Día de los Muertos

All Souls Day

Día de los Muertos is Part Two of 70 who have passed, which began yesterday.

Please come to hear a special choir concert on November 3 at 6 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 362 State Street, Albany, NY. The choir will sing Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, a 30-minute work with orchestra.

Margaret Lia: The den mother of my Cub Scout troop and mom of one of my best friends in elementary school and junior high.

Darby Penney: She wanted to save the world. Very occasionally, I tried to help.

Bonnie Deschane: She would clean our house some weekends. She was less good at the cleaning thing and better at the friend thing.

Robert Yates: My mother’s youngest first cousin; he was only seven years older than I was. Though we saw him only twice a year when I was growing up – I was in Binghamton, he was in Queens, NYC – he was the closest thing to an older sibling I had.

Paul Peca: Our sixth-grade teacher let us, even encouraged us to disagree with him. He supported Barry Goldwater for President and agreed with the US dropping the bomb on Hiroshima.

Comic books

Phil Seuling: Seagate was FantaCo’s primary comic book distributor, and he and Jonni Levas were Seagate. I went to a couple of his lavish parties in Brooklyn. Phil lived large.

Freda Gardner: I didn’t know that the nice older lady at church was a legend in the Presbyterian Church USA. Her wise counsel was invaluable when she and I were on pastor Glenn’s congregational team to aid him in his doctoral quest.

Tim Ryan-Pepper: Music was our bond

Sinon O’Neil: Every time I saw him, he always cheered us with questions about current events joyfully. And he was a crafty card player.

Helen Foley: The Binghamton Central High School public speaking and drama teacher and Rod Serling’s mentor was also involved with theater with my father.

Stan Moore: When I was church shopping in 1982, he gave the sermon at Trinity UMC on June 13 that got me to come back. But I avoided his vicelike handshake.

Paul Crowder: The choir director when I joined the Trinity UMC choir after not singing for over a decade.

Samuel Walker: When items were discovered in the possession of my father’s mother’s father that a good Christian man presumably should not own, it rocked my mother’s theological underpinning.

Charlie Kite: a First Pres church member and a physician.  He was particularly effusive when he knew he was dying,

Donna George: She tried to do good things but often wasn’t taken seriously. Beleaguered would be the term I’d used. We bonded over this.

Margaret Hannay was the epitome of hospitality and grace. She was also brilliant.

A force

Ken Screven: A great local journalist and a fellow Times Union blogger for a time.

Lillian Johnson: Before my time there, she was the associate pastor at Trinity UMC. We fought the good fight, getting the then-current pastor to change his ways.

Fred Goodall: the youth choir director at Trinity AME Zion for many years.

Arnold Berman: my mother’s Charlotte’s brother, genealogist of the Berman/Barosin tribe.

Ida Berman: Charlotte’s sister, who used to take me to New York City art galleries and museums. She was a fine photographer.

Alice Schrade: an older member of First Pres. We adored each other. We’d have great philosophical conversations about race, justice, and other topics.

Arlene Mahigian: When I joined the Trinity UMC choir, she adopted me. She would take my robe home to wash, though I didn’t ask her. She had a tremendous soprano voice.

Keith Barber: We kept crossing paths on CDTA buses for which he was a ride evaluator, in Bible study, where he was the purveyor of a specific text, and as a raconteur.

Richard Powell: my father-in-law. I loved going to minor league baseball games with him. His love for jazz and country music I didn’t appreciate until after he died when I inherited part of his CD collection.

Robert Pennock: a baritone in the Trinity UMC choir, he was wise regarding Methodist polity.


Marcheta Hamlin: the organist at Trinity AME Zion who tried to teach me piano. My wife met her and commented on how warm and wonderful she was.

Agatha Green: My paternal grandmother died when i was 11. I’ve since learned so much about her courage and character.

Fran Allee: She was an educator and cook at Trinity UMC. Several of us traveled to her cottage, about an hour away each summer.

Mike Attwell: My racquetball competitor long before I joined him in the First Pres choir.

Adenia Yates: my mother’s maternal aunt, a buffer between me and her sister. She and I watched JEOPARDY, played cards and SCRABBLE.

Pat Wilson: A friend of my father, with whom I talked theology extensively.

Gertrude Williams: My maternal grandmother was a superstitious and controlling person who attempted to pass it along to her grandchildren; my sister and Leslie bought into it, but baby sister Marcia rightly ignored her.

Charlotte Yates: the mother of four of my mother’s first cousins. She had a strong sense of politics and art.

Jim Kalas: I knew from both work and Trinity UMC.

McKinley Green: Thanks to Pop, I got on TV a lot as a kid.


Raoul Vezina: Ever since I became the de facto keeper of the FantaCo flame, Raou never goes away, even though he died in 1983.

Gladys Crowder: We were in two choirs together at Trinity UMC and First Pres.

Trudy Green: Increasingly, I suspect there was more there than my mom showed. She’s mentioned a lot on February 2 (the anniversary of her death), November 17 (her birthday), Mother’s Day.

Norman Nissen: racquetball partner, book suggestion-maker,  best man at my last wedding.

Les Green: My dad was a really complicated guy. He shows up on Father’s Day, August 10 (the anniversary of his death), and September 25 (the day before his birthday).

