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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 13, 2010

Henrietta F. “Peggy” Pitcher

BERNE — Henrietta F. Pitcher, a nurse who worked in public relations, died on Wednesday, May 5, 2010, at St. Peter’s Hospital after a long illness. She was 81.

Ms. Pitcher, the daughter of the late Chester and Sarah (Tompkins) Pitcher, was born in 1929, two years before her sister, Dorothy.

Dorothy’s husband, Clyde Willsey of Berne, detailed Miss Pitcher’s family history: “Her mother Sarah’s family built the tavern on Warners Lake in the early 1900s that was known as Mattice’s,” he said. “Through the years, the tavern has changed hands several times. It has been called Snurrs, Zwicklebaurs Hofbrau, and Scholz Hofbrau. Peg’s father, Chester, at the young age of 16, lied about his age and enlisted in the Army. He served in Texas for a time until his true age was discovered, and he was discharged. Chester and Sarah met, married, and moved to Albany where he later opened a candy store.

“The two girls didn’t see much of their father as he spent a great deal of his time at the store,” Mr. Willsey said. “In 1941, Sarah died of cancer, leaving the two girls with their father. Since he wasn’t able to care for the girls and run the store, they were sent to live with relatives for a while. Peg was sent to live with Elija Tompkins in Berne, and Dorothy was sent to an uncle in White Plains.

“Neither of these arrangements worked out very well, so Peg was sent to Quincy, Massachusetts to live with Chester’s brother, Alton, fondly called ‘Uncle Pomp’ for the pompadour wave in his hair. There she took care of the children of a family in that area known as Petersens. Dorothy was sent to live with Harry and Vertie Gibbs until she graduated from high school. While living with them, she helped around the farm and in the kitchen.

“Peg graduated in Massachusetts and went on to nursing school there. The two girls didn’t see much of each other during these years. But, when Peg graduated from nursing school, she went to work for a doctor. Each August, when the doctor took his vacation, Peg came to Berne to visit with her sister, Dot. She often took us on local camping trips to Thompson’s Lake campsite, which we all enjoyed. It was during these visits that Peg and Dot were reacquainted and became true sisters, again.”

When Ms. Pitcher’s father died of a heart attack in 1964, she came home from Massachusetts for the funeral and decided to stay in New York. At this time, she purchased a camp at Golf Hill off the letter “S” and spent summers there and applied for work at Albany Medical Center. She went to work in the public relations department and soon rose to a position where she had her own office in the medical college. She retired in the late 1980s, and bought a motor home, traveling extensively with her companion.

Her family said she liked camping, casinos, and puppies.


Ms. Pitcher is survived by her beloved sister, Dorothy Willsey, and her brother-in-law Clyde Willsey, both of Berne; her longtime companion, Vivian Palmer; her step-aunt, Clare Palmer; her niece, Sally; her nephew, Jerry; and many grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

A funeral service was held on Monday, May 10, at the Daniel Keenan Funeral Home in Albany, with interment at Graceland Cemetery. Mourners may sign an online guestbook at www.danielkeenanfuneralhome.com.

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