FLY CREEK – William J. Ubner, who played on legendary Cooperstown football coach Lester G. “Red” Bursey’s 1947 undefeated team, passed away in his sleep Monday evening, Nov. 23, 2020, at his home in Fly Creek Valley. He was 90.
A true outdoorsman, animal lover and almost 30-year employee of the Otsego County Highway Department, he was born on Dec. 16, 1929, at home on the family farm in Fly Creek Valley. Bill was a son of Stanley and Jenny E. (Bice) Ubner. After attending school in Fly Creek, he attended Cooperstown High School and graduated with the Class of 1949.
During his high school years he excelled as a football player. As a member of “Red” Bursey’s 1947 unbeaten team, Bill and his fellow teammates were inducted in 2010 into the Cooperstown Central School Athletics Hall of Fame. After high school Bill continued playing football with the Little Falls Giants, a local semi pro team.
Bill’s first job was testing milk for the Dairy Herd Improvement Cooperative, and received training through the DHIC milk testing program at Cornell University. He was employed by DHIC for 17 years until he decided to leave and join the county Highway Department. During his 29 years with the highway department he worked in various capacities, most often operating heavy equipment.
Throughout his life, Bill was always an animal lover. Perhaps his most favorite animals were dogs, and for many years he trained and conditioned many dogs, running them in field trial competitions. It was at one of these field trials that he met his future wife, Karen Schnick, who shared his love for dogs. They eventually combined their kennels and their lives, uniting in marriage on July 22, 1972, in Karen’s hometown of Meriden, Conn. They continued to compete, both with and against each other, at field trials throughout New England and New York. They truly had a successful kennel operation.
Most of all, Bill loved the outdoors. He could never get enough of working outside, whether it was mowing fields, painting his barns, or cutting more firewood than he could ever use. His love of the earth and all creatures great and small once led John Stucin, a fellow Fly Creeker, to describe him as “a good steward of the land.”
Bill is survived by his wife of 48 years, Karen S. Ubner of Fly Creek Valley; a sister, Stella Lincourt of New Hampshire; a sister-in-law, Diane Campbell of Texas; and several nieces and nephews including Mark Ubner (Melissa) of Schuyler Lake, Richard Lincourt (Elaine) of New Hampshire, Linda Eskow of Hamden, Elizabeth Davis (Brian) of Laurens, Christopher Patacsil (Sandra) of San Antonio, Texas, and Travis Campbell (Kaylee) of Austin, Texas.
He was predeceased by his parents, Stanley and Jenny Ubner; his father and mother-in-law, Arthur and Blanche Schnick; a brother-in-law, Harold Lincourt; and his niece’s husband, Gerald Eskow.
Friends may call and pay their respects from 2-4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, at the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions and regulations, all attending must wear a face mask or covering and observe proper physical distancing. Due to current regulations that only permit a certain number of people in the funeral home at one time, please be prepared to wait outside before entering.
As a way to remember Bill and honor his life, please consider a memorial gift in his name to the Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Company, PO Box 218, Fly Creek, NY 13337, or the Susquehanna SPCA, 4841 State Highway 28, Cooperstown, NY 13326.
Arrangements are under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown.