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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 3, 2010

Elizabeth Griessler

EAST BERNE — Elizabeth Griessler, who was raised in Hungary and came to start a new life in New York City as a teenager, lived to be a great-great-grandmother.

She died on Tuesday, May 25, 2010, at Albany Medical Center. She was 102.

Mrs. Griesler spent most of her life in upstate New York. “I like the country better,” she told The Enterprise when she celebrated her hundredth birthday.

She was born on Aug. 14, 1907 to the late Steven and Elizabeth Schmotzer in Connecticut, the second oldest in a family of nine brothers and sisters. She moved to Hungary with her sister and mother when she was just a year old and lived there until she was 16.

Then she moved back to the States, to New York City, with her sister, Mary. While living in New York City, Mrs. Griessler and her sister worked for a wealthy family on Park Avenue. Her sister worked as a cook, and Mrs. Griessler worked as a chambermaid. The two spoke only Hungarian, and they attended night school to learn English.

Mrs. Griessler met her husband, Frank, in New York City at a dance. After dating for nearly two years, they were married on June 1, 1929. They had a son in 1930, and the next year the Griesslers moved to a dairy farm in Delanson. The family grew to include a daughter, Elizabeth.

In 1970, the Griesslers moved to East Berne. After her husband died in the 1970s, Mrs. Griessler continued to live in her East Berne home, helped in her later years by her daughter who lived nearby.

She remained active in her later years, attending monthly meetings with the local senior citizens’ group and going to Saint Bernadette’s Church in Berne on Sundays. She also enjoyed watching television, reading the newspaper, and playing pinochle.

“Not for money,” she hastened to add as she approached the century mark.


Elizabeth Griessler is survived by a son, William Griessler, and his wife, Frances, of Delanson; a daughter, Eleanor Giebitz, and her husband, Paul, of East Berne; nine great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandsons; and a niece, Maryann.

A Mass of Christian burial was held at 11 a.m. at Saint Bernadette’s Roman Catholic Church in Berne on Saturday, May 29, followed by interment at the South Berne Cemetery.

Arrangements were by the Fredendall Funeral Home of Altamont.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer 

David A. Millington

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

ALTAMONT — David A. Millington, a local war hero, died on Memorial Day.

A bomber pilot who flew 19 missions during World War II, Mr. Millington was the grand marshal for Altamont’s Memorial Day parade in 1999. That same year, he was given a hero’s ovation as he was presented with a Conspicuous Cross at Altamont’s Loyalty Day celebration.

He was born on July 21, 1923, the son of the late Cassius and Winifred Millington, and raised in Jonesville, N.Y. Mr. Millington was the oldest of seven children, raised by parents who worked as tenant farmers on 180 acres in Ballston Lake.

He’d always had a hankering to fly and built model planes as a kid. Mr. Millington began taking lessons, unbeknownst to his parents, flying off the water in Round Lake; he’d fly after working the third shift at General Electric.

At 19, he enlisted. The war helped define his life. Mr. Millingotn continued to serve in the United States Air Force Reserve until 1965.

His memories of the war were vivid. He painted bombs on the side of his B-25 Bomber to indicate the number of missions he’d flown over Germany, and he received an Air Medal during the war, given to combat pilots for heroic action in flight.

Mr. Millington remembered the events of May 18, 1944 with particular clarity. That day, he was piloting a plane on a mission to bomb one of 10 refineries at the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. “The Germans used the oil to keep the war machine going,” he said.

He’d flown over 80 combat hours. On one mission the month before, his plane was hit by German fighters. “Thirty-two men were set on fire,” he said. “As I’m trying to get back in formation, a Falkwolf hit us broadside with four 20-milimeter shells,” Mr. Millington recalled. With his two gunners injured, he turned the plant around and flew back to Italy, making a tough landing when a tire blew out.

“We didn’t burn, thank goodness,” he said. “Both injured men survived.”

When the plane’s nose crumbled, the instrument panel came within six inches of his chest. “You never know,” Mr. Millington said. “Each day is different. You have to accept it as an aircrew member. You never know what you’re going to expect.”

On May 18, on his mission to Romania, the propeller on his plane stopped working. “We decided we should bail out to save the men’s lives,” he said. The 10 men prepared to parachute over the eastern edge of Yugoslavia. “It was the first time for everybody,” said Mr. Millington. “All they told you was to grab the D-ring on your parachute harness and count one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three before pulling the rip cord.”

At 10,000 feet, it wasn’t as simple as it sounded

When the bull turret wouldn’t jump, Mr. Millington ordered the others to throw him out, surmising he’d come to his senses once in the air. He did. “He’s alive today,” Mr. Millington said with a smile in 1999. Mr.Millington kept in touch his entire life with his flight crews.

After the rest of the crew was out, it was Mr. Millington’s turn to jump, but by then the plane was in a nosedive and he couldn’t bail out. He crawled headfirst 20 feet to the cockpit to get to the control panel and level the plane. By the time he jumped, he was 30 miles away from his crew. He found out later they were all captured the first day and taken to a prisoner of war camp in Germany where they spent 11 months and 19 days. The Germans listed Mr. Millington as dead.

He had landed in a brush area with one foot caught in the crotch of a tree. He headed for the high mountains to look for Josip Broz Tito’s partisans.

Mr. Millington said he used the skills he’d learned as a farm boy to live off the land. When he reached the high mountain area, he was on the lower side of the Albanian Alps, but he thought he was still in Yugoslavia. He learned he was in Albania when he was captured by the Italian Fascist Police.

Mr. Millington was put on public display in one small town and then marched to another where he was locked up in an underground basement cell with 15 natives. He was eventually handed over to the Germans and imprisoned in Pec, a city the Turks had occupied before the Germans. He used a hacksaw he’d hidden in his shoe to cut through the prison bars and escaped, climbing up into the mountains, still looking for Tito’s partisans.

He finally found one, spotting a red star on the uniform of a lad who came to bring in two grazing cows. The boy embraced him and took him to the partisans’ headquarters. They escorted Mr. Millinngton to a hidden airstrip.

“I was put aboard with 26 wounded partisans. They had gun wounds with gangrene,” Mr. Millington recalled. “The odor was out of this world…American pilots were flying so I got up to the cockpit.”

There, he was offered some Italian bread — the most wonderful he’d ever tasted. He was flown to Bari, on the east cost of Italy, and hospitalized.

“I was repatriated on D-Day,” said Mr. Millington.

He said he had no problems adjusting to life after combat. He was assigned to Orlando Fla., doing work at an air proving ground command.

That same year, in August, he met Vera Lints, the woman who would become his wife. They were married on April 1, 1945.

“Have you ever heard the song, ‘The Boardwalk of Atlantic City’?” asked Mr. Millington. “We used to dance on the pier.”

The Millingtons settled on Dunnsville Road in Altamont where they raised their children. He lived in the home they built for the rest of his life.

Mr. Millington worked for General Electric in a research and development lab as a designer. He also worked at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory. He stayed in the military for 23 years, and retired at the rank of major.

“You can’t forget,” he said.


David A. Millington is survived by his two daughters, Denise Ghostlaw of New York, and Deidra Ewerth and her husband, Robert Jr., of Pennsylvania; his son, David Millington, and his wife, Donna, of Ohio; eight grandchildren, John, Karen, Sandy, Janelle, Jared, Kendra, Karisa, and Aubree; and six great-grandchildren, Cole, Reed, Chloe, Cassius, Megan, and Cara.

He is also survived by two sisters, Blanche and Kay.

His wife, Vera, died before him as did his daughter, Davia Millington.

A committal service will be held at the Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga national Cemetery at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June, 4, followed by a memorial service at the Princetown Evangelical Presbyterian Church at 12:30 p.m.

Friends may call today, June 3, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the International Bible Society at 1820 Jet Stream Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921; contributions will provide Bibles to active service members. 

Joan Ann Schinnerer

Joan Ann Schinnerer, a deacon and sports enthusiast, died on May 28, 2010. She was 76.

Miss Schinnerer was born in Colonie on Nov. 23, 1933, to Harry G. Schinnerer Sr. and Grace T. Schinnerer. She attended schools in Albany and Colonie, and graduated from Draper High School, in Rotterdam, in 1952. In her junior year, she received the Elmira College Key Award, a distinguished honor.

She worked for Schenectady Savings and Loan Association until the late 1950s, and then worked for the New York State Civil Service until retirement; she ended her career as a senior administrative analyst.

She had a love of sports and a dedicated discipline, which helped her become very successful in softball, basketball, and bowling, wrote her family in a tribute.

Miss Schinnerer bowled in many leagues in Schenectady throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and enjoyed many friendships and tournaments, her family wrote.

She served as a deacon at the Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church in Guilderland, where she also taught a Sunday school class called “Special Friends,” for young people with disabilities. When she moved to Albany, she served as a deacon at the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Miss Schinnerer’s family would like to express sincere thanks to the Daughters of Sarah Daycare Program, the Teresian House, and Carmel Gardens East staff, for their care, and the Rev. James Reisner and deacons for their prayers and expressions of love.

Miss Schinnerer lived with her sister and brother-in-law, Jeanne and Howard Borden, for the past seven years.

She is survived by Grace Jane Carl, and her husband, Herbert; Andrew M. Schinnerer, and his wife, Pat; Arthur D. Schinnerer, and his wife, Sylvia; Kathleen Schinnerer; and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews, cousins, and friends.

Her brothers, Don A., John H., and Harry G., and his wife, Ruth, died before her.

She was interred next to her mother in Prospect Hill Cemetery, in Guilderland. A graveside service was held at the cemetery on June 3, at 11 a.m. Arrangements are by the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association NENY, 4 Pine Plaza, Albany NY 12205; Westminster Presbyterian Church, Deacon’s or Mission’s Fund, 85 Chestnut St., Albany, NY 12210; or, Teresian House, Carmel Gardens East, 200 Washington Ave. Extension, Albany, NY 12203, care of Shawn Hall.

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