Feb 21, 2024 at 10:30 am by Observer-Review

Obituaries/Memorial/Death Notices week of Feb. 21:

Carla Jean Knapp DeForest, Feb. 11, 2024.
Born June 8, 1952 to James Edgar Knapp and Norma Jean (Torrence) Knapp in Penn Yan, she grew up with her three sisters at the family vineyard on Keuka Lake in the town of Wayne.
Carla married James DeForest June 5, 1976. The wedding was held at the Garrett Memorial Chapel in Jerusalem, directly across the lake from the family vineyard.
They had two children, Siri Torrence DeForest and Tristan James DeForest.
Carla graduated from Russell Sage College in 1989 with a BSN degree and worked as an ICU nurse at Columbia Memorial Hospital for over 25 years, retiring in 2018. Her lifelong passion for her animal companions ranged from chickens, ducks, cats, dogs, goats and horses and was an expression of her loving and nurturing nature. She had an enduring sense of humor and cherished the company of her friends and family, frequently hosting gatherings. But dearest of all to her were her five grandchildren: Isabelle DeForest, Ivy Reynolds (Siri) and Madison Lyles, Atticus DeForest and Merritt DeForest (Tristan).
Through her faith in Jesus Christ her spirit and soul now abide with God for eternity.
There are two dates for Memorial Services: Saturday, Feb. 24, 11 a.m. at the South Westerlo Congregational Church, 282 County Route 405, South Westerlo, New York, and  Saturday, March 2 at 11 a.m. at the Barrington Community Church, 4560 Old Bath Road, Dundee.
The family requests that in lieu of flower arrangements donations be submitted at the memorial services or mailed to Helderberg Christian School, PO Box 225, East Berne, NY 12059.
Online condolences can be sent by visiting

Carol A. Fiorilla of Dundee died Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
Carol was born Sept. 21, 1948, in Weehawken, New Jersey, the daughter of Charles J. Schwenk and Louise M. DeLuca.
Carol went to Kinnelon High School in Kinnelon, New Jersey. On Nov. 12, 1966, she married Thomas Anthony Fiorilla. She started her working career as a hairdresser and part-time nurse’s aide. In 1977 she and her husband moved their family to Dundee to run a boat livery and bait shop on Seneca Lake. She also worked for several years at the former Alpha House Rehab Center in Trumansburg. However, Carol went on to a better and more enjoyable position of becoming a foster parent and respite service for over 30 years. She worked mainly with Yates County Children Services but took children into her home from as far as Ontario and Wayne Counties. She worked hard to improve the lives of many children who came to live with her and her family. She made many friends with families in the community and the Dundee School District. Carol was also an avid fan of the singer Barry Manilow.
Carol is survived and will be forever missed by her devoted and loving husband of 58 years, Thomas A. Fiorilla Sr.; her sons Greg C. (Carrie) Fiorilla, Thomas A. (Christine) Fiorilla Jr. and daughters Kristine M. Fiorilla and Wynter L. Knight, along with eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. She is also survived by siblings Denton H. (Annette) Schwartz Jr. and Robert A. (Hui) Clark Jr.; and several nieces and nephews.
Carol was predeceased by her brother Ronald C. Schwenk in 2008.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Carol to the Dundee Central School 55 Water St. Dundee, NY 14837.
Calling hours are from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 1 at the Baird Funeral Home, 36 Water St., Dundee. A private ceremony will be held at 6 p.m.
Online condolences can be sent by visiting

