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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 16, 2008

Catherine Crommie

DELANSON — Catherine “Cathy” Crommie, the hard-working center of her family, died on Oct. 14, 2008.  She was 76.

Born in Selkirk to the late George C. and Catherine Van Alstyne Dunagan, Mrs. Crommie grew up to be the family caretaker, looking after children and elders alike, said her daughter, Judy Crommie.

She “married her beloved husband, Joseph J. Crommie, on June 24, 1950,” wrote her family in a tribute.

Mrs. Crommie soon became a “very caring, very loving” mother, said her daughter, giving her children “a good, Catholic upbringing.”

She fed her family and her church chocolate rolls, pot roasts, pies, and cakes, Ms. Crommie said.  Of her mother’s preferred dishes, she said, “She’s Irish — so, meat and potatoes.”

Outside of the house, Mrs. Crommie worked in sales at Jamaica Builders in Esperance and then, until her retirement, at Bellevue Builders.  She also sold Avon products.

“She worked hard,” said Ms. Crommie.  “She took care of her family.”

An avid gardener, her yard bloomed red.  “She loved Crimson Climbers,” Ms. Crommie said.

Mrs. Crommie also enjoyed historical novels, antique hunting, and crocheting, her daughter said, concluding, “She was not one to sit still for long.”  She was a member of the Sloansville United Methodist Church.

A role model for her children and grandchildren, Ms. Crommie said, “She was the center of things.”


Mrs. Crommie is survived by her husband, Joseph Crommie, and her daughters: Linda Crommie of Central Bridge; Judy Crommie of Esperance; and Patricia Russell and her husband, Norman, of Wellford, S.C.  She is also survived by her grandchildren: Jason Russell of South Hampton, N.Y.; Amanda Russell of Jacksonville, Fla.; Brian Russell of Wellsford, S.C.; Kenny Cravotta of Esperance; and Jamie Lawyer and Adam Crommie, both of Esperance.  She is survived, too, by her great-grandson, Izic Lawyer, of Esperance.

Mrs. Crommie’s siblings — Anna Maria Millard, Georgetta DeRocco, Grace Gutkaiss, and George Dunagan Jr. — all died before her.

Calling hours will be held at the White Vanburen Funeral Home, Inc., on Main Street in Delanson, today, Thursday, from 6 to 8 p.m..  Funeral services will be held at the same place tomorrow, Friday, at noon, with interment to follow at the Esperance Cemetery on Burtonsville Road in Esperance.

Donations may be made to the Sloansville United Methodist Church, Rural Route 20, Esperance, NY  12066 or to the National Parkinson Foundation, 1501 N.W. Ninth Avenue, Bob Hope Road, Miami, FL  33136-1494.

— Saranac Hale Spencer

Helen Elizabeth Elmendorf

ALTAMONT — Helen Elizabeth Elmendorf, who always took care of her family, died on Oct. 11, 2008.  She was 89.

“She had to leave school and go to work… to support the family,” said Cheryl Traeger, Mrs. Elmendorf’s daughter.  She worked at the Huyck felt mill, hooking rugs, Mrs. Traeger said, and added with a laugh, “My mother was a hooker.”

Mrs. Elmendorf supported her parents, John and Harriet (née Vogt) Noonan, and her younger brother, Kenneth George Noonan, in their Albany home for seven or eight years on that salary, Mrs. Traeger said.  “She kept the family from financial ruin.”

Later, she met Harris J. Elmendorf, said their daughter.  “My mother’s best friend was my father’s best friend’s girlfriend,” Mrs. Traeger said of how her parents met.

When they were newlyweds, Mrs. Traeger said, her parents lived with Mrs. Elmendorf’s family, until they had saved up enough money to buy a piece of land in Slingerlands, where Mr. Elmendorf built their family’s home.

On weekends, the Elmendorfs would often go camping, Mrs. Traeger said.  “She liked to camp,” she said of her mother.  “It was a chance to be outside.”  One of her favorite places to go, Mrs. Traeger said, was called Towpath, in Middleburgh.

After her youngest child was grown, Mrs. Elmendorf went to work, first in real estate and then in the tax and finance department for New York State, her daughter said.

In later years, Mrs. Elmendorf joined the Altamont Seniors group, where she often attended lunches, said Eileen McKenney, the Seniors correspondent for The Enterprise.

“She liked to trot around and find bargains,” said her daughter, whose home had been outfitted with Mrs. Elmendorf’s finds. 

“She was a good mother,” Mrs. Traeger said.  “We never wanted for anything.”


Mrs. Elmendorf is survived by her children: Cheryl Traeger and her husband, Edward; Robert Elmendorf; and Kenna Burns and her husband, Joseph.  She is also survived by her brother, Kenneth George Noonan, and his wife, Faith, as well as five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Her husband, Harris J. Elmendorf, died on Feb. 8, 1991.

