New York State Funeral Directors Association

We pause and reflect on the family and friends of NYSFDA who have passed away. May our cherished memories fill some of the void left by their departure, and may they rest in eternal peace as they live on in our hearts.


In Remembrance 2019

William "Bill" C. Leahy, 81, passed away on October 23, 2019. Bill was the President of Wm. Leahy Funeral Home Inc. in Troy, NY for over 50 years. He was a long-time member of NYSFDA.

Jacquelyn S. Taylor, PhD, 66, passed away on October 20, 2019. Jacquelyn was a funeral director, the special projects coordinator for The Dodge Company and worked tirelessly on the REAL project.

John "Jack" G. Butler, Jr., 77, passed away on October 19, 2019. John was a New York State Licensed Funeral Director and Legacy member of NYSFDA.

Kathie D. Halvey, 67, passed away on October 16, 2019. Kathie was the wife of Peter T. Halvey, retired owner of Halvey Funeral Home, and mother of William J. Halvey (Straub, Catalano & Halvey Funeral Home) and Patrick J. Halvey (Riverview Funeral Home by Halvey).

Arthur J. Sonnick III, 64, passed away on October 14, 2019. Arthur was a funeral director at Hempstead Funeral Home for over 30 years.

George James Traub, 77, passed away on October 10, 2019. James was the President of Traub Funeral Homes and a longtime member of NYSFDA's Government Affairs Committee.

Mark C. Kowalczyk, 54, passed away on October 2, 2019. Mark served as President of NYSFDA from 2000-2002 and was a member of the NYSFDA Board of Directors from 1995-2004. He also chaired the Association's Government Affairs Committee at one time. Mark was the Vice President and co-owner, and operated Kowalczyk Funeral Homes, in Utica and in New York Mills.

Dr. Elissa Ann DeBenedictis, 49, passed away on September 18, 2019. Elissa worked at American Academy McAllister Institute for 22 years as a Professor, Director of Academic Support and Coordinator of Clinical Embalming.

Evelyn J. Seymour, 92, peacefully passed away July 17 with her loving family by her side. Evelyn was a longtime funeral director and former owner of the Seymour Funeral Home.

Lorraine M. Mahoney, 80, of South Farmingdale, NY, entered into eternal life on July 16, 2019. Lorraine was the mother of Stephen J. Mahoney, a funeral director at Arthur F. White Funeral Home, Inc., in Long Island.

Dorothy "Dotty" Jean Cervo Parente, 89, of Loudonville, entered into eternal life on July 15, 2019. Dotty is the mother of PrePlan Trustee, Funeral Directors Support Services Board of Director and Capital District Funeral Directors Association President, David A. Parente of McVeigh Funeral Home, Inc., in Albany.

Craig A. Reukauf, 72, of New Smyrna Beach, FL, passed away on July 5, 2019. Craig served as a funeral director/owner at Brewer Funeral Home in Lake Luzerne for nearly 30 years.   

John H. Darrow, 87, passed away on June 24, 2019. In 1958, John became owner of Joseph J. Darrow Sr. Funeral Home, Inc., and Darrow Memorials, in Poughkeepsie, and continued to serve throughout his lifetime without retire.

Robert W. Barber, 99, of Johnson City, passed away on June 20, 2019. Bob was the second generation owner of the Barber Memorial Home, Inc., in Johnson City, where he took great pride in helping many families for over 40 years.

Millie R. Bruno, 100, mother of Joe Bruno from Matthew Aurora Funeral Solutions, passed away on June 21, 2019.

A. Andrew Gigliotti, age 79, of Loudonville, entered into eternal life on June 20, 2019. Andy was a well-known and respected funeral director in the City of Albany for over forty years, owning Lasak & Gigliotti, Inc.

Jeanne Evans Battle, 77, passed away on June 10, 2019. Jeanne was the beloved sister of Mrs. Ayris B. Granby and sister-in-law of Samuel Granby Jr. of Granby’s Funeral Service, Inc., in the Bronx.

Mary E. Dalton, 90, of Islip (formerly of Oyster Bay), passed away on June 13, 2019. Mary was the mother of Beth Dalton-Costello, LFD, and widow of Thomas F. Dalton of Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home in Hicksville.

Richard D. "Dick" Williams, 83, of Cicero, passed away on April 28, 2019. Dick was a graduate of Simmons Institute of Funeral Service. As proprietor of Williams Funeral Home, he served his community as a funeral director for over 55 years.

