News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.



IN MEMORIAM: Ljiljana Neckermann, 70; Artist Loved Otsego Lake


Ljiljana Neckermann, 70;

Artist Loved Otsego Lake

Ljiljana Neckermann

COOPERSTOWN – Ljiljana Neckermann, an artist and former resident of Newport, Cooperstown and Schuyler Lake, passed away at Pacifica Senior Living in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, after a long illness.

Ljiljana was born in 1949 in the former Yugoslavia, and moved to Germany in her 20s, where she had a successful career in business and became a citizen. In 1979, she was married to the widowed Johannes Neckermann, and two years later, the Neckermann family became residents of the greater Cooperstown area.

IN MEMORIAM: Mary Erbe, 97; Active in Oneonta Life


Mary C. Erbe, 97;

Active in Oneonta Life

Mary Erbe

ONEONTA– Mary C. Erbe, 97, passed away June 28, 2020 at A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta.

Born in Oneonta, August 26, 1922, the daughter of Sheldon H. and Gertrude (Strong) Close. She married Donald D. Erbe on June 10, 1944. He died September 5, 1992.

Mary graduated from Bugee School, Oneonta High School and Syracuse University. She was a member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority. A life member of the First Presbyterian Church, where she served as a Trustee and an Elder. Mary also served on the Board of Directors of the Oneonta Family YMCA; the Executive Committee of the Hartwick College Citizens Board, a director of Friends of Huntington Library Board. She was a member of the Oneonta Federated Garden Club, the Oneonta Country Club and for over 50 years she played in the Wednesday Bridge Club.

IN MEMORIAM: Celeste Brown Thomas, 61; Editor At New York Times


Celeste Brown Thomas, 61;

Editor At New York Times

Celeste Brown Thomas

ONEONTA – Celeste Brown Thomas, 61, retired New York Times staff editor who grew up in Oneonta, passed away June 20, 2020, in Rochester of complications from uterine serous cancer.

She had been treated for the disease, a rare and aggressive cancer, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Rochester since May 2017. She died surrounded by family, after hospice care at home for several weeks.

She was born Nov. 25, 1958, in Sayre, Pa., the eldest of two children of Foster Lloyd Brown, a SUNY Oneonta statistics professor, and Barbara Feather Brown, a music teacher. After attending Bugbee School and Oneonta High School, she graduated with a bachelor’s in English from SUNY New Paltz and later a master’s in English from New York University.

IN MEMORIAM: Aaron M. Willey, 34; Grew Up In Burlington Flats

Aaron M. Willey, 34;

Grew Up In Burlington Flats

Aaron Willey

ONEONTA – Aaron Michael Willey, 34, who spent his childhood in Burlington Flats, died unexpectedly on May 27, 2020, in Oneonta.

He was born on Sept. 12, 1985, to Deborah L. Perkins (Willey) and Christopher Posada in Middletown.
Aaron grew up in Burlington Flats and attended Edmeston Central School.

Aaron received a diploma of legal assistant/paralegal from the Blackstone Career Institute in 2006.

IN MEMORIAM: Sharon Ann Congelli, 74; Active With Quakers

Sharon Ann Congelli, 74;

Active With Local Quakers

Sharon Congelli

FLY CREEK – Sharon Ann Congelli, 74, who most recently lived with her daughter in Fly Creek, passed away Sunday, May 17, 2020, following a valiant seven-year battle with glioblastoma. She was 74.

Born Nov. 20, 1945, in North Hornell, Sharon was the daughter of Duane E. and Carol J. (Bricks) Knapp of Atlanta. After graduating from high school in Wayland she attended the Continental School of Beauty in Rochester.

While she was employed at several places throughout her life, she was best known as the manager of the Home Video store located in the Wayland Food Mart, for over 25 years. Prior to managing the video store, Sharon worked for the Wayland Central School as part of the high school cafeteria staff, a position she enjoyed and from which lifelong friendships were born as evidenced by monthly lunch gatherings with the “cafeteria ladies” held for decades after.

IN MEMORIAM: Joan Kammerer Toorey, 95; Summered On Lake

Joan Kammerer Toorey, 95;

Summered On Goodyear Lake

ONEONTA – Joan Kammerer Torrey, 95, who arrived in Oneonta by train & returned every summer, passed away at home in Clearwater, Fla., on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

She was born in the Bronx, the daughter of Andrew and Mary (McKinney) Kammerer.
She graduated from Haverstraw High School.

After high school, she came to Oneonta on a train, arriving at what is now The Depot Restaurant. While attending Oneonta State Teachers College, she met her future husband, Arthur Torrey. They married in 1946, after he returned from the Air Force. Together they raised a family of five boys, Arthur Jr., Brian, Craig, Damon and Eric (ABCDE).

IN MEMORIAM: Wayne Stanley Cook I, 82; Butcher Loved Cars

Wayne Stanley Cook I, 82;

Butcher Opened Car Lot

Wayne Stanley Cook

ONEONTA – Wayne Stanley Cook I, 82, owner of Wayne’s Cars and a former meat cutter at Bruno Scavo’s grocery, passed away Saturday, May 23, 2020 at the Chestnut Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Oneonta, where he was a resident for the past 5 years during his battle with Alzheimer’s.

Wayne was born Oct. 25, 1937 in Oneonta, the first of eleven children of the late LaVerne Alberti Cook and Ruth Margaret Cronkite. He grew up on the family farm at Star Route, Franklin and graduated from Delaware Literary Institute and Franklin Central School, class of 1956. Shortly after, Wayne joined the Army National Guard, Company C, 2nd Armored Rifle Battalion, 108th Infantry at Camp Drum.