Karen Kress of Watkins Glen passed away peacefully at home Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, at the age of 69, surrounded by her children, granddaughter Colette and loving husband Gene—just the way she wanted it. Simply going home to heaven, undoubtedly passing back into her mother’s embrace.
Born Dec. 20, 1954 to Charlotte and James Baker, one of four children, she bought the house next to where she grew up on Clarence Street and raised her children to be as connected to family and place as she was. She was a caretaker to her parents and aunt as they aged. She took care of her own, a mother, sister, aunt and grandmother always putting family first.
Early in life, she began working at Schuyler Hospital, becoming head of housekeeping, before leaving to raise her family. Later, she embraced her passions and built a successful business, “Gifts from the Heart” over 33 years at the Windmill Farm and Craft Market, where she served as a board member, vendor and volunteer. Her shop was a beloved stop on the North Street of Shops, an anchor for repeat visitors who would come year after year to see the one-of-a-kind creations made by their friend Karen.
Karen’s greatest joy was being a grandmother, first to Cora, and then to Colette—miracles which initially seemed hard to get, she reveled in all the time she had with them—making cookies, doing crafts, making play-doh, singing, playing on the playground or simply just being content, she loved having them home with her.
Her love and care are enduring for those who she loved, providing faith and comfort even in her absence.
She was predeceased by her mother and father Charlotte and James, uncle Pete Spearman and cousin Michael Robertson. She is survived by her husband, Gene; children, Melanie, Shelly and Adam (Amy) Kress; her grandchildren, Cora Murphy and Colette Kress; her siblings, James (Pam) Baker, Don (Diane) Baker and Linda (David) Gokey; as well as her nieces, Stephenie Monroe and Carly Zeno (Anthony).
In keeping with her wishes Karen was laid to rest next to her parents in a private graveside service in Montour Cemetery.
For all those wishing to remember her, the family asks that you send a contribution for a memorial stone to be placed in front of her shop at the Windmill. Contributions can be sent via paypal to or mailed/dropped off to Gene.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Vedder-Scott & Zinger Funeral Home, Montour Falls. To leave the family a message of condolence, please visit

Dawn Renee Pennypacker, 55, of Montour Falls passed away Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester after a courageous battle with cancer.
She was born May 24, 1968 in Olean, New York, the daughter of Michael Duffy and Cindy Dick. Dawn graduated from Alfred State College. She was an IT specialist with Siemens Energy for 17 years. On June 13, 2009, she married Kenneth S. Pennypacker in Montour Falls.
Dawn loved cooking, baking and spending time with her family. She enjoyed scary movies, puzzles and reading murder mystery books. In her free time, she enjoyed lounging on the back deck, fishing, visiting camp and gambling at the casinos.
Dawn is survived by her husband of 15 years, Kenneth S. Pennypacker; three sons, Jerry Jordan of Horseheads, Jesse Jordan of Watkins Glen and Scott Pennypacker of Montour Falls; her mother, Cindy Dick of Wellsville, New York; sister, Tracy Martorana of Leroy, New York; brother, Dean Duffy of Ontario, New York; aunts and uncles, Jack Osgood, Nancy Barlow and Steve Dick; nieces and nephews, Jeffrey Duffy, Paige Webb, Jesse Pennypacker, George Pennypacker, Joseph Pennypacker and Emma Pennypacker; and cousins, Audie Osgood, Heidi Johnson, Cory Osgood, Kirk Osgood, Kellee Nowak, Josh Leonard, Chad Leonard, Tracy Barlow, David Barlow, David Dick, Jason Dick and Jennifer Charrette. She was predeceased by her father, Michael Duffy; stepfather, James Dick Jr.; uncle, James Osgood and aunt, Judy Leonard.
Relatives and friends are invited to call Saturday, Feb. 24 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Vedder-Scott & Zinger Funeral Home, 122 N. Genesee St., Montour Falls. Dawn’s memorial service will begin at noon followed by burial in Montour Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Vedder-Scott & Zinger Funeral Home, Montour Falls. To leave the family a message of condolence, please visit

Death notices
Carla J. DeForest, 71, Feb. 11, 2024. Arrangements by Baird Funeral Home, Dundee.
CAROL A. FIORILLA, 75, of Dundee, Feb. 15, 2024 at Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester. Arrangements by Baird Funeral Home, Dundee.
KAREN A. KRESS, 69, of Watkins Glen, Feb. 9, 2024 at home. Arrangements by Vedder-Scott & Zinger Funeral Home, Montour Falls.
DAWN R. PENNYPACKER, 55, of Montour Falls, Feb. 15, 2024 at Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester. Arrangements by Vedder-Scott & Zinger Funeral Home, Montour Falls.
NORMA S. WIGDEN, 89, of Penn Yan, Feb. 10, 2024. Arrangements by Weldon Funeral Home, Penn Yan.


