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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 12, 2009

Geraldine Ann Shipley Becker

BERNE — Geraldine Becker, who was woven into the layers of her community, died on Nov. 7, 2009.  She was 77.

She died at St. Peter’s Hospital in the presence of her family after a brief illness.

Born on Easter Sunday in 1932 to Walter E. and Marion H. Shipley, Mrs. Becker grew up in Williamson, N.Y. and graduated from Williamson Central School, and Mansfield State Teachers’ College in Mansfield, Pa.

In 1954, she moved to Albany County to work for the Cooperative Extension Service and married Maver O. Becker a year later.

“They lived 54 loving and fulfilling years together on Switzkill Road in Berne,” her family wrote in a tribute.

The couple raised a family together and Mrs. Becker worked as a substitute teacher for the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District for about 20 years and as a bus driver for the district for almost 50 years.  She also worked as an agent with Farm Family Insurance Company for a number of years and was a data collector for the town of Berne assessor’s office.

Mrs. Becker was a charter member and active participant in the Albany County Farm Bureau, serving as secretary of the organization for several years.  She and her husband were also charter members, past presidents, and officers of the Schoharie Valley Hay Shakers, a regional western square-dance club.

For the last 54 years, Mrs. Becker was an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church — serving at various times as organist and choir director.  She was also a longtime member of the Uhai Chapter of Eastern Star, holding several local and regional leadership positions.

“She cherished the many deep and lasting relationships with close friends from all these organizations,” her family wrote.

In her years working with 4-H and judging at the Altamont Fair, Mrs. Becker liked teaching kids to cook and sew.

“Together, Jerry and Maver shared their love of family and farming and enjoyed their frequent travels across the U.S., and other trips to Canada, Europe, Mexico, and Central America often accompanied by family and friends,” her family wrote.  “She found pleasure in reading, lighthouses, working in her flower gardens, and playing the dulcimer and organ.  She treasured time with her family most of all.”



Mrs. Becker is survived by her husband, Maver O. Becker, and their three sons: Kenneth, Frederick, and Jay, and their sons’ partners and spouses, Kami Patrizio, Kathy Becker, and Shanna Becker.  She is also survived by her grandchildren: Elizabeth, Timothy, Aurora, Benjamin, Lukus, and Chandra as well as numerous nieces and nephews, including Kathleen (Shipley) Metzler, Ann Shipley, and Hugh Shipley.

Her brothers, Hugh and Ken, died before her, as did her sister, Jean.

A funeral was held yesterday, Nov. 11, at the Helderberg Lutheran Church with arrangements by the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.  Interment was in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Berne.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Helderberg Lutheran Parish Bell Tower Fund, Post Office Box 263, Berne, NY  12023. 

Mildred Fisher

Mildred Fisher, who raised three generations in her 103 years, died on Oct. 19, 2009.

The oldest of four children, Mrs. Fisher was born in 1905 in Onesquethaw to Charles and MayVanDerbilt (née Johnson) — one Dutch and the other Irish.

“I call it Dutch stubborn,” her daughter, Mary Kaping, said of her temperament, described also as steadfast and sweet.

Growing up, Mrs. Fisher would often visit her grandparents’ farm in Berne, eating fresh peas from the garden, said her own granddaughter, Nancy Stokes.

As a young woman, she did housework for Clarence Fisher’s family, Mrs. Kaping said, and she married him in 1927.

“She enjoyed being a homemaker,” her daughter said. She loved sewing dresses for herself and her daughter.

Mrs. Fisher kept her dark hair long, until daughter couldn’t braid it anymore, Mrs. Kaping said, remembering that it was so long that she could sit on it.

Patient and steadfast, Mrs. Fisher was the ideal grandmother, Mrs. Stokes said, recalling that the harshest thing she could remember hearing was, “Land sakes, you kids quit rough-housing.”

“She was greatly loved and cared for,” her family wrote in a tribute, “residing at home with her family in talent, Oregon until just a few weeks before her death.”

Mrs. Fisher is survived by her daughter, Mary Kaping, and her husband, Edward, of Talent, Ore. and her son, Clarence Fisher, and his wife, Mary, of Antioch, Calif. She is also survived by her brother, Samuel VanDerbilt, of East Berne, and her sister, Marguerite Mason, of College Place, Wash. as well as her niece, Linda Moats, and her husband, Bill, of Milton-Freewater, Ore., and her nephew, Steven VanDerbilt, of East Berne.

