Marion E. “Skippy” Weiss Klapp
NEW SALEM — An active community and church volunteer, Marion E. “Skippy” Weiss Klapp, died peacefully surrounded by family members on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, at her home in New Salem. She was 87.
Born in Albany on July 7, 1926, she was one of four siblings and the daughter of P. Henry Weiss and Ella Viola Clother Weiss.
A devoted mother of four children, Mrs. Klapp was also a dedicated volunteer throughout her life, lending a hand at several not-for-profit community groups, church programs, and helping out at the Voorheesville Central School.
“She had a kind demeanor. She never had a bad thing to say about anyone. Always giving, always kind, always helpful,” said her daughter Robin Burch.
Mrs. Klapp grew up at 269 Sand Creek Road in west Albany. She graduated from Albany High School in 1944 and her first job was working for the General Electric Company to support the war effort.
In her youth, Mrs. Klapp learned to play the piano and had a love of music all her life.
Growing up Mrs. Burch remembered the family always had a piano and often sang together. Her mother made sure she also took lessons and as an adult Mrs. Burch still plays and has a piano in her home. Mrs. Klapp was also an organist at St. John’s Chapel.
After the war, she married an Army veteran, Robert “Robbie” Klapp. The two were wed on March 28, 1948 and moved into a home Mr. Klapp had built for his bride. The new house was located in the hamlet of New Salem, across the street from the Klapps’ family farm.
The couple would live at the farm for the rest of their lives, raising four children — Barbara, Marion, George and Robin. The Klapps’ marriage lasted 63 years, until Mr. Klapp died on Nov. 4, 2011.
In 1963, the family moved from their home into the farmhouse across the street, taking over daily operation of the farm, which had been in the Klapp family since 1930.
The farm remained active until about 1970. The family kept a few cows for milking and beef, a number of chicken and ducks, about 50 or 60 hogs, and raised several cash crops, such as cabbage, wheat, and potatoes.
Though the farm declined in later decades, the family continued to harvest some crops and hay, said Mrs. Klapp’s son, George Klapp.
He and his family settled on the farm, building a home there and often visited with his parents.
“One of the reasons we bought this was so my mom and dad could sit on their front porch and watch us make hay,” said Mr. Klapp. “It’d been in the family for so long, it was important for them to see it passed on.”
“My mom loved the country life,” he said.
While his father’s passion was tilling the soil, his mother’s was baking the bread. Mrs. Klapp was known in the family for preparing all kinds of delicious homemade meals, with vegetables pulled from the garden, livestock taken from the farm, or game hunted by her husband.
“It was a passion of hers. She did it to feed us, not necessarily as a hobby. She used to can peaches, make strawberry jam, and her own spaghetti sauce — all the things done on a family farm. Dad was a hunter and he’d bring back a rabbit and she’d make rabbit stew,” said her son.
“We’d come home from school or anywhere, and the house always smelled amazing,” recalled Mrs. Burch. “I remember I tried to learn from her and she was making bread. I took the bread and put it into a cake pan and I thought it would turn into cake. I was about 8.”
Despite the youthful oversight, Mrs. Burch said her mother was always supportive.
Mr. George Klapp remembered his mother chasing away his temptation to smoke cigarettes with a broom.
When he was about 12 years old, Mr. Klapp and an older, “infamous character” would ride their bikes to a remote spot where the other boy would try to teach him how to smoke cigarettes.
“Mom smelled the smoke on me and knew who it was. She came outside with a broom in hand and chased him off. She told him to never again go near ‘my little Georgy,’” recalled her son. Mr. Klapp is not a smoker and admitted part of the reason was because he “didn’t dare” anger his mother again.
When Mrs. Klapps’ youngest child began elementary school, she got her driver’s license at age 32 so she could start a career. For 17 years, she worked for New York State, employed in several different departments before retiring early to care for her aging mother.
The family said Mrs. Klapp was an exceptionally talented woman because she was able to balance her responsibilities as a farmer’s wife, mother and active participant in church and community activities.
She excelled in music, sewing, needlework, cooking, baking, and much more, she said. She shared these talents in many ways by making clothes for herself and her children. She also knitted baby blankets and Christmas stockings. Mrs. Klapp prepared food and worked at the baked-goods booth at the New Salem Fire Department’s annual Punkintown Fair, and assisted with making banners that still hang in the hall at the First Lutheran Church in Albany, 50 years later.
One of Mrs. Klapp’s last projects was to knit each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren baby afghans.
“She knit one for each great-grandchild, even for the one who isn’t here yet,” said Mrs. Burch, explaining her daughter is five months pregnant.
Mrs. Klapp’s faith was an important part of her life and she was a longtime member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Albany, where she was a youth group advisor. She was a Sunday school teacher and organist at St. John’s Chapel. She also attended services at St. Paul’s in Berne and rejoined St. John’s in the last years of her life.
A warm and loving person, Mrs. Klapp devoted herself to family and attended virtually every school assembly, play, concert, sporting competition, graduation ceremony, or other important event. She remembered each family member with cards on their birthdays, including children, spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Klapp was a dedicated Voorheesville sports fan, going to great lengths to support her children and grandchildren in their activities, even traveling to Norway with her husband to watch her grandson play basketball.
She and her husband were also avid league bowlers for many years. She was a member of the Business and Professional Women's Foundation and she was an election volunteer who worked local polls for several years.
Mrs. Klapp and her husband went on many bus trips over the years with the New Scotland Senior Citizens, traveling as far away as Nova Scotia and Michigan. She was a volunteer room mother at Voorheesville Elementary School and a member of the Home Bureau.
“The thing that makes her unique is she didn’t really have a hobby for herself,” said her son. “Her hobby was doing things for other people. Knitting, crocheting, it would always be for other people, the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She baked and cooked for the churches and things like that — it was always for everyone else, not for herself. She just loved spending time with family.”
Mrs. Klapp is survived by her children, Barbara Ellen Vartanian; Marion Elizabeth Dunk, and her husband, Howard; George Edward Klapp, and his wife, Judy; and Robin Edith Burch, and her husband, David.
She is also survived by her grandchildren, David Burch, and his wife, Jodi; Matthew Weir, and his wife, Katie; Daniel Burch; Jessica Weir; Melissa Savage, and her husband, Clay; Andrea Vamvas, and her husband, Nick; Helen Lavoie and, her husband, Chris; R. Nicholas Klapp; and Lila Dunk.
She is survived, too, by her great-grandchildren, Alexander Burch; Gabriel Weir; Nellie Burch; Miles Lavoie; and Makayla Savage; and her siblings, Millicent Van Zetten; Russell Weiss; and William Weiss.
Her husband, Robert Klapp, died before her, as did her parents, P. Henry Weiss and Ella Viola Clother Weiss; and her brother, Robert.
The funeral was Monday Oct 28, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Albany. Burial was at St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in Colonie. Arrangements were by the Reilly & Son Funeral Home of Voorheesville. Memorial contributions can be made to St. John’s Lutheran Church, 160 Central Ave., Albany, NY 12206 or to Community Hospice of Albany at 445 New Karner Rd., Albany, NY, 12205.
— Tyler Murphy