Obituaries/Memorial/Death Notices week of Feb. 14:

Michael “Mike” E. Learn—After 73 years of making his mark in the world, Mike passed peacefully from this life into eternal rest Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, in New Port Richey, Florida. Mike was born in Corning Nov. 20, 1950, the son of the late Elwyn and Verna (Young) Learn.
Mike was a lifelong resident of Schuyler County and enjoyed his days on the shores of Seneca Lake. In recent years he found a home and community he loved in Hudson, Florida.
Mike was an alum of Watkins Glen, Class of 1969. He was a multi-sport athlete and was inducted into the WG Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. Mike attended Ashland University in Ohio and studied business. He was a proud member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. Upon graduation, he returned home and worked for Learn Motors eventually taking ownership of the business which he ran until his retirement in 2014.
Mike embodied these words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Mike made a difference! He was an integral part of the Watkins Glen community. He worked hard and found joy in the simple pleasures of life, whether it was outdoor activities, cheering at sporting events, or cocktails with friends he cherished every moment. Mike was devoted to his family, friends and community. He gave freely of his time and was an active member of several service organizations: Rotary International, Elks Club, Moose Club, and Mechanics Club, he also volunteered his time to support the United Way, Seneca Santa and many other community efforts. He never said no to someone in need.
Mike’s absence will be felt deeply by so many who loved and respected him. He is survived by his children: son, Jeffrey (Christin Bresett) Learn and daughter, Alicia (Philip McIlroy) Learn; his partner and best friend, Esther Heichel; his bonus children Jenna (John) Niedermaier, Daniel (Elissa) Heichel, David Heichel and Jeffrey (Ryan) Heichel. Mike’s love for and pride in his family was immense and his legacy lives on in his 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren who have all been blessed to experience the love he so freely shared. He also leaves behind his fur baby, Marley, and countless other family and friends.
Despite spending over 15 years battling a rare medical condition he showed unwavering courage and tenacity. You never heard him complain, his smile and laughter still prevailed even on his toughest days, right up to the end.
Mike’s family wishes to extend their sincere thanks to Gloria Epp and Mary Dore for their constant care and compassion in assisting Esther to provide him with the best care at home.
A celebration of Mike’s life will be held this spring. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Vedder-Scott & Zinger Funeral Home, Montour Falls. Details are to be announced at a later date.
We respectfully ask that in lieu of flowers, you honor Mike by considering donating your time, talents and resources to any local charity.

Death notices
DONALD B. FRIENDS, 74, of Willseyville, Feb. 5, 2024. Arrangements by Royce-Chedzoy Funeral Home, Watkins Glen.
ANNE M. GELDER, 82, of Hammondsport, Feb. 3, 2024 at Penn Yan Manor Nursing Home. Arrangements by Bishop & DeSanto Funeral Home, Hammondsport.
MICHAEL E. “MIKE” LEARN, 73, Feb. 2, 2024 in New Port Richey, Florida. Arrangements by Vedder-Scott & Zinger Funeral Home, Montour Falls.
RICHARD “JOHN” LEBECK, 72, of Dundee, Feb. 8, 2024 at home. Arrangements by Baird Funeral Home, Dundee.
KATHERINE A. LEONARD, 77, of Hammondsport, Feb. 5, 2024 at Strong Memorial Hospital. Arrangements by Bishop & DeSanto Funeral Home, Hammondsport.


Obituaries/Memorial/Death Notices week of Feb. 7:

Jacqueline M. (Andersen) Argona—On Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, at age 88, Jackie passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loving family. She will be reunited with her parents Henry and Henrietta Andersen, and her devoted husband of 62 years, Dominick R. Argona.
Jackie grew up in Liverpool, New York, graduating from Liverpool High School. She spent time as a foreign exchange student in Norway. She was a devoted employee of Wayne Central School District and Xerox Corporation while they were living in Ontario, New York for many years.
Jackie and Nick enjoyed their retirement at the home they built on Seneca Lake, until they permanently relocated to Sebastian, Florida. Jackie loved the Florida sunshine, beaches and the beautiful Florida clouds. She would proudly declare that she was a Floridian to everyone she spoke to. She was a ray of sunshine in the lives of everyone who was blessed enough to know her. Her smile lit up the room, and her laughter filled our hearts with joy. She enjoyed time with her friends, volunteering at the Dundee public library, playing bridge and traveling the world.
She leaves behind her children, Amy Argona and Andrew (Shelley) Argona; two grandchildren, Aaron Landcastle and Amanda Landcastle; sister-in-law, Jean Bourdeau and many nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends.
Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Maurer Funeral Home, Inc., 300 Second St., Liverpool, NY 13088.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to VNA Hospice House in Vero Beach, Florida,
Please sign the Maurer Funeral Home online guestbook for Jackie to express your condolences to her family at

Death notices
JACQUELINE M. ARGONA, 88, Jan. 24, 2024. Arrangements by Maurer Funeral Home, Liverpool, New York.
MARGARET L. DILGARD, 99, of Penn Yan, Jan. 26, 2024 at Penn Yan Manor. Arrangements by Weldon Funeral Home, Penn Yan.
DAVID L. DYSON, 79, Dec. 22, 2023 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He lived in the Finger Lakes area as a young man. His parents were the Rev. Leo W. and Ruby Dyson who served several Episcopal churches in the area. Smith Family Funeral Home, Little Rock, Arkansas, handled the arrangements.
JAMES C. “JIMBO” FREY, 66, of Hammondsport, Jan. 22, 2024. Arrangements by Bishop & DeSanto Funeral Home, Hammondsport.
MARY E. FULKROD, 80, of Penn Yan, Jan. 25, 2024. Arrangements by Weldon Funeral Home, Penn Yan.
CHARLOTTE J. LADD, 77, of Penn Yan, Jan. 28, 2024. Arrangements by Weldon Funeral Home, Penn Yan.


Obituaries/Memorial/Death Notices week of Jan. 31:

Mary Wallenbeck, 74, of Odessa, is in Heaven!  All of her family was by her side as Jesus welcomed her home. As a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend she will be missed dearly.
Mary was born Oct. 14, 1949, the daughter of James and Mary Wolfe. She was a resident of Odessa for over 47 years.  She retired as the health manager at Schuyler Head Start after 33 years of service.
Besides her parents, she was predeceased by her brother, Jesse Wolfe and brother-in-law, Shawn Northrup. She is survived by her husband, John E. Wallenbeck; sons Bill and Angela Mosher of Alpine, Mike and Sonja Wallenbeck of Nashville, and Brian Wallenbeck and Theresa Mathews of Alpine; brother Jeffery Wolfe, sisters Martha Northrup and Darlene Gillis; six grandchildren, Emily, Ethan, Maddy, Jenna, Julia and Ashli; three great-grandchildren, Penny, Thatcher and Jack; sisters-in-law Sandra Wolfe and Alice Clawson; and very special, best friend Debra Elliott and several nieces and nephews.
The family received friends and relatives at the Royce-Chedzoy Funeral Home, 212 E. Fourth St., Watkins Glen, Wednesday, Jan. 24 from 6-8 p.m. A funeral service was held Thursday, Jan. 25 at 11 a.m. at the Church of Christ, 165 Miller St., Horseheads.  
It’s been reassuring and comforting for all of us to know that for Mary being absent from her body was to be present with her Lord. We are resting in God’s promise in his gift of salvation to all of us that Mary so humbly and undeservedly received Him.

Death notices
JACQUELINE M. (ANDERSEN) ARGONA, 88, of Sebastian, Florida, Jan. 24, 2024. Arrangements by Maurer Funeral Home, Liverpool, New York.
MARY WALLENBECK, 74, of Odessa, Jan. 19, 2024. Arrangements by Royce-Chedzoy Funeral Home, Watkins Glen.
BODIZSAR FRANCIS WOOD, infant son of Erica and Frank A. Wood of Van Etten, Jan. 18, 2024. Arrangements by Royce-Chedzoy Funeral Home, Watkins Glen.
Sections: Left Menu