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Obituaries Archives The Altamont Enterprise, December 18, 2008
Shirley Le Vie
NEW SCOTLAND Both fun-loving and hard-working, Shirley Le Vie shared her bounty and the fruits of her labor.
She and her late husband, Alfred, owned and operated Le Vies’ Farm Market for 45 years. “The quality of their fruit and vegetables is still legendary…particularly for their juicy and delicious strawberries, melons, and sweet corn,” wrote the family in a tribute.
Mrs. Le Vie died unexpectedly at her New Scotland home on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008, the day after her 76th birthday.
One of six children, she was born on Beaver Dam Road to William and Clara Herzog on Dec. 9, 1932. She grew up in Altamont on a dairy farm on Dunnsville Road.
“Uncle Bill and my mother used to squirt milk at each other when they were supposed to be milking the cows,” said Mrs. Le Vie’s daughter, Catherine Hammann, who lives now in Australia.
The six Herzog children worked hard on the farm but had fun, too. “They jumped out of the barn into haystacks,” said Mrs. Hammann.
Mrs. Le Vie graduated from Draper High School and worked in an office before meeting Alfred Le Vie, who had also grown up on a local farm. The Le Vie farm where the huge Dutch barn still stands on Route 85A near Hilton Road ran all the way to where the Colonie Country Club and the Scotch Pine development are today, said Mrs. Hammann.
“When my parents married,” on March 2, 1952, said Mrs. Hammann, “they got this part of the farm. Their house was a barn. My father made it into a house. It was a family project.”
The Le Vies had sold corn and beans wholesale to Beech-Nut Baby Food. “Mum decided to set up retail,” said Mrs. Hammann. In June of 1952, the newlyweds set up a little roadside stand, she said. In December of that year, Mrs. Hammann was born nine months and 18 days after her parents married, she said. Her sister, Judith, was born three years later.
“She was a good mum, she was tough, no nonsense, but we had a lot of fun as kids,” said Mrs. Hammann. While classmates at school looked forward to their summer vacation, the Le Vie girls knew they’d be working on the farm. They had more free time in the winter.
“Mum and Dad and my sister and I would skate on our pond,” said Mrs. Hammann. “My dad would always check to see if it was thick enough,” she said, commenting that this was odd since he couldn’t swim.
Mrs. Le Vie used the farm produce to make delicious meals. She was well known both for the quality and quantity of her meals. “Many of her recipes made their way into the homes of those who had lost a loved one, were out of work, or were short of meals at Christmastime,” her family wrote. “The Le Vie freezer was always full to the brim with fresh-frozen vegetables from their garden, as well as pies, cakes, and cookies.”
The farm market thrived over the years as the small stand Mr. Le Vie built was eventually replaced twice; the current building was constructed in 1976.
“Customers on their way to the local country clubs, people from around the township, as well as locals crowded the stand’s parking lot seven days a week, six months of every year…,” the family wrote. “Shirley managed the stand while Al managed the fields, employing large numbers of Voorheesville’s young people for over four decades.”
The Le Vies worked well together. “She adored my dad,” Mrs. Hammann said of her mother.
“It was very much of a shock when he died 10 years ago,” said Mrs. Hammann. Mr. Le Vie was diagnosed with cancer and the farm market was closed after 45 years.
Mrs. Le Vie remained active in their church, the First Lutheran Church in Albany.
She also enjoyed bird-watching and reporting for the local wildlife society. And she held leadership positions in Genataska, Home Bureau, and the Department 56 Club whose members collect miniatures.
“Dad was in Kiwanis and they used to get Christmas gifts for underprivileged kids,” said Mrs. Hammann.
“Christmas was a time for decorating, and Shirley did it beautifully,” her family wrote. “Not only was her home laden with lights and decorations, but she and Al had a regular practice of decorating the Lutheran church each Thanksgiving and Christmas season in festive fir, holly, trees, and lights.”
“She was very hardworking but had a great sense of humor and always liked to party,” said her daughter. “She was very talkative and loved to tell stories…She loved entertaining; she loved having people around…She was very much a people person.”
Mrs. Le Vie enjoyed traveling and, after her husband died, was active with the New Scotland Seniors. “She loved going to the senior citizens group and would cook for them,” said her daughter. She rode their Yellow Bus to various events and recently saw the NunCrackers at the Cohoes Music Hall.
“She liked musical events although the joke was she couldn’t sing at all. My Dad was musical,” said Mrs. Hammann who is a music teacher.
The night before Mrs. Le Vie died, she hosted a birthday party where close friends and neighbors celebrated along with her grandson Joshua Hammann and his wife, Taleah, who had arrived the day before from London.
After the party, “Mum felt tired,” Mrs. Hammann said. Joshua and Taleah kissed her goodnight. “When she woke up the next morning, she turned on the Christmas tree lights…She loved Christmas. The whole place was decorated beautifully,” her daughter said. “She sat down on her bed and died.”
“The Le Vie legacy in Voorheesville has come to an end with the sad passing of Shirley,” her family wrote, “but we have much to be thankful for in her life. She was an energetic citizen and mother who never seemed to sit still, and many remember her larger-than-life presence at local celebrations, including the many parties hosted at their own home.”
Shirley Le Vie is survived by her daughters, Catherine Hammann and her husband, Matthew, of Australia, and Judith Mishkin and her husband, Nathaniel, of Nashua, N.H.; her two brothers, Edward Herzog of Colorado and William Herzog and his wife, Claire, of Massachusetts; two sisters, Ruth Greco and her husband, Al, of Schenectady, and Marilyn Chrysler and her husband, Don, of Kinderhook.
She is also survived by her grandchildren, Benjamin Hammann and his wife, Melinda; Joshua Hammann and his wife, Taleah; Emily Hammann; Geoffrey Mishkin and Elizabeth Mishkin.
Her husband of 45 years, Alfred, died before her, as did her brother James Herzog.
A funeral service was held on Monday at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. Interment was in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Guilderland.
Memorial contributions may be made to the First Lutheran Church, 181 Western Ave., Albany, NY 12203.