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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 21, 2011

Dr. Lauren K. Ayers

GUILDERLAND — Dr. Lauren K. Ayers, a clinical psychologist, public servant, author, and beloved mother and grandmother, died peacefully at her home in Saratoga Springs, on Friday, July 1, 2011. She was 64.

In 1996, Dr. Ayers was appointed to the Guilderland Town Board, where she served for several months until she lost a race for re-election. “In 1997, she ran again — surprising no one who knew her — and won a four-year term,” wrote her family in a tribute.

She was instrumental in Guilderland adopting a system for warning residents about sexual predators of children.

She ran for the United States House of Representatives from New York’s 21st District in 1998.

“The centerpiece of the campaign was an enormous Winnebago, which she drove herself,” her family wrote.

Dr. Ayers was born on Aug. 7, 1946, in Jamaica, Queens, the daughter of the late Wilford and Johanna deHaan Kurz.

“She was proud of her New York City origins and her Dutch heritage,” wrote her family.

She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and her certification in school psychology, from the State University of New York at Albany. In 1976, she completed her Ph.D. in educational psychology and statistics at the University in Albany, while she was pregnant with her first child.

She set up her own practice in Albany, and for 35 years, she treated and helped countless people, her family wrote.

Dr. Ayers had advanced training from the Critical Stress Incident Foundation, which she used to provide support for those traumatized by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; she was a member of the American Psychological Association and the National Register for Health Service Providers in Psychology; and she served as a consulting psychologist for “To Life!” and the Albany County Nursing Home.

She also served as a staff psychologist at St. Peter’s Hospital, RG Psychological Services, Eleanor Roosevelt Developmental Services, the Child Research and Study Center at Albany Medical Center, and St. Catherine’s Child Care Center; she taught and spoke about psychology at various schools and institutions, including The College of Saint Rose, Albany Medical Center, News Channel 13, and the cruise ships of Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Dr. Ayers wrote many articles and several books, including Teenage Girls: A Parent’s Survival Manual; Women’s Friendships and Breast Cancer; and, with Ed Girtler, How to Protect Kids from Child Molesters. At the time of her death, she was working on a novel set in Algeria, where her father fought during World War II.


She is survived by her son, Andrew Ayers, his wife, Emily, and their daughters, Evelyn and Violet; her son Stephen, and his wife, Sunitha; her daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Edouard; and her sister, Barbara Stewart.
Funeral services were held Friday, July 8, at the First United Methodist Church in Delmar. Interment followed in the Albany Rural Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to To Life!, a breast cancer support and education organization, 410 Kenwood Ave., Delmar, NY 12054.

MarijeanPreston Corcuera

ALTAMONT –– A straightforward and open person with a quick wit, Marijean Preston Corcuera, who was raised in Altamont, died on Sunday, July 10, 2011, at Loretto Nursing Home near Syracuse. Born in Kingston, N.Y., she was 77 years old.

Mrs. Preston Corcuera, along with her sister, Judith Preston Heald, were responsible for completing the funding needed to build the gazebo in Altamont’s Orsini Park. The gazebo still stands to this day.

“From what I can remember, Altamont was looking for donations to erect the gazebo,” said Mrs. Preston Corcuera’s niece, Peggy Smith. “My mother spoke with my aunt, who still had some inheritance from my Grandmother Preston’s estate, and they both chipped in to give the committee the rest of the money needed to erect the gazebo. They did this in the name of my grandmother, Margaret Preston. My mother and my aunt were so proud to have the Preston name associated with doing some good for the community.”

As a youngster, Mrs. Preston Corcuera was active in the Lutheran Church on Maple Avenue in Altamont, as well as many community events. She was a drum majorette while attending Voorheesville’s high school. Before that, she attended the “little red schoolhouse” along with her sister, when it was on Bozenkill Road, where their mother was a school teacher.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Mrs. Preston Corcuera enlisted in the Women’s Marine Corps at the time of the Korean War. She was stationed in California. She eventually moved to Texas, where she had four children.

“Her smile,” said her daughter, Polly Corcuera, of what distinguished her mother. “Her eyes were really bright and made you feel good.”

After her marriage ended in Texas, Mrs. Preston Corcuera moved to New York and met her surviving husband of 44 years, Richard P. Corcuera. She lived in Baldwinsville, N.Y. with her husband for her remaining years and was a licensed practical nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital for nearly 11 years.

“I always felt very comfortable around her because she loved you for who you were,” said Ms. Smith. “She didn’t expect anyone to pretend they were someone they were not. She spoke with her facial expressions. You could always tell from looking at her what was coming. She had quite the sense of humor, too. She had a bunch of quick one-liners that would sneak up on you. She’d be out of the room or onto something else before you realized that what she had just said was actually a pun or meant to be funny.”

