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Obituaries: Rathbun, Hoffman, Williams, Davis


Murray Rathbun (1947 – 2012)

HUDSON—Murray Winn Rathbun passed away unexpectedly July 17, 2012 at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Born November 28, 1947 in Troy, he was the son of the late Howard and Marion Winn Rathbun.

Mr. Rathbun was the beloved husband of Anne Eaton Rathbun; the devoted father of Scot (Sherry) Rathbun; dear brother of Whitney Rathbun; caring stepfather of Robert (Karen) Borovich and Laura (John) Leone; grandfather of Ashley-Rose Caldwell and Sara Rathbun; step-grandfather of Gregory (Kim) Leone, Hannah (Justin) Kipp, Christie (Christopher) Thomas and Jessica Borovich; step-great grandfather of Khalen Kipp, Haley Kipp and Landon Leone.

He was predeceased by his sister, Sandra Weeden.

He spent most of his life in Berlin having graduated from the Berlin Central School District. After graduation, Mr. Rathbun was drafted into the Marine Corps and he served in Vietnam.

Upon his return, he worked for a short time for Seagroatt’s Rose Company and then as an installer and repairman for Taconic Telephone until he retired.

Mr. Rathbun loved the outdoors, spending time scuba diving, fishing and hunting. He loved anything with black powder. He was a member of the Stephentown Veteran’s Organization and the Berlin Rod and Gun Club for more than 20 years.

A religious service was celebrated Saturday, July 21, 2012, at the French, Gifford, Preiter & Blasl Funeral Home, Chatham, interment followed with military honors at St. James Cemetery, Ghent.

Donations in Mr. Rathbun’s name may be made to St. Jude’s Hospital.

For directions or to send an online condolence visit

Walter Hoffman (1935 – 2012)

STEPHENTOWN—Walter Harry Hoffman, 77, of State Route 43 died Wednesday, July 18 at his residence after a courageous battle with cancer, with his loving family by his side under the care of Community Hospice of Rensselaer County.

Born June 19, 1935 in Hoosick Falls, he was the son of the late Walter Bernard Hoffman and Flora Lillian Downing.

He was educated in the Hoosick Falls Central School system and joined the National Guard at the age of 18, serving 6 years. He was also a member of the Hoosick Falls Fire Department while there.

Mr. Hoffman was employed at the Nancy Shoe factory in Hoosick Falls when he met the love of his life, Stella Sweener. They were married at St. Joseph’s Church in Stephentown April 25, 1959. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2009.

Mr. Hoffman enjoyed roller-skating when he was younger and in later years took pleasure in woodworking and creating gifts for his loved ones.

His work history included Nancy Shoe, Larabee Fuel, Avery Tractor/Samson, Ulysses Sweener Carpentry and the Carpenters’ Union Local #78. He worked at Zwack’s, Inc. in Stephentown as a machine operator until his retirement in 2009 after 30 years of service.

Survivors include: his loving wife of 53 years, Stella; daughters, Janice (Lloyd) Hartnett of Stephentown and Kathleen (John) Klein of Pittsfield, MA; sister, Linda K. Sweener of Stephentown; grandchildren, Nadina Hartnett, Rebecca Lane, Crystal Soncini, John Klein, Jr.; great-grandchildren, Codie Lane and Nolan Messenger.

Besides his parents, he was predeceased by two sisters, Lois M. Springer and  Pamela Sands.

A Liturgy of Christian Death and Burial will be celebrated by family friend, the Reverend John Close on Monday, July 23, 11 a.m. in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, 732 US Route 20, New Lebanon. Cremation will follow.

Relatives and friends are invited to visitation at the Hall & Higgins Funeral Home, 457 State Route 43, Stephentown, Sunday, July 22 from

3 to 6 p.m.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Mr. Hoffman may be made to the Community Hospice of Rensselaer County, 295 Valley View Boulevard, Rensselaer 12144.

Myrtle Williams (1921 – 2012)

RHINEBECK—Myrtle Helen Viger Williams, passed away from this world into the next after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease July 17, 2012. She resided at Archcare at Ferncliff in Rhinebeck for the last three years.

Born December 7, 1921 in Edmore, ND, she was the daughter of the late Martin and Helen (Markuson) Viger. She was the youngest of six children. After graduating as a registered nurse from Trinity Hospital in Minot, ND, she worked in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland, OR.

She loved her Norwegian heritage and telling stories about her experiences growing up on the farm in North Dakota. Mrs. Williams, called Mickey by her friends and Micca by her family, served in the Army Nurse Corps overseas during World War II as a second lieutenant.

After being discharged, she worked in the VA Hospital in Los Angeles, CA, where she met and married her husband, Walter F. Williams, April 5, 1946. He died March 3, 1979.

On returning to New York, Mrs. Williams worked as an RN at Albany Medical Center and St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, from where she retired.

Mrs. Williams is survived by: her daughter, Bonnie Sablinski of Beacon; three sons, Dennis and his wife Shirley, Ronnie and his wife Judith of Valatie, and Larry and his wife Barbara of Raleigh, NC; a sister-in-law, Esther Viger of Edmore, ND; her grandchildren, Edward, Michele, Dennis, Tara, Marc, Susan, Alysha, Matthew, Zachary, Elizabeth and Michelle; 19 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her grandson, Christopher Williams; a son-in-law, Ed Sablinski; sisters, Maimie Anda and Esther Kirkreit and brothers Earl, Gilbert and Lloyd Viger.

Mrs. Williams was a member of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Valatie.

Funeral services were held Saturday, July 21 at the Raymond E. Bond Funeral Home, Inc., Valatie, with the Reverend James Slater officiating.  Burial followed in Woodlawn Cemetery, Valatie.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Valatie Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 242, Valatie 12184 or St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Route 9, Valatie 12184. The family thanks the compassionate staff of Archcare, especially those on Unit 5A, for the respectful and attentive care given to Mrs. Williams.

Tom Davis (1952 – 2012)

LIVINGSTON—Thomas James Davis, 59, died at home in Livingston, July 19, 2012. The cause was cancer of the throat and neck.

He was born August 13, 1952 in Minneapolis, MN.

In high school, he met Al Franken, who became his comedy partner, lifelong friend and the Democratic Senator from Minnesota.

Franken and Davis were members of the original cast and writing team of Saturday Night Live (SNL), where Mr. Davis’ “quirky, original tone … helped shaped the show,” according to his New York Times obituary, which described him as “brilliant at improvisational comedy.” He wrote for SNL off and on until 2003.

He also co-wrote the film,The Coneheads, with Dan Ackroyd and Bonnie and Terry Turner, and wrote and starred in the film, One More Saturday Night, with Mr. Franken.

He went on to write about the SNL years in the 2009 memoir, Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss, and in Owsley and Me, co-authored with Rhoney Gissen Stanley, to be published next year.

He was also a sculptor, who made pieces with objects found in the Taghkanic Creek, which ran behind his house. They were exhibited last year in the windows of Incident Report on Warren Street in Hudson, and at a gallery in Woodstock.

Mr. Davis also wrote for OURTOWN, the Columbia County quarterly magazine, notably, “The Dark Side of Death,” in which he described his impending demise as “deanimation,” and explained why he had decided to win his battle with cancer by living the rest of his life well. “I try to embrace the inevitable with whatever grace I can muster, and find the joy in each day. I’ve always been good at that, but now I’m getting really good at it.”

Survived by his wife, Mimi Raleigh, his mother, Jean Davis, and his brother, Robert, Mr. Davis also leaves scores of friends and fans, who will miss his humor, his grace and his joy. Donations in his memory may be made to Animalkind Inc., P.O. Box 902, 721 Warren Street, Hudson 12534. A memorial service, to be held in the fall, will be announced at a later date. Condolences may be left at


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