Fred Stabbert, Jr.
One of the most respected community leaders in Sullivan County, Fred W. Stabbert Jr., 81, of Callicoon passed away peacefully at Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris on Monday morning, August 10, 2009, surrounded by his loving family following a short illness.
A family statement read, “Fred Jr. was the patriarch of the Stabbert family and his was a life very well lived. We feel very blessed that he was able to enjoy so much time with us and his large circle of friends. Spending time with those he loved meant everything to him. He was happiest when he was either behind the grill cooking his famous chicken barbecue for us or visiting with his many close friends. He lived life to the fullest and all who met him could sense his love of life. He also liked to meet new people and always made it a point to tell them he was from Callicoon. While our hearts are heavy, we know that he is now at peace, and that his strength will continue on in all of us.”
Fred W. Stabbert Jr. was born on May 9, 1928 to the late Fred W. and Nellie Stevens Stabbert Sr. above the offices of the Sullivan County Democrat in Callicoon.
To say that he grew up in the newspaper business would be an understatement. Fred and his three siblings, Anne, Ed and Bob, were often employed at the office, helping with printing orders and whatever other work they could accomplish.
A Callicoon boy, born and bred, he grew up with printer’s ink in his blood, in a family of readers and writers who live by the printed word.
Growing up on the heels of the Great Depression, Fred learned the value of hard work, simple pleasures and strong family ties, values he passed along to his children and grandchildren. He spent many days on the Stabbert family homestead in Obernburg enjoying the farm owned by his aunt and uncle, Herm and Cathy Stabbert.
He graduated from the Callicoon School but liked to say he learned many of his life lessons “in the school of hard knocks.”
He worked at various jobs around town and found great enjoyment in playing with his buddies and hunting, fishing and trapping. His father would often take him to The Delaware Club in West-brookville, which became one of the loves of his life. He was a 60-year member of the club and spent countless hours preparing meals for the members and welcoming all who came. He also enjoyed spending time in the woods and was an accomplished hunter who liked to travel on hunting trips for elk.
Following graduation from high school, Fred attended New York’s Merganthaler School where he was formally trained in the operation of a Linotype, the machine which cast full lines of “hot type” used in newspaper production.
On July 1, 1951, Fred married Shirley Kohler of Jeffersonville. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and was stationed at Arlington Hall in Arlington, Va.
Following his discharge in September of 1956 he returned home to Callicoon, where he temporarily joined the family business. He then worked for the New York State Department of Civil Defense as a Regional Director. Following the sudden death of his father in April 1963, he returned to Callicoon to take over as publisher of the Democrat, a post he held until January 1, 1994, when his son, Fred III, succeeded him. Fred liked to spend time in the office, and was working the day before he went into the hospital.
Active in political circles, Fred became chairman of the Sullivan County Democratic Committee in the late 1970s until the mid-1980s. He also was one of only 43 electors in New York State in 1976 casting his vote in the Electoral College for United States President Jimmy Carter. He later attended President Carter’s inauguration.
Fred was also Chairman of the Board of Directors of United National Bank, headquartered in Callicoon.
His community involvement stretched far beyond politics. He was a member and Past Master of the Delaware Lodge F. & A.M. in Callicoon, the Callicoon Volunteer Fire Department, the Callicoon Kiwanis, the Delaware Youth Center, the United Methodist Church in Callicoon, the Liberty Elks and many charitable organizations.
He also enjoyed golf, playing countless rounds at courses from New York to Florida with friends and family over the years. He also liked to travel and enjoyed taking his entire family on summer vacations.
He is survived by his life partner of 58 years, Shirley Kohler Stabbert of Callicoon. Also his daughter Kathy, and husband John Werner, of Hurley; daughter Laurie and husband Dick Sanford of Bloomville; daughter Billie and husband Peter Finch of Riverview, Fla.; daughter Mary and husband John Hope-Ross of Naugatuck, CT and son, Fred Stabbert III and wife Regina of Callicoon.
Also surviving are his grandchildren, Elizabeth and Michael Werner; Abby, Corey and Dickson Sanford; Christian, Amy and Brian Finch; David, William and Stephen Hope-Ross and Laura, Claire and Andrew Stabbert. Also, two great-grandchildren, Emily and Peyton Finch.
Also surviving are a sister, Anne Foland of Middletown and a brother, Robert Stabbert of Miami, Fla. Also, three nephews, Tim Robisch, David Robisch and Clifford Stabbert; and two nieces, Anne Marie Willi and Elaine Ernst.
He was predeceased by a brother, Edwin, of New York City.
Visiting hours for family and friends will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 12 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Stewart-Murphy Funeral Home in Callicoon. The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13 at the United Methodist Church, Route 97, Callicoon. Burial will be in the Callicoon Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Callicoon Fire Department, P.O. Box 806, Callicoon, New York 12723; the United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 235, Callicoon, New York 12723 or the charity of one’s choice.