Mrs. Preston Corcuera was an artist and had a craft business with her sister called Grandma’s Two. “My aunt and my mother were very close,” Smith said. “They would go to all kinds of area craft shows in and around the Syracuse area to sell their hand-crafted goods.”

Mrs. Preston Corcuera did a lot of painting on canvas, shale, and wooden items. Polly Corcuera said that her mother’s favorite things to draw or paint were horses and winter scenes. “She was doing a lot of painting before her dementia set in,” said her daughter.

Mrs. Preston Corcuera also loved to garden –– both vegetables and flowers –– with her husband. “This is an activity they shared,” said Smith. “They have the most beautiful peony bushes lining the walk-way to their front door.”

“We’re all going to miss her,” her daughter said. “She was a kind, loving person. She really tried to be a good person.”

“I figure she’s in a better place now with her sister and her parents –– probably enjoying every minute,” Ms. Smith said. “She will be missed very much. Gone, but definitely not forgotten.”


Besides her husband, Richard P. Corcuera, and daughter, Polly Corcuera, both of Baldwinsville, N.Y., she is survived by three daughters and a son from a previous marriage: Judy Kay Browder, Jeannie Sutter, Janie Spillman, and Todd Cutbirth, all of Texas. She is also survived by many grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-grandchildren, great-nieces, and great-nephews.

Her sister, Judith Preston Heald, died before her in 2010. Her parents, Otis S. and Margaret Ballard Preston, also died before her.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, July 15, at 2 p.m. at Falardeau Funeral Home in Baldwinsville, N.Y. Burial will be at Riverview Cemetery in Baldwinsville. Calling hours on Friday are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ward Ellery Stangel

EAST BERNE — Ward Ellery Stangel, who made an impression as an honest and faithful man, died on Tuesday, July 5, 2011. He was 79.

Born in Albany, Mr. Stangel was raised in New Salem by his mother, the late Leona Stangel, and his father, the late Stanley C. Stangel, who worked as a repairman.

Mr. Stangel had a quiet nature, said his wife, Irene Relyea Stangel. “Probably, that’s what I noticed first,” she said — the couple met in high school.

Shortly after they became engaged, she said, he was called into service and was sent with the United States Army to Korea. He was there when the armistice was signed and said the soldiers shot off their extra ammunition, making it look like the Fourth of July, she said. The couple married the following August.

Mr. Stangel went to work in the mailroom at Iroquois Millwork, which was later sold to Brockway Smith. He retired as a salesman, having worked a route that covered parts of Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. He liked the work, Mrs. Stangel said, adding, “Ward always enjoyed the people.”

The couple first made a home in an old house in Castleton, but spent most of their 56 years of marriage in a log house that they built in East Berne, where they raised three children.

They later moved to Henderson County, N.C., where they build a horse-boarding facility in the shell of an old barn. Their daughter, Janet Stangel, was the impetus for the project, Mrs. Stangel said, explaining, “She loved horses from the time she could turn pages in a book.”

Mr. Stangel “was from the old school,” his wife said of his work ethic. He believed that, when you worked for someone, “You do it to the best of your ability,” she said.

“People generally saw him as being honest and faithful,” she concluded.


Mr. Stangel is survived by his wife of 56 years, Irene Relyea Stangel; his daughter, Janet Stangel, of Mills River, N.C.; his sons, David Stangel and his wife, Susan, and Martin Stangel, of Mills River, N.C. He is also survived by his sister, Barbara Vincent and her husband, James, of Keene, N.H., and by his granddaughter, Breanna Stangel.

A memorial service was held on July 11 at the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, Black Mountain, with Gary Fullam officiating. Military honors were provided by Buncombe County Veterans Memorial Team.

Memorial contributions may be made to Four Seasons Elizabeth House, 581 S. Allen Rd., Flat Rock, NC 28731.

-— Saranac Hale Spencer

Robert B. Deats

DUANESBURG — Robert B. Deats, a dairy farmer and devoted husband and father, died on Thursday, June 30, 2011. He was 79.

Mr. Deats was born on Oct. 12, 1931, in West Berne, the son of the late Wesley (Bob) L. and Alice D. (Ensminger) Deats.
He graduated from Draper High School, and married his lifelong companion, Marilyn, in 1952. Together, they ran their dairy farm.

To supplement their income, Mr. Deats drove a school bus for the Duanseburg Central School District, where he eventually became the superintendent of buildings and grounds until his retirement in 1993. He also drove for the Duanesburg Volunteer Ambulance Corps for 14 years.

