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OBITUARIES: Rigsbee, Keeler, O’Laughlin


Leita D. Rigsbee (1933 – 2018)

ALBANY—Leita D. Rigsbee of East Greenbush passed away peacefully surrounded by family January 2, 2018 at Albany Medical Center after a long illness.

Mrs. Rigsbee was born in Plattsburgh, September 27, 1933, the second child of the late Leslie and Dorothy (Sayles) Dragoon.

She grew up in Sciota and graduated from Mooers Central High School as valedictorian in 1952. She married Richard Rigsbee August 30, 1952 at the West Chazy Wesleyan Church. Mrs. Rigsbee worked for the Olsen Temp Agency for several years before working and retiring from the New York State Teachers Retirement in 1991. She was known for her avid love of family, feisty and adventurous spirit, and crafting ability.

Mrs. Rigsbee loved the ocean, traveling and camping and was an active member of the Yankee Doodle chapter of the National Campers and Hikers Association for more than 50 years. She was an accomplished baker of wedding cakes, creator of handcrafted items, and loved incorporating music into all aspects of her life. She was also an attendee of the Albany Wesleyan Church.

Survivors include: her children, Mark (Julie) Rigsbee of Coopersville, Leslie (Raymond) Sambrook of Niverville, Joel Rigsbee and Cheri Pierce of Wynantskill; six grandchildren, Jason (Gloria) Rigsbee, Justin Sambrook and Katie (Chris) Gay, Alisa, Erin and Ryan Rigsbee; three great-grandchildren, Taylor, Braidyn and Madison Rigsbee; one brother, Robert Dragoon; two sisters-in-law, Elisabeth Holmes and Kathryn Rigsbee; several nieces and nephews. Besides her parents, Mrs. Rigsbee was predeceased by her husband, Richard Rigsbee and brother, Leslie “Skippy” Dragoon.

Relatives and friends are invited to calling hours at the Rockefeller Funeral Home, 165 Columbia Turnpike, Rensselaer, Friday, January 5 from 4 to 7 p.m. with a service following immediately at 7 p.m.

Interment will be in the Dragoon Family Cemetery in Sciota. The family has requested memorial contributions to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, www.michaeljfox.org.


Ralph A. Keeler (1926 – 2018)

RHINEBECK—Ralph A. Keeler, 91 years young, of Red Hook passed away Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at Ferncliff Nursing Home.

He was born June 13, 1926 in Claverack to the late Adam and Etta Mae (Rightmyer) Keeler.

He married Phyllis (Klyne) Keeler August 24, 1954 in Valatie. They were happily married for more than 63 years. His wife resides at their home in Red Hook.

Mr. Keeler was a navigator in the United States Navy for more than 20 years. Notably, while serving he was a part of the first ship to land on the Japanese Mainland in August 1945, after the surrender of World War II. In 1953 he helped open the first recruiting station in Kingston. From 1955 to 1958, Mr. Keeler participated in the first three “Deep Freeze” operations to Antarctica on board the U.S.S. Nespelen, including an Admiral Byrd expedition. In May 1959, he was aboard the U.S.S. Kiowa which picked up the first “space monkeys,” Able and Baker. Mr. Keeler travelled to almost every country during his 20-year career.

Following his career in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Keeler became a fruit farmer. He ran Philips Orchards in Claverack and Geiger Orchards in Red Hook.

One of his passions in life was playing baseball, which he was very good at. He played against greats like Bob Feller and was given an offer to play AAA for the NY Yankees. He was an avid NY Mets and NY Giants fan (even when it was hard to be). He loved college football too, “Go Alabama!” Mr. Keeler coached and umpired little league and was instrumental in planning the recreation park ballfields.

He loved his animals and was devoted to his family pets, Nell, Simon Theo, Abby, Chloe, Emma and his birds. He also enjoyed reading Westerns, gardening, playing games, bowling and fishing in the Adirondacks.

Mr. Keeler was a longtime member of the Red Hook United Methodist Church, where he served on many committees and maintained the building and grounds for years.

In addition to his loving wife, Mr. Keeler is survived by: his sister, Alice Wood of Gainesville, FL; his children, Raymond Keeler of Red Hook, Mark Keeler of Myrtle Beach, SC, Susan (Steven) Race of Red Hook, Michael (Denise) Keeler of San Antonio, TX, Ralph Painter of Springfield, OR, and Robert (Connie) Painter of McMinnville, OR; his grandchildren, Stephanie, Jason, Melanie, Samantha, Adam, Andrew, Patrick, Ryan, Robert, Michael, Crystal and Tiffany; along with numerous great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and extended family and friends.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his three brothers, Clinton, Donald and Duane.

The family thanks the staff at Ferncliff Nursing Home (wing 2B, OT and PT) and the nurses on the second floor CT stepdown at Vassar Brothers Medical Center for their wonderful care and support.

Friends may call at the Burnett & White Funeral Home, 7461 South Broadway, Red Hook, Friday, January 5, 2018 from 4 to 7 p.m.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, January 6, 2018, 11 a.m. at Red Hook United Methodist Church. Pastor Nikki Edleman will officiate. Burial will follow at Valley View Cemetery, Germantown.

Memorial donations may be made to the Red Hook United Methodist Church, 4 Church Street, Red Hook 12571.

For directions or to sign the online guest book visit www.Burnett-White.com.

John G. O’Laughlin (1917 – 2018)

VALATIE—Brother John Gervase O’Laughlin, CSC, 100, entered into eternal life January 2, 2018.

He was born to the late Michael and Margaret O’Laughlin in Niagara Falls, May 16, 1917, the fourth of five sons.

After graduating from Niagara Falls Senior High School in 1937, Brother O’Laughlin went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics and philosophy from Niagara University where he was also captain of the football team. During World War II, he served his country as a corporal in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific. Brother O’Laughlin lived the remainder of his life as a religious brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross. Over the course of 70 years as a brother, he was a teacher, maintenance and office worker and provided social services to the elderly and disabled. Forever dear to his heart were the people of Bangladesh where he lived and ministered for almost 20 years until the country’s war for independence in 1971. Recognizing his devotion to the charism of St. Vincent de Paul, Niagara University awarded him their Caritas medal in 1992.

Brother O’Laughlin is survived by a large extended family including many nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held at St. Joseph Center, Valatie. The wake service will take place at 7:15 p.m. Friday, January 5, 2018. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, January 6, 2018, 11 a.m. followed by interment at St. Joseph Cemetery.

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