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Obituaries Archives The Altamont Enterprise, May 20, 2010
Beulah May Joy
Beulah Mae Joy, a generous, family-orientated woman, died at her home on May 16, 2010. She was 98.
Mrs. Joy was born on the Rugg Homestead in Medusa on Oct. 28, 1911, to Edward and Lena (Scutt) Rugg. She was educated in a one-room schoolhouse at Smith Corners, and graduated from Greenville Free Academy’s last class in 1931; she was the last living graduate.
Her husband, Walter Corning Joy, died on Aug. 29, 1955. The couple had three children Edward, Joyce, and Elaine and Mrs. Joy worked as a clerk at two insurance companies to support them after her husband’s death. She retired from the state’s Executive Division of Military and Naval Affairs in 1976.
She served on committees and as an officer to the Hiawatha Grange, the Medusa Ladies’ Fire Auxiliary, and the Medusa Cemetery Association.
Her family wrote in a tribute that she loved to cook, crochet, garden, arrange flowers, paint pictures, attend school events, and read.
“She was an encouragement to others as they pursued their interests,” her family wrote. “Her retirement was filled with adventures.
She traveled the east coast with her friends, and they called themselves “The Golden Girls.” On two special birthdays, she rode a motorcycle, and flew in a hot-air balloon. She especially enjoyed snowmobile rides and wedding dances, because “each one has a special story of love,” wrote her family.
She is survived by her children, Edward Joy, and his wife, Vaila White, of Feura Bush, Joyce Chase, and her husband, G. Jon, of Medusa, and Elaine Gardiner, and her husband, David, of Fairport; her grandchildren, Jennifer Wheitner and Wayne Joy, Gary Jon Chase II, and his wife, Pamela, Bonnie Gifford, and her husband, Roger, Bradley Chase, and his wife, Renea Carl, Jeffrey Gardiner, and Alison Bersani, and her husband, Kenneth.
She is also survived by her great-grandchildren, Danielle Powell III, and her husband, Clifton, Elizabeth and Parker Chase, Henry and Ashley Gifford, Nicole Chase, and Matthew Bersani; and one great-great-grandchild, Cyle Powell.
A funeral service will be held at the A. J. Cunningham Funeral Home, in Greenville, on May 22, at 2 p.m. Friends may call from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Hiawatha Grange and Medusa Fire Company will remember her during this time. Interment will follow in the Medusa Cemetery on the corner of county routes 403 and 351.
Thomas A. Martin Sr.
A man who thought deeply about everyday events, Thomas A. Martin Sr. wrote about holidays, patriotism, and religion.
Towards the end of his life, early in this century, he published a series of essays in The Enterprise on each of the holidays, beginning with New Year’s Day and traveling through the calendar to New Year’s Eve. He would lay out simple scenes and let the reader draw his own conclusions.
Mr. Martin died on May 12, 2010 in Florida where he had moved to be with family. He was 95.
He was born in Jersey City, N.J. on March 2, 1915, the son of Ottillie Loretta Dahl and John Colin Martin. He had one brother, Frank Martin, who died in 1987.
Their father was a draftsman with a steel plant in Newark; he died when Thomas Martin was 5, leaving their mother to support two sons.
“My mother had lost her mother, her father, and her brother whom she loved dearly all near the same time,” Mr. Martin said. “I was surrounded by a grim household.”
His mother went to work, clerking in a dry goods store while she went to night school to become a librarian. She then worked in the reference room of the Jersey City library and Mr. Martin spent a great deal of time there, learning to love books.
“I graduated into the Depression,” he said. “I didn’t have any money to go to college. I had to get a job.” He ended up working in the sales office of Kenwood Mills for $16 a week. The office was on the 33rd floor of the Empire State Building, the same floor on which Alfred E. Smith, New York’s retired governor, had an office.
When Mr. Martin was 22, he drove with a friend to Maine for a weekend trip where he fell in love with the woman who became his wife, Dorothy Carroll Orr. She was from a wealthy family but the pair knew from their first date that they were meant for each other, they said. After going out to dinner, they sat on the beach and talked late into the night. Mr. Martin had a towel wrapped on his head and Mrs. Martin told him he looked liked Rudolph Valentino. “That did it,” said Mr. Martin.