He was a devoted husband and father.

“His greatest joys were derived from the time he spent with his family and from being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for over 60 years,” wrote his family in a tribute. In addition to his door-to-door ministry and delivery of public Bible discourses, he volunteered in the construction of meeting places of Jehovah’s Witnesses across New York State.

He also served with the greater Albany area Hospital Liaison Committee for a number of years, promoting and coordinating better communication between doctors and patients.

Mr. Deats is survived by his wife of 59 years, Marilyn; his daughter, Linda Barford, and her husband, John; two brothers, Richard Deats, of Cobleskill, and Donald Deats, of Clarks Summit, Pa.; two aunts, Beebe Shufelt of Rensselaerville and Tiny Mudge, of Catskill; and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1720 Albany St., Schenectady. Interment will be private at the convenience of the family.

Yolanda Della Rocco

ALTAMONT — Yolanda Della Rocco, a mother who gave love and was loved in return, died on Wednesday, July 6, 2011, in New Port Richey, Fla. She was 97.

“It almost sounds like a cliché,” said her daughter, Patricia Hall of Altamont, “but she was the kind of mother everybody would want to have. She was a great Italian mother and grandmother. She made her own pasta. She was creative, accepting, loving, and patient. You could just be who you were and it was OK.”

Mrs. Della Rocco was born on Sept. 22, 1913 to Ida and Leonard LoRusso in Providence, R.I. She was married on Dec. 28, 1941 in Brooklyn to the late Dominick Della Rocco of Mineola, Long Island.

She raised her family in Queens and Long Island until 1983, when she moved to Altamont, to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Patricia and Robert Hall, and her granddaughter, Lauren Hall.

“She is survived by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren and had the joy of watching them grow and being an integral part of their lives,” wrote her family in a tribute.

“Yolanda was instantly loved by all who met her. She was a beautiful person on the outside as well as the inside,” her family said. “In addition to her immediate family, there are many who will continue to refer to her as ‘Nana.’ She was everybody’s Nana in the community and wherever she visited. She accepted people for who they were, and they, in turn, consistently loved her back. Yolanda was also extremely creative and loved to sew, knit and crochet.”

Her family concluded, “Yolanda will best be remembered for her many afghans, hats, mittens, and scarves, as well as her patience, humor, kindness, and her beautiful smile.”

“Everybody truly, truly loved her,” said her daughter.


Yolanda Della Rocco is survived by two daughters, Patricia Hall and her husband, Robert, of Altamont; Laura Gorman and her husband, John, of New Port Richey, Fla.; and a son, Thomas Della Rocco, of Franklin Square, Long Island.

She is also survived by many grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

A funeral service was held Sunday, July 10, at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont with interment in Calverton National Cemetery in Long Island.

Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of choice.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

Rafael Nieves mourned
Guilderland soldier
killed in Afghanistan

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — “Bright smile, big heart” — words used to describe Rafael A. Nieves Jr., the 22-year-old soldier who died in Afghanistan on July 10.

“He worked really hard. He struggled to get through school,” said Lisa Patierne, an assistant principal at Guilderland High School who worked with Spc. Nieves and admired his smile and heart. “He didn’t do things the easy way,” she said.

After living with his mother, Tina R. Roman, in New Jersey, he moved to Guilderland when he was 14 to live with his father, Rafael A. Nieves Sr. “He turned his life around,” said Ms. Patierne. “He married his high-school sweetheart.”

Nieves married another Guilderland High School student, Sarah A. McKinney. They have a young daughter, Emma Grace Nieves, and an infant son, Rafael A. Nieves III.

Specialist Nieves, an infantryman, was on a mounted patrol in Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan, a remote, war-torn province bordering Pakistan, when, according to the United States Department of Defense, he died “of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fires.”

As of Tuesday, 1,550 American soldiers had died in Afghanistan, including 1,287 like Spc. Nieves, killed in action, according to the Department of Defense.

Nieves had attended Guilderland High School from January 2005 to September 2007, said Ms. Patierne. “The traditional school environment was not easy for him,” she said. “We worked hard with him and with his father to help him.”

While at Guilderland, Spc. Nieves had a close-knit group of friends, which included his younger brother, Matthew. “His brother said he had talked about going into the military since he was a kid; that was what he always wanted to do,” said Ms. Patierne who had spoken with the family this week. He was due to come home in two weeks, she said.

Ms. Patierne described the family members as “still in shock” as they waited in Maryland on Monday for the return of his body. The family is planning to hold a service in New Jersey; the high school currently has no plans for a memorial service, she said.