I can quickly think of a dozen more, but I will let it be.

70 who have passed

Lux Aeterna

70 who have passed has two origins. One was Chuck Miller, who wrote about 60 deceased people he remembered, for good or ill, on his 60th birthday in August. This intrigued me, so I mentioned it to my sisters during a weekly Zoom meeting. Leslie said that at an icebreaker, someone suggested discussing someone who influenced your life.

My birthday was in March, so I’ve decided to write about this on November 1, All Saints Day, and November 2, All Souls’ Day, part of the  Día de los Muertos. 

I don’t mean this to be a definitive list. Undoubtedly, I’ve left off someone. Also, some people are probably deceased or 110; I didn’t scour obituaries.

Related: There will be a special choir concert on the First Friday, November 3rd, at 6 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 362 State Street, Albany, NY. The choir will sing Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, a 30-minute work with orchestra. It sets many of the Requiem texts. This will be a concert of remembrance for the many in our choir and community members lost in the last several years.

Jimmy Rocco: Even before he was a choir guy, we always talked about music.

Will McMorris: He was a guy from my current church, First Pres Albany, whose life was more interesting, complicated, and painful than I had realized. The fact that he felt comfortable enough sharing it during an adult education class at church pleased me.

Mary Backus Dye: I knew her in kindergarten, then she moved away. I reconnected with her online and discovered she’s related to me on my father’s side. 

Violet Keleshian: a member of the First Pres choir who prepared great Middle Eastern food.

Mary Durkot: A childhood friend’s mom who LOVED seeing that I had a child.


Bernie Massar: I last saw him at our 35th high school reunion. He almost certainly died from fighting fires.

Greg O’Neil: A younger brother of a high school friend, he had Type 1 diabetes and injected himself regularly, very matter-of-factly. I assumed that if I had to do that to myself, I could, but I’m far from certain.

Elinor Brownstein: When I worked at the Schenectady Arts Council in 1978, she was one of the Ladybugs who educated and entertained kids in the school. We stayed in contact for years.

Donald Yates: One of my mother’s first cousins, whom we saw often, given we were four hours away.

Garland Hamlin: One of the pillars of my first church, Trinity AME Zion, growing up. He also was on my draft board. When I was 19 and appealing to get conscientious objector status, he acted as though he didn’t know me, which I found instructive. 

Robert Lamar: The pastor at First Pres when I was attending Trinity UMC. When I would see him at a FOCUS service, he was particularly warm and friendly. More importantly, he was a legend in positive social activism.

Mary Ellenbogen: She was our neighbor. Her house was immaculate inside and out. In her mid-80s, she was an avid gardener. She died trying to save her husband from drowning.


Constance Whitfield: My godmother always seemed critical of me when I was a kid, and we’d be at some church conference. When I saw her in Binghamton at a funeral in the mid-1980s, she asked me what church I was attending. I told her, and she snapped, “Isn’t that the WHITE church?” I never saw her again.

Dwight Smith: A significant leader in PCUSA circles. Choir member. He never figured out how to mute himself when we were doing Bible study on ZOOM, and he’d receive a call from his doctor.

Susan Easton: First Pres choir member and the point person for choir hospitality.

Greg Haymes: a/k/a Sarge Blotto

Sandy Cohen: the tenor soloist at Trinity UMC with an outsized personality. At a funeral I attended in 2023, I was talking with his widow about how we got Sandy the funeral they wanted for him despite the resistance of the pastor.

Albert Wood: My wife knew him from a previous work situation, while my relationship with him was music at First Pres.

Matt Staccone: He was a counselor at the local (Albany) Small Business Development Center. Twice a year, he invited me to speak to a group of his clients, sharing tips on how to find demographic information. This was a significant change of pace from my daily reference work. Also, there was a racquetball court at one of his work locations, and I would beat him regularly.

Hugh Nevin: The acting pastor at my church before I attended there. I knew him from his booming bass voice and steadying presence.

Jack White: the husband of my wife’s cousin, he, my FIL, and I could talk baseball forever, which we tended to do at the Olin Family reunion. I’ve acquired some of his books on the sport.


Stacy Wilburn: After Sandy Cohen died, I joined Q in trying to hold down the tenor section at Trinity UMC until reinforcements came.

Joe Sinnott: Not only one of the comic book industry’s greatest inkers but one of the sweetest, least pretentious human beings I’ve ever known.

Irwin Corey: Seeing our near-relative on the TV was always entertaining. In person, he was even more irascible.

Marion Motisher: My dear friend, a retired librarian from the Trinity choir. She died on March 4, 1992. Three days later, I was a pallbearer on my 39th birthday, the last time I got intentionally drunk.

Paul Weinstein: A fellow dad of two kids my daughter’s age. He did anything for them. And he admired me greatly for some reason.

Leo Mahigian: Once the concertmaster of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, I knew him when his wife became sick.

Gloria Wood: She made a blanket for my then-baby daughter and a lot more for others.

Tom Hoffman: A political junkie of the first order. But he opined with great humor and wit. My wife recently said she wonders what he would have thought of djt.

John Powell: My wife’s brother. An advocate for me between the first and second times she and I dated.


More tomorrow.


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