Charldine M. “Chickie” Meisner
BERNE — A private yet generous woman, Charldine M. Meisner — known to friends and family as “Chickie” — had a passion for cars.
“She liked cars and she liked to go to the races,” said her companion, Frank Bruckman. “We’d go to Fonda or Accord and she enjoyed every minute.”
Ms. Meisner died unexpectedly on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at Albany Medical Center. She was 50.
Mr. Bruckman, whose friends call him “Corky,” is a mechanic at Pritchard Enterprizes in Knox, specializing in Subarus.
“She was always helping me in the garage — getting parts for Karl, holding the lead light, handing me a wrench,” said Mr. Bruckman. Working together, he said, was “unbelievable…It was great.”
The two had known each other for 30 years, said Mr. Bruckman, and had been a couple for the last several years.
“There’s an automotive gene in the family,” said Ms. Meisner’s niece Stephanie Haas.
Ms. Meisner particularly liked Subarus. “Only a Subaru — that’s all she would drive,” said her niece Tammy Haas.
Ms. Meisner was born on June 1, 1963, the daughter of Charles and Geraldine (née Lawyer) Meisner in Albany. Her father had been in the military and then worked in the automotive business, and her mother was a homemaker, said Tammy Haas. “She stayed home and babysat neighborhood kids,” she said of Geraldine Meisner.
Chickie Meisner lived in the Hilltowns for most of her life and was a graduate of Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School. Even in high school, she liked working with cars more than social pursuits.
“She was a sweetheart,” said Frieda Mansfield, Ms. Meisner’s sister-in-law, who knew her since she was a girl.
Carefully tucked away in a case in her purse, Ms. Mansfield carries pictures of Ms. Meisner from her youth. One shows a pretty girl with straight blonde pigtails. Another, which the family chose to print with her obituary, shows her as a beautiful young woman ready to graduate from high school.
“I always had her over to the house,” said Ms. Mansfield. “She was such a good kid…She was a little bit older than my children. She helped with the kids.”
Her nieces recalled how, as children, their aunt tickled them. “She’d tickle us and tickle us until we said, ‘We love you, Aunt Chickie,’” recalled Tammy Haas.
“If you didn’t say it, she wasn’t stopping,” agreed Stephanie Haas, giggling at the memory.
After graduation, Ms. Meisner chose to stay in the Hilltowns where she relished the privacy. “She loved it here,” said Tammy Haas. “She definitely wasn’t a city person. She’d have it no other way.”
In recent years, Ms. Meisner worked as a tax preparer for H&R Block in Rotterdam. “She loved the work…She was good with numbers,” said Mr. Bruckman. “It was very challenging. People would come to her with problems that others couldn’t fix, and she could.”
Ms. Meisner was known for her generosity.
“She’d give you the shirt off her back and do anything for you,” said Tammy Haas. “All of us, growing up, she spoiled every one of her nieces and nephews.”
Two weeks ago, at a family get-together, as Stephanie Haas pulled up in her car, she recalled, Ms. Meisner noted “something was wrong with my car….something with the wheel. She said, ‘We’ll fix that for you.’ I thought we’d get together in a few weeks,” said Stephanie Haas, her voice trailing off.
She also recalled how earlier, when Ms. Meisner had been hospitalized, she acted spontaneously out of generosity. “She hadn’t eaten for days and they finally let her have some food, some Jell-O,” said her niece.
Stephanie Haas and her young daughter, Lexi, arrived at that moment for a hospital visit. “Lexi spotted the Jell-O and wanted it, and she just handed it over,” recalled Stephanie Haas.
“Aunt Chickie was so nice,” said 3 1/2-year old Lexi Novella Haas. “She played with us kids.”
Ms. Meisner also had a fondness for dogs.
She enjoyed taking Mr. Bruckman’s dogs — first Bristol and then, after Bristol died, Gracie — for car rides, and getting them treats.
“She has always loved any dog,” said Stephanie Haas. “She had a love of animals.”
Ms. Meisner favored songs, like those by Elton John, from the sixties and seventies, Mr. Bruckman said, and she liked to wear silver and turquoise jewelry, her nieces said, some of which she made herself.
“It was her trademark,” said Tammy Haas, explaining the family had chosen a silver urn at the funeral home for that reason.
Her nieces spoke in tandem, one after the other, as they tried to find the words to describe their Aunt Chickie’s personality.
“She was straight-up honest,” said Tammy Haas.
“She was loving but not too sweet,” said Stephanie Haas.
“She didn’t hold back anything,” said Tammy Haas.
“She wasn’t politically correct,” said Stephanie Haas
“Regardless of whether you wanted to hear it or not,” said Tammy Haas, “she’d tell you what was good for you.”
Charldine M. “Chickie” Meisner is survived by her daughter, Leah Eastman; her companion, Frank “Corky” Bruckman; her brothers, Al Meisner and Bob Haas; her nephews and great-nephews, Charlie Meisner and Jeff and Robby Haas, and Joshua Haas; and her nieces and great-nieces, Dee Dee and Cassidy Meisner, Tammy Haas, and Stephanie and Lexi Haas; as well as several cousins.
Calling hours will be held at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 3 to 5 p.m.
— Melissa Hale-Spencer