LAURENS – Mea Grace Stoecklin, 8, passed away at home on Sept. 24, 2019, peacefully in her sleep.
She was born Dec. 29, 2010, in Cooperstown. Mea was born with Sanfilippo, a genetic syndrome.
Her life was full with an abundance of love. Mea’s large, bright smile could light up the room. She was always happy and laughing.
Mea is survived by her parents, Brooke S. Stoecklin and Nathan M. Hitchcock; a half-sister, Allie Lauria; grandparents, Jim and Jill Stoecklin, Beth Kilts, Donald Hitchcock and Kelly Clark; great-grandparents, John L. Smith and Rocco and Louise Lauria; aunts and uncles, Morgan Stoecklin, Ryan Hitchcock, Jenna Muir, Erik Lauria, Cody Burghart; her caregiver, Traci O’Dennell; many cousins, extended family members and friends.
LAURENS – Musician Henry Kaiser had never met Cheryl Leonard before, but they both knew they had more than music in common.
Both had been part of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artist & Writers program, which invites artists to the seventh continent to work with scientists, using what they see, hear and experience
as material in their artwork. “She said she used animal bones and rocks to make music,” said Kaiser.
“I’m recording a composition with Weddell Seal sounds, and I found a skull for her to play on my piece.”
“I love the wilderness and using natural objects as instruments,” said Leonard. “And Antarctica is some of the last wilderness we really have.”
Karen Shafer, owner of Aunt Karen’s Farm in the Laurens hills, knew the Artist and Writer Program from her time in Antarctica and worked with composer Glenn McClure to invite other artists to the retreat, marking the first gathering of its kind in the area.
The retreat, over this past weekend, drew a dozen artists from across the United States and as far away as Germany. “How many people have been to Antarctica?” said Shafer. “We’ve only been going there for a little over 100 years. It’s a small group, but they’ve all shared this adventure.”
And Shafer, who retired as a funding compliance officer at Lincoln Center in 2011, is no stranger to Antarctica. “I knew someone who had worked there, and I thought to myself, ‘One day, I am going to do that.’”
When she retired in 2011, she drove a truck across the ice shelf for two years. “They called me ‘Shuttle Shafer,’” she said. “I drove this big truck, and when it was time to get in, they’d all come out and watch me climb up into it!”
In 1988, she bought a farmhouse here, and over time, bought the houses around it. She eventually turned the campus – it includes four houses – into an artist’s retreat.
She knew Elaine from her time in Antarctica, and they worked with composer Glenn McClure to invite the artists to the retreat, marking the first gathering of its kind.
“The artists were curious about who the other alumni were,” said Shafer. “Since I had been there, I thought my farm would be an appropriate place to host the first gathering.”
The gathering included composers, photographers, sculptors, textile artists and writers. “To get into the program, an artist has to propose an agenda,” said “Ghetto Cowboy” author Greg Neri. “I had a broad agenda, making science accessible to inner city kids, so I was allowed to go around with a couple different teams. The mission is to do the research you need to do your art, without getting killed.”
He said that he adapted quickly to the frigid conditions. “The only time I was cold was when I was out on the snowmobile and I got windburn on my face,” he said. “It was 40, 50 below. Other than that, you can adapt quickly.”
Sculptor Helen Glazer, who photographed icebergs, glaciers and ice caves, 3D prints her imagery and recently finished an exhibit at the Baltimore-Washington International terminal, will give a talk about her work at Colgate University in October. “I was interested in ice, how wind and water shaped the landscape,” she said. “And Antarctica was the best place to see it!”
Shaffer is hoping to make the gathering an annual event. “I didn’t want anyone to produce any new work,” said Shafer. “This was about sharing what they did in Antarctica and to begin to think about how we can expand the conversation.”
First, it should be said that there’s a troubling lack of interest this year in running for the Otsego County Board of Representatives, whose reach, from road building to social services, touches all 60,094 of us.
In the 14 districts, there are only three contests coming out of the June 25 primary:
In District 2, the one-term Democrat, former Morris Town Board member Michele Farwell, is being challenged by Marcia Hoag, a former Pittsfield Town Board member who is running on the Voice of the People line, but says she is allied with Republicans.
In District 3, where former board chair Kathy Clark, R-Otego/Laurens, is retiring. Republican Rick Brockway, a retired ferrier and outdoor columnist, and Democrat Caitlin Ogden, a Baseball Hall of Fame grantsman, are both newcomers running for the vacant seat.
In District 14, where Democrat Jill Basile and Wilson Wells, a Libertarian, are seeking to succeed Democrat Liz Shannon, who is retiring.
Contrast that with 2017, when 12 of the 14 seats were contested, and there were some humdingers.
ONEONTA – A celebration of life for William K. “Billy” Hymers, 68, who passed away on Nov. 24, 2018, at his winter home in Florida, will be Saturday, April 27, at Main Street Baptist Church. Calling hours will begin at 3 p.m., followed by a funeral service at 4 p.m.
LAURENS – Caitlin Ogden, the Grant and Development Specialist at the Baseball Hall of Fame, has announced her candidacy for District Three on the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
Ogden holds a Masters in Arts in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Ogden moved to upstate New York in 2006 with her horse in pursuit of a rural small town life. She has since spent her career working in the nonprofit sector.
WEST LAURENS – Elizabeth “Betty” A. Schlee of Laurens, 76, who rose to senior vice president during 30 years at Wilber National Bank, passed away Feb. 10, 2019, following a brief illness.
She was born in Oneonta, on Jan. 21, 1943, the daughter of the late Robert and Wilma Schlee. Betty graduated from Laurens Central School. She wpent more than three decades at Wilber before her retirement.
LAURENS – William L. “Lennie” Bourgeois, 82, raised in Laurens before embarking on a 20-plus year career as a Navy flight engineer, died at Fort Walton Beach, Fla., on Jan. 12, 2019. Since 1981, he had lived in Valparaiso, Fla.
He was born in Goodyear, Conn., on May 26, 1936, to Oliver J. and Julienne (Girard) Bourgeois. Lennie spent his youth in Upstate New York and graduated from Laurens Central School in 1955.
Just days after graduation, he joined the Navy and spent the next 20+ years serving his country. He often said his favorite tour of duty was with VX6/VXE6 in Antarctica, where he spent six seasons flying the C-130 aircraft as flight engineer, including “his” C-130, #319.