight Project.

After relocation to Columbia County, Ms. Skarka opened her own business, Peggy’s Beauty Salon in Philmont,which further expanded into Peggy’s General Store. Margaret operated the businesses until her retirement.

Ms. Skarka became a member of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Philmont and contributed a great deal of time and effort to the design and care of the church gardens.

Ms. Skarka was an accomplished business woman, pianist, gardener, seamstress and avid reader. As well as being athletic and a lover of the outdoors, animals and nature, she enjoyed bowling, swimming, and horseback riding. She was a talented, exceptionally capable, strong, loving and generous woman with a delightful sense of humor–and she will be greatly missed.

Surviving are two daughters, Charlene Jane (Akelaitis) Jones of Cary, N.C. and Lorraine Beth (Akelaitis) Rizzi, as well as one grandson, Michael Ryan Rizzi and Ms. Skarka’s beloved son-in-law, Thomas M. Rizzi (all of Ghent). She is also survived by several cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Two sisters, Irene (Skarka) Martin and Bessie (Skarka) O’Reilly, her brother, Charles Skarka Jr., and her ex-husband, Peter George Akelaitis died previously.

A memorial service will be Saturday, August 1, at 10 a.m. at the Ghent Reformed Church, Route 22, West Ghent. Pastor Nancy McClure-Long will officiate. Burial of ashes will follow in the West Ghent Rural Cemetery.

Arrangements are with McDonald Funeral Home, Hudson.