Spc. Nieves earned his GED (General Education Diploma) from the State Education Department, said Ms. Patierne. He joined the Army in August 2009 and arrived at Fort Campbell in Kentucky in December 2009, according to the Department of Defense. His wife and children live in Oak Grove, Ky. Spc. Nieves was assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

His awards and decorations include: Army Commendation Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star; North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; and Army Service Ribbon.

“I’m just so proud of how he got through and was on the right path,” said Ms. Patierne. “His brother said he was very happy….It’s just very sad that this is what had to happen.”

She also said, “As parents, as educators, you watch the news and you see these young boys and young ladies coming home this way, and it touches you. I have a hard time watching it when I don’t even know them. And the fact that you know this boy — or this man now, this man — you’ve worked with him and you had a relationship with him, it really makes the war hit home.”

Kathleen Ann Harrington

Kathleen Ann Harrington of Hendersonville, Tenn. died on Saturday, July 2, 2011. She was 72.

She is survived by her daughter, Jeanne Rose; her sons, Artie Trenholme and Chris Trenholme; her sister, Mary Claire Ingalls; her brother-in-law, Edwin Trenholme; her grandchildren, Michelle Bailey, Amanda Felts, Jason Felts, Alvin Felts, A.J. Trenholme, and Tony Trenholme; and her great-grandchildren, Joshua Milliken, Grace Felts, Dillon Bailey, Anthony Felts, Katie Felts, and Christopher Felts.

A memorial service was held on July 9 at St. Joseph of Arimathea Episcopal Church in Hendersonville. Friends and family gathered for a wake after the memorial. At her request, she will be cremated with services provided by Nashville Funeral and Cremation Service.

Michael J. Tommaney II

LATHAM — Michael J. Tommaney II died suddenly on Tuesday, June 28, 2011. He was 42.

Born in Albany to Michael J. Tommaney and the late Judy Ann C. (Eckam) Tommaney, he was a graduate of Bishop Maginn High School. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Siena College in Loudonville.

Mr. Tommaney was a computer programmer with Tyler Technologies, formerly Versatrans, for over 20 years.

He attended Loudonville Community Church. He was proud of his Irish heritage and was fluent in five languages, including Gaelic.

“He was a bright, loving, generous, thoughtful, and kind person who will be missed by all who knew him,” wrote his family in a tribute.

Mr. Tommaney is survived by his loving parents, Michael J. and Sandra Tommaney of Albany; his brother, Mark D. Tommaney, of Myrtle Beach, S.C.; his sister, Suzanne M. Tommaney, of Albany; and by his beloved fiancée, Debra Booher, and step-daughter, Danielle Booher, both of Latham, as well as many aunts, uncles, cousins, close friends, and co-workers.

“Michael was truly loved by his family and Debra and Danielle,” the tribute said.
Funeral services were held on July 2 at the Daniel Keenan Funeral Home, Inc. in Albany. Interment was in the St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands.

Memorial contributions may be made to Samaritan’s Purse, Post Office Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607-3000 or to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, care of NENY Region, 33 Everett Rd., Albany, NY 12205 or American Cancer Society, 260 Osborne Rd., Loudonville, NY 12211.

James W. Larche

GUILDERLAND — James W. Larche, a Guilderland native who found a home in the deserts of Arizona, was always grateful for whatever life brought him.

“He was kind of a quiet man,” said his brother, Rev. Jeffrey L’Arche of the La Salette Shrine in Altamont. “Often times, he did not throw himself at people in terms of expressing his opinion about a lot of things. One thing about him is, he always appreciated any act of kindness towards him, whether it was a small gift, or anybody giving time or attention to him. It was as if someone gave him a million dollars. He was never belligerent, arrogant, never tried to push his ideas on people or anything like that.”

Mr. Larche died on May 21, 2011. He was 61.

Mr. Larche graduated from Guilderland High School in June 1968, and from the State University of New York College of Technology at Delhi in June 1970 with an associate of arts and sciences degree in hotel and restaurant management. He also attended the University of Nevada, where he studied hotel and restaurant management, and later attended Phoenix College in Phoenix, Ariz. for additional credits.

His academic background aided in his encouragement of his niece and goddaughter, Erin Ford, who always succeeded in her studies thanks to her uncle, said Rev. L’Arche.

“In a sense, he was like a substitute father,” Rev. L’Arche said of his brother, “because she lost her father when she was just a tot. He was a real father figure for her.”

Mr. Larche worked at Pinehaven Country Club during his senior year of high school, and later worked for the New York State Senate in the mailroom and document room, and as a messenger. He also worked for the United Bank of Arizona as a student loan administrative assistant, and for New York State from November of 1976 through January of 2001 in student loan administration. And, he was a shop steward in the Civil Service Employees’ Association.

After retiring as a state worker, Mr. Larche bought a house in San Tan Valley, Ariz. in March 2008, in a brand new subdivision in the desert. He had previously owned a house on Cherry Lane in Guilderland. Mr. Larche enjoyed the study of languages, particularly Spanish.

“He lived in Arizona about 30 years ago, for about 10 or 12 years, and was there the past three years, in part of the greater Phoenix area,” his brother said. “A majority of the people were Spanish-speaking. And he liked the Southwest, the whole ambiance there, that whole Western kind of thing.”

Mr. Larche was recognized in his subdivision in Arizona as having the most beautifully maintained yard and home, which he had designed and furnished himself, and he was written a letter about what a shining example he was in his neighborhood. He was later asked if his home could be viewed by prospective buyers in his subdivision, as it was a fine example of Southwest design, inside and out, his brother said.

Despite settling in the desert, Mr. Larche was an avid ice hockey player and swimmer. He enjoyed watching Arizona football on television.

He was part of a program that gave temporary homes to foster dogs, and later became the proud owner of Felecia and Kiana, two Akita dogs. He also owned numerous cats, including Caleb and Smokey.

He trained Felicia, his first Akita, as a therapy dog, and would visit nursing homes in the Capital Region with her to cheer up the residents. He also helped out his parents with house and yard maintenance and, in later years, was very attentive to them at the nursing home, said his brother.

Mr. Larche enjoyed trips to Cape Cod in the summer, and, for many years, had a seasonal camp at Prospect Lake Park in Massachusetts. There, he won a certificate as “Chef of the Year” in a 1999 chili cook-off. He also organized many annual activities at Prospect Lake Park for his fellow campers, such as dances, festivals, parties, and events.

His brother wrote, “Jim once said to his sister, Linda, as they were out on Prospect Lake rowing in his boat, that he would like his ashes scattered over the lake, which was his favorite place.

“When his sister, Lyn, had trials or tribulations in her life, she was always able to lean on the strong shoulders of her older brother Jim,” Rev. L’Arche wrote, “and from childhood on, they shared their lives with one another.”


In addition to his brother, Rev. Jeffrey L’Arche of Altamont, Mr. Larche is survived by his sister, Linda Ford, of San Tan Valley, Ariz.; his niece, Erin Ford, of Ballston Spa; and numerous cousins and friends.

Arrangements are by the Queen of Heaven Mortuary in Mesa, Ariz., and the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

Since Thanksgiving was Mr. Larche’s favorite holiday, a liturgy of Christian Death and Burial will take place at the La Salette Shrine in Altamont in November.

Burial will be at the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Guilderland in the family plot.

Jonathan P. Rasa

RENSSELAERVILLE — Jonathan Rasa was a young man known for a sense of humor that could light up a room, and for his skills as a handyman.

“He was always joking,” said his sister, Tattiana Gandolfo. “When he walked into a room, you knew he was around because there were always people laughing. He was like a big kid.”

Mr. Rasa died in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Saturday, July 7, 2011, at his family’s home in Rensselaerville, while visiting from Las Vegas, Nev. He was 26.

“He loved to fix things,” his sister went on. “We called him the ‘super genius’ because he knew how to fix everything, whether it was computers, quads…Maintaining anything; fixing whatever needed to be fixed; anything mechanical, technological; he always surpassed our knowledge. Whenever you needed tech support, you called him rather than tech support.”

Mr. Rasa was born on St. James, Long Island, to Margaret and the late Todor Rasa.

“Jonathan should be remembered by his loving and generous heart, and that he accomplished everything that he was meant to accomplish in his life, and more,” his sister concluded. “We want to thank the volunteers that came to his aid this weekend: the fire department and the police. They were more than kind to my mom, and we wanted to thank them for their generosity, because she found him,” Mrs. Gandolfo said of her mother, “and she was alone.”


In addition to his sister, Tattiana Gandolfo, Mr. Rasa is survived by his brother, Ted; his sister-in-law, Jennifer Rasa; and his brother-in-law, John Gandolfo.

He is also survived by his nieces, Jasmine and Alexandra.

Friends called at the Bryant Funeral Home, in East Setauket, on Tuesday, July 12, and Wednesday, July 13.

A funeral service will be held at noon today, Thursday, July 14, at the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Setauket, N.Y.

Interment will be at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Port Jefferson, N.Y.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Monastery of the Holy Cross Church.

Arrangements by Bryant Funeral Home in East Setauket.

— Zach Simeone

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