IN MEMORIAM: Judith Guzik, 77; Richfield Teacher, Garden Club Member


Judith Guzik, 77, Richfield Springs;

Richfield Teacher, Garden Club Member

Judith Guzik

JORDANVILLE – Judith (Brown) Guzik, 77, a teacher at Richfield Springs Central School, died on Friday, May 8, 2020, at St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Utica.

She was born on Aug. 16, 1942, in Oneonta, the daughter of the late Edward Hugh and Ellen G. Barlow Brown.

She was a graduate of Laurens Central School, Class of 1960 and went on to earn a BS Degree in Elementary Education with Honors from SUNY Oneonta in 1965. Judith also received her MS Degree in Guidance (K-12) from SUNY Oneonta in 1973.

IN MEMORIAM: Ed Newsham, 85; SUNY Professor, Masonic Leader


Ed Newsham, 85, Oneonta;

SUNY Professor, Masonic Leader

ONEONTA – Edward S. Newsham, 85, who had a distinguished career with the Masonic Fraternity, passed away Wednesday, May 6, 2020, in A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital.

Ed was born September 13, 1934, in Erie, PA, the son of the late Frederick and Susan (Harriger) Newsham. He married June Mellor September 7, 1957 in Woods Hole, MA. Ed and June moved to Oneonta in 1965 when Ed accepted a position as Professor at SUNY Oneonta teaching Chemistry where he enriched and touched the lives of many students over the years until his retirement in 1997. Ed was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Oneonta where he served on various boards and committees.

IN MEMORIAM: Clarence G. Travis, 47; Man Of Many Talents

Clarence G. Travis, 47;

Man Of Many Talents

Clarence Travis

SCHUYLER LAKE – Clarence G. Travis, 47, a Chobani employee who enjoyed woodworking and other crafts, died Wednesday, March 25, at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Utica, following a motor vehicle accident. 

He was born on July 26, 1972 in Poughkeepsie, son of Bob Travis of Newburgh and the late Helen King Travis. Clarence was raised in Newburgh and graduated from Newburgh High School.

On Oct. 29, 2000, he was united in marriage to the former Shannon Donnelly in Richfield. He had worked as a fork lift operator for Chobani Yogurt in South Edmeston.

IN MEMORIAM: Robert F. Fahey, 86; Veteran Worked At Bill’s Auto Auction

Robert F. Fahey, 86, Richfield Springs;

Veteran Worked At Bill’s Auto Auction

Robert Fahey

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Robert “Bob” Francis Fahey, 86, who worked for 24 years at Bill’s Auto Auction, passed away peacefully on Thursday morning Feb. 27, 2020, at Bassett Medical Center, Cooperstown. He had the peace and comfort of his loving family at his side.

Bob was born on Jan. 29, 1934, in Cooperstown, the son of the late Francis Joseph and Mildred Smith Fahey.

A lifelong area resident, he was raised and graduated from VanHornesville High School with the Class of 1952.

Michael K. Covert, 59; Cooperstown Police Chief


Michael K. Covert, 59;

Cooperstown Police Chief

Michael Covert

HARTWICK – Michael K. Covert, 59, a long-standing community member, dedicated civil servant and honorably discharged veteran who served as an Otsego County Sheriff’s Deputy and Police Chief for the Village of Cooperstown, passed away following a valiant battle with several medical issues Sunday night, March 1, 2020, at his home.

Born May 4, 1960, in Pompton Plains, Pequannock Township, N.J., Mike was the son of Robert Ellis and Ruth Ann (Schilling) Covert. Raised in Oakland, N.J., Mike attended school there, and in the summers he and his family spent time in Hartwick.

Mike Covert, Former Cooperstown Police Chief, Dies

Village Chief Mike Covert

Dies After Long Illness

Former Cooperstown Police Chief Michael Covert, left, died overnight after a long illness, according to his wife, Deb Wengert Covert. Covert, who was diagnosed with renal failure last year, was the recipient of a GoFundMe campaign after it was revealed that he lost the county’s health insurance, despite working for the county for 25 years, and was ineligible for the village’s health insurance. During his tenure as police chief, he started the county’s Angel program, helping over 100 drug addicts seek recovery options. This photo was taken after he returned to the job following a hip surgery in 2017; with him, at right, is Officer Jim Kelman. An obituary and arrangements are forthcoming from Connell, Dow & Deysenroth.  ( photo)
In Memoriam: Martha A. Quinn, 105; Made Cooperstown Home For 26 Years

IN MEMORIAM: Martha A. Quinn, 105;

Made Cooperstown Home For 26 Years

COOPERSTOWN – Martha A. Quinn, 105, a former resident of Eastchester who had made her home in Cooperstown for the past 26 years, passed away early Sunday morning, January 19, 2020, in Hartwick at the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Peggy Quinn, who were at her bedside.

Born October 29, 1914, in Garfield, New Jersey, Martha was the last surviving sibling of 10 children of Harry and Anna née Cap Palubniak.

William R. “Bud” Pirone, 81; Revered OHS Principal


William R. ‘Bud’ Pirone,

81; Revered OHS Principal

Histories and memoirs of the Vietnam War, including Robert McNamara’s apologia, “In Retrospect” (1996), are among the volumes lining retired OHS principal Bud Pirone’s Otsego Street study in 2014. (Jim Kevlin/

ONEONTA – William R. “Bud” Pirone, 81, passed away on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, at Fox Nursing Home in Oneonta.

A former history teacher at Oneonta High School, he later became principal. He also helped found the Oneonta Alumni Association and coached tennis.

Arrangements are pending with the Lewis, Hurley & Pietrobono Funeral Home, 51 Dietz St., Oneonta.

Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103