The couple married in 1939, and were devoted to each other until Mrs. Martin’s death in 2005. As newlyweds, they stayed on a farm in Maine, working on writing a play. In their later years, they described it as “a lousy play” but said the year in the farmhouse was like a long honeymoon. Play-writing was put on hold with the world war and Mr. Martin wound up in the shipyards of South Portland.
The couple eventually settled in Altamont as Mr. Martin worked for the Albany Academy for Boys and later was the administrator for the Albany Guardian Society, retiring in 1985.
“He did a lot of good work there,” said their daughter, Merrily Becker, known in her girlhood as Wendy. “He took care of all the old ladies and they loved him. He was a gentlemen right up until the day he died.”
The Martins raised four children in their house on the village’s Main Street, where they lived for half a century.
“He was a good dad,” said Ms. Becker. “He was funny, easy going, and happy. There was never any yelling or unpleasantness in the house.”
Through the years, the couple wrote plays for their church, Albany’s First Presbyterian Church. They were members of the Willett Players.
Their plays often stressed themes like equality for women. “I felt women in the Bible were given short shrift, and I just wanted to change it with a jolt,” Mr. Martin said. The couple performed a play, for example, where Mary Magdalene is portrayed as an intellectual of means rather than a harlot; the play got a warm reception at St. John’s Church in Altamont, but the congregation in Kennebunkport, Maine drew away.
“I don’t believe Eve was the fallen woman…I think she’s given a bad rap,” said Mr. Martin. “I felt the same way about Mary Magdalene.”
In 2003, the Martins published a book, Slightly Off Center, which featured the Enterprise essays he had published on the holidays, five short plays where characters from the Bible speak to each other, and commentaries that examine the follies of war through the lens of earlier writers.
“I’m taking Christianity and democracy to task,” said Mr. Martin when the book was published. One of his holiday essays describes a spontaneous visit he made to a cemetery as he was driving home, depressed, from an office Christmas party.
“What was I doing here anyway?” he asks “What would I tell my wife? ‘Sorry I’m late, dear, but I stopped off at the cemetery.’ This would go over big. Of course she wouldn’t believe me. Who would?”
But he sojourns on and has a quiet revelation.
“I stood on a sort of plateau and looked up into the sky,” he wrote. “I could not help but think perhaps this was how the heavens above Bethlehem looked that night 2,000 years ago….
“Out there was the tinsel, the glitter, the noise. Here was peace and tranquility. It was like being in the eye of a hurricane. I walked along in the silence, enjoying my solitude, deep in thoughts of Christmas.”
Thomas A. Martin Sr. is survived by his children, David Colin Martin from The Villages, Fla.; Merrily Becker of Jacksonville, Fla.; Janet Kofler of New Orleans; and Thomas Martin Jr. of Atlanta.
He is also survived by his grandchildren, Lauren Martin of Arlington, Va.; Christopher Lyle of North Carolina; John Chandler Martin of Atlanta; and by one niece and one nephew.
The family will spread his ashes over the ocean at Kennebunkport, Maine, said Mrs. Becker.
Memorial contributions may be made to the First Presbyterian Church, 362 State Street, Albany, NY 12210-1299.
Margaret “Si” Stevens
KNOX Si Stevens was the center of a small world and she rarely left her post.
From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., she was outside in all seasons pumping gas at the small station in front of a white clapboard building on Route 156 in the hamlet. On Saturdays, she’d open at 6:30 and on Sundays she’d open at 7:30 and go to the Knox Reformed Church.
“She’d only sit down for Christmas and Thanksgiving,” said her nephew, Brad Stevens.
“As long as the Lord gives me health, I’ll be here,” she told this newspaper in 1990, when she was 64. Thirteen years later, she moved to Our Lady of Mercy Life Center and died there on May 18, 2010. She was 83.
Ms. Stevens was the only surviving twin born to Daniel Webster and Edna Stevens on Aug. 28, 1926 and, at two-and-a-half pounds, they kept her in a shoebox. Named Margaret, but always called Si, she got the name from an old comic strip that featured a tiny baby called Si.
When she was 3, her father bought an old blacksmith’s shop and turned it into the gas station where she worked her whole life.
“She worked day and night and a lot of people depended on her,” said Bob Stevens, another of her nephews. It wasn’t uncommon for her to get out of bed to pump gas for someone who needed it.
The gas station was a gathering place, where kids ate ice cream and candy and old timers smoked cigarettes.
People coming through left bits of news that moved along with later customers. “They passed a lot of information through her in that station,” said Travis Stevens, a grand nephew of Ms. Stevens.
Before the 911 emergency system was established, Ms. Stevens operated the civil defense and fire siren, he said. If there were an emergency, she’d get a call and then press the button for the alarm, he said.
“She took care of us,” said Brad Stevens, who spent much of his childhood at the station with his brothers.
When Ms. Stevens needed to leave, to do her shopping or an errand, one of them would mind the station. “I’ve got a lot of good relations,” she once said.
“Always light-hearted, Si enjoyed music, played the piano, and loved to dance,” her family wrote in a tribute.
Like her father, she read the Bible every night, but rarely quoted from it, said Bob Stevens. “She was an extremely fair person,” he said. “She didn’t have a mean streak.”
Ms. Stevens is survived by her sisters-in-law, Emma Stevens and Jennie Stevens, both of Knox, and by many nieces and nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews, and great grand nieces and great grand nephews. She is also survived by hundreds of friends and loyal customers.
Her parents, Daniel Webster and Edna Stevens, died before her, as did her siblings, Raymond Stevens, Marshall Stevens, Mildred Wideman, and Virginia Clickman.
A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 21 at the Knox Reformed Church with calling hours today, May 20 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.
Memorial donations may be made to the Knox Reformed Church, Post Office Box 86, Knox, NY 12107.
Saranac Hale Spencer
Leah Snyder Benjamin Wright
Leah Snyder Benjamin Wright, a nurse and a risk taker, died on May 15, 2010, under hospice care in Cape Coral, Fla. She was 86.
Mrs. Wright was born on Aug. 2, 1923, in Worcester, NY, the second daughter of Guy and Leah Guernsey Snyder. She was the valedictorian of Worcester High School’s class of 1941. She earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in nursing from Russell Sage College.
She worked as a registered nurse at General Electric in Schenectady; a home-health nurse in Albany; and a school nurse and health teacher at Guilderland central and Troy Catholic high schools. She served as a colleague to her first husband, Dr. Harry F. Benjamin, as they developed his medical practice in Scotia and Altamont.
Her family wrote in a tribute that, as she worked, she raised four children, and contributed to the lives of two stepchildren.
She volunteered for the American Red Cross; Hospice; the Lee Memorial Hospital of Cape Coral, Fla.; the Lakeshore Humane Society; the Salvation Army; and the Girl Scouts of America.
Mrs. Wright was married to Dr. Benjamin for 46 years before his death.
She reconnected with her high school sweetheart, George H. Wright, after 64 years, and later married him. They celebrated four years of marriage before her death.
A family tribute described Mrs. Wright as a risk taker, an animal lover, and a great cook. She loved boat rides, the Adirondack Mountains, classical and big-band music, Lawrence Welk, and Tampa Rays baseball games. She enjoyed hot-glue and spray- paint crafts. She liked to ski and travel, adored reading, and was a Civil War authority. She was member of Cape Coral Christian Fellowship.
“There was no one ever like Leah,” her family wrote.
Mrs. Wright is survived by her husband, George Wright, of Cape Coral, Fla.; her daughters, Ann Bowers, of Fredonia, Susan Weisz, and her husband, Jeffrey, of Guilderland Center, and Cecile Simmons, and her husband, Steven, of Altamont; her son, Timothy Benjamin, and his wife, Leslie, of Pittsford; David Antkowiak, who was like a son, of Bokeelia, Fla.; her stepchildren, Christie King, and her husband, Irwin, of The Villages, Fla., Michael Benjamin, and his wife, Joan, of Land o’ Lakes, Fla., Gary Wright, and his wife, Serena, of Staatsburg, and Beth Wright, of Queensbury.
She is also survived by her grandchildren, Christopher Benjamin, Benjamin Moore, the father of Owen and Oscar, Katrina, Heather, and Gwen Simmons, Lauren and Bryan Benjamin, and Erin Bowers Brackenridge, the mother of Peyton.
Her first husband, Harry F. Benjamin, died before her, as did her sister, Charlotte.
A family memorial service will take place at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Lakeshore Humane Society, Post Office Box 12, Fredonia, NY 14063.