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Lionel's Story

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WALTON - Lionel Basil VanKleeck, always known as "Red," age 92 years, 5 months and 24 days, passed into eternity on Aug. 10, 2017, at home. Bereaved, his last years were lonely, yet spent in patient waiting for the Master's call. He is now reunited with the love of his life, his wife Marie of 62 years, who passed away before him on Feb. 27, 2009.
Our beloved parents are together again. Together they had a son, Robert Lionel and two daughters, Christine Marie and Karen Jean.
Lionel was born on the family farm, Brookside, in Dry Brook, Arkville, Feb. 17, 1925, the son of Basil Beal and Edith George VanKleeck.
On July 21, 1946, he married the former Marie Berg at Lake Delaware, Delhi.
As a young boy he packed Brussels sprouts and cauliflower for his neighbor Nate Haynes.
Red was a lifelong area resident. He attended Margaretville Central School and with the encouragement of his family earned his GED in 1973.
He proudly served his country from 1943 to 1945 in the United States Navy during World War II. He was aboard the USS Franklin, CV13 ("The Ship That Wouldn't Die") as a gunner mate in the Pacific, receiving the Purple Heart and the Victory Medal. Following discharge from the Navy, he became a reservist in the Navy Reserve, U.S. Air Force Reserve and then the Army National Guard from which he retired as Staff Sergeant. He loved this country and was honored to have served it.
Red was employed first at Crawford Brothers, following his discharge from the service. Red was a man of few words who let his hard work, high morals and strong values speak for themselves. He was an accomplished stone mason in his early years constructing many stone steps and fireplaces in the Walton and surrounding area. He also was a part-time patrolman for the Village of Walton. Red retired from New York State Water Supply as supervisor after 30 years of service.
He was a longtime member for 70 years of the First United Methodist Church of Walton, serving as trustee, financial secretary and head usher. He was a long time member of the Walton Fire Department Co.No. 3, serving as secretary and later as an honorary member. Red was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 270, serving as commander and the Truman C. Toby Post 32 American Legion serving as commander and secretary. He was also a member of the Delhi Bird Club.
During his life, he was an avid hunter. Red was Cub Master for Boy Scout Troop 45. He loved to square dance with Marie and belonged to the Walton Swing Along and Putnam Prancers in Brewster. Red loved skiing with his family and playing cards and games with the grandchildren.
After his retirement, he became involved in caning chairs for many people in the area.
Lionel will be remembered with love by his three children and their families, his daughter and constant companion since 2009, Christine VanKleeck of Walton, Robert (Karen) VanKleeck of Chenango Bridge and Karen (Erick) Van Wert of Bethesda, Maryland; his grandchildren, Monica (Vincente) Martinez of Bethesda, Maryland, Michael VanKleeck (Staci Myers) of Binghamton, and Jennifer VanKleeck of Chenango Bridge; as well as his twin great-grandsons, Maximilian Basil and Erik Bartholomew Martinez, great-grandsons, Liam and Chase VanKleeck and great-granddaughter, Juliana Wayman. Also surviving is a special niece, Carolyn Hayes and special nephew, Mark Liddle and many other special nieces and nephews; and sister-in-law, Adele Berg, Oneonta.
He was predeceased by his loving wife, Marie, of 62 years; two sisters, Vida Robbins and Jean VanKleeck; brother, George VanKleeck; grandson, Justin VanWert; sisters in-law and husband Aasta and Floyd Liddle, Borghild and Joe Huska; brothers in-law and wife, Sverre Berg and Helen, Paul Berg, Edwin Berg, Kaare Berg and John and Anne Berg.
"The Great Commander called him home to sail the crystal sea, Where he will steer with steady hand throughout eternity, No longer will the high sea roll, The skies will be clear and every day will be a day of happiness and cheer, No storm shall cross his valiant prow and calm will be the sea, In that bright place where all is well and kindly is the breeze, He is at peace with his shipmates who have gone before"
Friends and relatives are invited to call on from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday, Aug. 14, at the First Methodist Church, 101 North St., Walton. Funeral services will follow at 1 p.m., with the Pastor Kent Terchunian. Lionel will be laid to rest in the Walton Cemetery near the Fountain of Memories which he helped construct with his friend Bill Cranston with full military honors. Arrangements are under the direction of the Courtney Funeral Home, Walton.
Memorial contributions in Lionel's memory may be made to the First United Methodist Church, Stained Glass Window Fund, 101 North St., Walton, NY 13856, Walton Cemetery Fountain Plaque Fund, 55 Fancher Ave, P.O. Box 122 or the Walton Fire Department, 59 West St.
Condolences to the family may be made online by visiting www.courtneyfh.com
Published on August 11, 2017
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