William “Bill” Guy Olmsted, 77, passed away in May 2019. Bill was a licensed funeral director in the state of Wisconsin and worked as a sales representative for Embalmer’s Supply Company, Bass-Mollett Industries, Schuylkill Haven Casket Company and Columbia Casket Company. He was a friend of funeral service and was well-known by many. 

Robert John Arndt, 49, passed away April 23, 2019. Robert served his community as a Funeral Director for 25 years at the Arndt Funeral Home of Rochester.

Joan P. D'Arienzo, 83, passed away April 2, 2019. Joan was the mother of funeral directors John D'Arienzo of D'Arienzo Funeral Home and Peter D'Arienzo.

John A. "Jack" Bernius, 87, died March 29, 2019. John was the father of NYSFDA member John Bernius Jr. of Chapey Funeral Home and the father-in-law of Stephenie Nowak-Bernius of Fairchild Funeral Home.

Kevin A. Magnanti, 41, died March 26, 2019 following a battle with cancer. Magnanti, the nephew of NYSFDA President Jeffrey A. Jennings, CFSP, leaves behind a wife and two young children.

Donald W. Knight, 84, passed away March 25, 2019. Don is the father of former NYSFDA President Patricia Knight Scholl. Licensed in 1954, Don served families as a funeral director for 63 years both in New York City and, later, from the Keegan-Osbelt-Knight Funeral Home in Syracuse. 

Joseph M. Riley III, 66, passed away March 21, 2019. Joseph served as a funeral director at Riley Mortuary Inc., of Amsterdam, NY; and held the position of Montgomery County Coroner for 35 years. 

Thomas James (T.J.) Lester, 69, passed away February 18, 2019. TJ was a well-known vendor/supplier of products for the funeral profession. He leaves behind his wife, a brother and sister.    

Linda A. Angiolillo, 71, passed away February 5, 2019. Linda was the wife of NYSFDA member Michael G. Angiolillo, a funeral director at the Robert M. King Funeral Home in Granville. Linda is survived by her husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.   

Vincent Paul Fritsch, 52, died February 22, 2019. Vincent was the brother of Joseph Fritsch of Ernest H. Parsons Funeral Home in Binghamton, NY. A U.S. Army Veteran, Vincent was a funeral director at Hollomon-Brown Funeral Homes in Chesapeake, VA.

Martha M. Knowles, 100, died January 31, 2019. Martha was owner and manager of Austin F. Knowles, Inc. Funeral Home in Port Washington, NY. She is survived by children, grandchildren, and a great grandchild.

Patricia J. Kaiser, 86, died December 22, 2018. Patricia is the mother-in-law of NYSFDA Continuing Past President Walter J. Kent. Patricia was a member of the St. Luke's Lutheran Church and a dedicated election worker. She is survived by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Grace M. Kent, 92, died Friday, February 1, 2019. Grace is the mother of NYSFDA Continuing Past President Walter J. Kent and grandmother of NYSFDA member Tyler Kent of the Walter J. Kent Funeral Home in Elmira, NY.

Maureen B. Maurer, 82, died February 3, 2019. A licensed NYS Funeral Director, Maureen served her community as Vice President and Secretary of the Maurer Funeral Homes located in Liverpool and Baldwinsville. She will be remembered as a kind, gentle, caring and devoted wife, mother and grandmother.

Stephen H. Ellis, 76, a longtime employee and former manager of Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home, passed away on February 2, 2019. The U.S. Navy Veteran, member of Tadmor Lodge #923 F&AM, American Legion Post 421 Hicksville, and Levittown Kiwanis Club is survived by a wife and children.  

James Francis “Digger” Gilpatric, 89, one of Kingston’s longest-serving morticians, passed away on January 12, 2019. In 1950, he joined his grandfather’s funeral firm, the James M. Murphy Funeral Home. Following the death of his grandfather, Jimmy took over as owner and funeral director of the firm in 1954. In 1972, Jimmy marked the 100th anniversary of his funeral home with a change of name and plans for expansion, revealing that the four-generation family firm would be renamed the Gilpatric-Murphy Funeral Home. In 2009, the funeral home business was sold and renamed the Gilpatric-VanVliet Funeral Home, and eventually moved to Ulster Park in the Town of Esopus in 2012.