A funeral service was held yesterday, Wednesday, Oct. 15, at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont with the Rev. David F. Nuss officiating.  Interment followed at the New Scotland Cemetery, in New Scotland.

— Saranac Hale Spencer

John W. “Jack” Holmberg

John W. Holmberg — known as Jack to his family and friends — was beloved by his hardware customers and devoted to his family.

“The center of his life was his family,” said his sister, Karen Holmberg Bresnahan. “Not just his nuclear family, with his three kids, but the extended family.”

Mr. Holmberg, who grew up in Voorheesville, died on Oct. 8, 2008 in Victor, N.Y., where he lived. He was 59.

The Holmberg family moved to Crow Ridge Road in 1954 into a home built by Jack’s father, John A. Holmberg. Jack Holmberg attended the Voorheesville schools, graduating in the Class of 1966. He played varsity football and basketball, and was an active member of the Key Club throughout high school. After high school, he graduated from Hudson Valley Community College.

His siblings also went to Voorheesville schools — Karen was in the Class of 1965, Peter was in the Class of 1971, Julie was in the Class of 1976, and Paula was in the Class of 1981.

“Voorheesville is a very special place to all of us who grew up there,” said Mrs. Bresnahan.

The children and their families gathered every year for get-togethers at the Crow Ridge home until their mother, Jeanette Holmberg, moved out in 2004 after a half-century. Every year, on the Friday night after Thanksgiving, Jack Holmberg would organize a family bowling outing at the alleys on Route 20 in Guilderland. Several generations of Holmberg bowlers would reserve anywhere from four to six lanes and compete to see who got the highest score.

“Jack was often the winner,” said his sister. “This tradition spanned about 25 years.”

The children and their spouses celebrated Christmas every year on Crow Ridge Road. And the Holmberg family all attended the Voorheesville Centennial Celebration in 1999.

Mr. Holmberg settled outside of Rochester, living in Penfield and Victor. He worked as an account manager for National Hardware for over 30 years. “He is beloved by his customers,” his sister wrote in a tribute.

“He has been our salesman for as long as most of us can remember,” wrote friends at Knapp & Schlappi Lumber Company in Pen Yan, N.Y. in a funeral-home guest book, “and there are no words adequate to tell you how much we all thought of him and how much he will be missed by us. Please know that we share in your sadness as we have lost a very dear friend.”

Mr. Holmberg has three grown children — John, Brian, and Jessica — from his marriage to Margaret (Peggy) Gipp of Voorheesville. “John and his wife, Celestin, have two beautiful children — Jake and Abby — who were loved by Grandpa Jack,” said the tribute.

Mr. Holmberg was an avid golfer. He was a member of a golf league and traveled to Hilton Head on an annual golf outing.

“I got to know Jack through St. Joe’s Golf League,” wrote Gary Bruno of Penfield in the guest book. “I really enjoyed playing with Jack and the fun we always had at the ‘19th’ hole. Jack was a terrific guy. We’ll all miss him.”

“Jack was also a genius at building ‘things,’” wrote his sister. “His family wanted a backyard in-ground pool — he built it. He renovated a kitchen on his own. He built fine furniture, often as family gifts. He was able to look at a picture, create plans, and build pretty much anything.”

She went on, “Jack’s life centered around his family. He would move anything to be at a family get-together. He was funny with a sarcastic slant, which will be dearly missed.”

Mr. Holmberg was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2005. He spent over two years getting aggressive chemotherapy, and he took part in a clinical trial at the Hillman Cancer Center at the University of Pittsburg where he did so well the doctors called him “Homerun Holmberg,” said his sister.

“But cancer is a tenacious disease,” she wrote, “and, in April of this year, he had a seizure when the cancer traveled to his brain. Jack continued to be positive, always trying ways to get better. The Holmberg family has a large hole in it. Voorheesville has lost a favorite son.”


Mr. Holmberg is survived by his children, John Holmberg II and his wife, Celestin; Brian Holmberg, and Jessica Holmberg; his grandchildren, Jake and Abby Holmberg; his mother, Jeanette; his sisters, Karen Bresnahan and her husband, Chris, Julie Bowyer and her husband, David, and Paula Benson and her husband, Todd; his brother, Peter Holmberg, and his wife, Jill; and best friends Bob Westervelt and Karen Betts; three nieces and a nephew.

His father John A. Holmberg, died before him.

A funeral mass will be held on Saturday, Oct. 18, at noon at St. Mary’s Church in Canandaigua, N.Y. Arrangements are by Jarmusz Cotton Funeral Home in Victor, N.Y. Interment will be at a later date.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Hillman Cancer Center at the University of Pittsburgh (Melanoma Research Fund) at UPMCCancerCenters.com/giving or UPMC Cancer Pavilion, Suite 1B, 5150 Centre Ave., Pittsburgh, PA  15232.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

Walter Oliver

KNOX — Walter “John” Oliver, a fixture at the town’s transfer station, died unexpectedly on Monday, Oct. 13, 2008. He was 73.

“Everybody liked him,” said his wife, Margie Shafer Oliver. “He worked for the Thruway for 22 years and, after he retired, he took a job up at the transfer station in Knox. Everybody would come in and talk with him and have coffee, and some of them spent most of the morning up there. So he’s going to be missed up there, I know that.”

Mr. Oliver was born into a long-time Hilltown family.

“He went to the one-room schoolhouse down here in Township,” said his wife, “and then he went to Berne. He quit school and enlisted in the Navy in ’53; he was on a destroyer, and was discharged in ’56, but he went to a lot of countries.

“He built our house; he built a log cabin a few years before we were married. He liked to build things and he liked to hunt, until the last few years, then he barely went out.”

Mr. Oliver was a dedicated father to his only child and took great pleasure in being with his two grandchildren, Taylor and Tanner Stone.

“My Dad was a devoted and supportive father who raised me in a way that I knew I was loved,” his daughter, Tammy Stone, wrote in a tribute. “He took me hunting, fishing, four-wheeling, and on many memorable vacations.

“He instilled in me the importance of family by hosting large family get-togethers. He taught me to follow my dreams and never give up, even if life takes a detour now and then.

“Even after I got married, he would call almost daily just to see how my day was and always ended the call with, ‘I love you.’ I always felt my Dad’s support; even if he didn’t always agree, he would express his gentle opinion and try to guide me in a way that a great father does.”

Mrs. Oliver detailed some of the many activities her husband enjoyed. They met at the Knox sesquicentennial dance in the 1970s and married in 1987.

“The fellas around here formed a club,” she said, “and they’d have little competitions and things like that.” The Plankroaders in Township “kept it up over the years,” she said. “And one time, my dad and his friend and myself went down to the dance. My brother wouldn’t dance with me and told me to go dance with John, and that was it.”

Her brothers rode snowmobiles with Mr. Oliver. “They’d ride for hours and hours and they’d come back to his mom and dad’s and have eats and get warm,” she recalled.

She and her husband rode motorcycles together. And, when he was younger, Mr. Oliver drove a racehorse named Grand Abby.

After they were married, he bought a horse named Romeo’s Valentine. “John would go up to the race track [in Saratoga] with the horse,” Mrs. Oliver recalled, “and he would ride with a trainer, and I would go up with my brother and sister-in-law. Romeo would race all the time. The one time Romeo won was the one time my brother didn’t bet.”

Mrs. Oliver went on about her husband’s favorite pastimes, “He had a John Deere tractor, which he thought a lot of. And he would be working, out mowing the fields... Sometimes I would look out there to see what he was doing, and he wasn’t there; he’d ride his tractor down to his neighbors….

“He liked to talk. He liked to help other people,” she concluded.

Two of the people he most liked to be with were his grandchildren. “My dad was a wonderful and caring grandfather,” said his daughter. “He enjoyed fishing his pond with his grandchildren. He never missed a Christmas production at Schoharie Elementary and he was his grandson’s biggest fan at the Little League field.

“He was Taylor and Tanner’s favorite babysitter after school where they would have fun-filled afternoons of cards, checkers, cartoons, and chocolate milkshakes. He never missed an opportunity to go out to dinner, breakfast, or get an ice cream. My dad passed on his love of John Deere tractors to my son, Tanner.”

She concluded,  “We will miss our Sundays with PaPa.”


Mr. Oliver is survived by his wife, Margie Shafer Oliver; his daughter by a previous marriage, Tammy Stone, and her husband, Gene; his two grandchildren, Taylor and Tanner; a sister, Helen Quay; a brother, Peter Oliver Jr. and his wife, Micky; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held today (Thursday) at 2 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. Family and friends may call before the service, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Interment will follow in Grove Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN  38105, or to the American Breast Cancer Foundation, 1220 B-Joppa Road, Suite 332, Baltimore, MD  21286.

— Zach Simeone

Sharon L. Paratore

ALTAMONT — Sharon L. Paratore, a mother who worked as an administrative assistant at Albany Medical Center for 14 years, died on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008. She was 54.

She was the daughter of the late Clayton and Beatrice Tallman.

She is survived by Lorri Trotta and her husband, Dean, of Bethlehem and Jennifer Wright and her husband, Donald, of Berne; two sons, Michael Seymour and his wife, Valerie, of Colonie and Thomas Paratore of Albany; four sisters, Carol Powers and her husband, James, of Holiday, Fla., Barbara Loucks and her husband, Adriance, of Westerlo, Donna Vail and her husband, John, of  Holiday, Fla., and Denise Tallman of Albany; one brother, Clayton Tallman and his wife, Sharon, of Palm Harbor, Fla; six grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Voorheesville First United Methodist Church at 68 Maple Ave. in Voorheesville. Relatives and friends may call on Friday from 4 - 8 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery in Glenmont. Memorial contributions may be made to Community Hospice of Albany, 445 New Karner Road, Albany, NY 12205.

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