She is also survived by her grandchildren: Timothy Kaping of Tucson, Ariz.; Michael Kaping of Aptos, Calif.; Valerie Dean of Talent, Ore.; Nancy Stokes of Brightwood, Ore.; and Debra Del Valle, Daniel Fisher, and Diane Fisher of Antioch, Calif. as well as six great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

Her husband, Clarence (Joe) Fisher died before her, as did her brother, Arthur VanDerbilt.

— Saranac Hale Spencer 

Miriam Coutant Rider

GUILDERLAND — Miriam Coutant Rider, an outdoor enthusiast, avid traveler, and loving wife and mother, died on Friday, Nov. 6, 2009, at Guilderland Center Nursing Home. She was 95.

Mrs. Rider was born in Schenectady, to the late Jesse and Wilhelmina Oldendorf Coutant. She attended Draper High School, and graduated from the New York State College for Teachers in 1936. Her son, Steven Rider, said she met her husband, Dr. T. Lewis Rider, in a physics lab at the college.

“They used to walk across the street into Washington Park, sit on a bench, and talk about life,” said Mrs. Rider’s son, of his parents. The couple married in 1940, and were together for 39 years before Dr. Rider died.

Although she wanted to be a science teacher, Mrs. Rider took a job as a secretary for General Electric after she graduated from college during the Great Depression, because she needed to work to help her family. She stayed home to raise her three sons, and later was a social worker for Albany County, and an administrative assistant for the Council of Community Services.

Steven Rider described his mother as “actively involved,” and said she took on roles like den mother for the Boy Scouts, and homeroom mother at school. “She always tried to set an example, and instill good values,” he said.

Mr. Rider said his mother loved to travel, and had been to all 50 states, South America, Egypt, the Arctic Circle, and had been part of the first tour group to visit the Soviet Union after the Cold War. Many of her trips were for family pleasure, but she also participated in over 20 Elderhostel trips, which consist of one-week courses, in various locations, for people over 55. Her favorite course topic was history, said her son.

When she wasn’t traveling, Mrs. Rider enjoyed spending time at her camp in the Adirondacks; it was a rustic camp, with over 200 acres, that was built in the 1930s. Mr. Rider said it was a “back to nature” experience, with no running water or electricity. He said his mother loved to swim in the pond they had dug on the land, and she also spent her time in the Adirondacks hiking and painting.

Mrs. Rider was an active volunteer with the Focus Food Pantry, the State University of New York Alumni Association, many youth and school-related groups, and her church.

“She was very concerned about the human condition, and she wanted to eliminate suffering and inequality,” said Mr. Rider. She was an advocated for women’s rights long before the movement in the 1960s, he said.

In 2003, she was nominated for, and received, a Senior Lifetime Achievement Award from the Capital District Senior Issues forum, and the town of Guilderland declared Oct. 21, 2003 as “Miriam Rider Day.”

In addition to her other hobbies, Mrs. Rider enjoyed painting; she was actively involved with the Guilderland Senior Art program. She also liked quilting, bridge, reading, playing golf, and gardening. She loved all animals, especially her dogs. Her son said she was never without a dog from the time she was 16 years old.

Above all, she enjoyed spending time with her family and friends.


Miriam Coutant Rider is survived by her sons, Thomas Rider, and his wife, Barbara, of Niskayuna, and Steven Rider, of Guilderland; her daughter-in-law, Sharon B. Rider, of Delmar; her grandchildren, Thomas C. Rider, and his wife, Rebecca, of Glenville, Susan Rider, of Underhill, Vt., Kristin Cowell, and her husband, Doug, of Pittsboro, N.C., and Scott Rider, of Bethesda, Md.; her great-grandchildren, Matthew Rider, Samantha Cowell, and Katherine Cowell; and, several nieces and nephews.

Her husband, Dr. T. Lewis Rider, died before her, as did her brother, Cornelius Coutant; her sisters, Leona Schroeter Barrie and Eleanor Vought; and her son, Jeffrey C. Rider, M.D.

The family would like to thank the nursing home staffs at Barnwell and Guilderland Center, Hospice of Schenectady, and her loyal friends for their support during her illness.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Nov. 29, at 2 p.m., at First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, 405 Washington Ave.

Memorial contributions may be made to Adirondack Save-a-Stray, 4880 Route 9N, Corinth, N.Y. 12822.

— Anne Hayden

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