Vedora Hunter Maloney, aged 102, passed away on Christmas Eve 2020, and celebrated Christmas in Heaven.
Vedora Adelaide Whalen Barcomb Hunter Maloney, the “lady with many names,” was the third child born to John and Helen (Nellie Pelkey) Whalen. She was born on March 25, 1918 in Mineville, New York.
On October 9, 1918, when Vedora was 6 1/2 months old, her mother Nellie passed away at the age of 25, from the Spanish influenza. Within 5 days, three other family members died of the same illness. Vedora’s young father was unable to care for his three little girls alone; therefore, he sent them to live with his parents, John and Jane (Wine) Whalen in Ellenburg. John and Jane raised her older sisters Electa and Ferne, while Vedora was raised by a first cousin of her father, Jennie (Whalen) and her husband Henry Barcomb, and Vedora assumed their last name. Jennie felt that Vedora was too young to go to school and kept her at home until she was seven. As a student, Vedora showed exceptional skill, skipped second and fourth grades, and graduated at 17. (It is believed that she was the last surviving member of the Class of 1935 from Chateaugay High School). Jennie believed Vedora was too young to go to college, so in the fall of 1935 she took a postgraduate course at Chateaugay High School, then continued her education at Plattsburgh Normal School (now called SUNY Plattsburgh), graduating in 1939.Growing up, she moved several times with the Barcombs to different farms that Henry rented in Churubusco and Chateaugay. After college graduation, Vedora took different jobs in rural schools in Burke and Chateaugay. In 1941 she had the school district hold her wages until the end of the school year so she could help Henry and Jennie pay for their farm in Burke, across from the Cherry Knoll Restaurant. The farm cost $2500, and Vedora gave them her $1100 annual salary. She wanted to pay them back for raising her and helping her get an education. When she grew up, times were hard. She was unable to afford a high school class ring, and she went without a lot, but always maintained a “can do” attitude.
In 1941 while at the Franklin County Fair, her neighbor Warren Hunter asked her to go for a ride on the Ferris Wheel. She was scared of the ride but wanted to go with him, so she said yes anyway. The ride stopped at the very top while they were on it. She recalled this memory again when seeing the Ferris Wheel at the 2017 fair. They married secretly at the rectory of St. George’s Church in Burke on November 1, 1942. On their first anniversary when they had enough money to get a farm of their own, their marriage was announced in the Chateaugay Record, and they moved into their first and only home, in Burke.
They became parents to two children: Elaine, and a stillborn son they named Stephen Joseph.
As the years went by Vedora continued to teach in various neighborhood country schools, and retired as a 5th grade teacher from Flanders Elementary, in Malone, NY in 1976. After a time, she returned to work, tutoring migrant students at Chateaugay Central School for a few years.
Vedora had many interests including: painting landscapes, traveling, reading, music, animals, and nature. She was the self-proclaimed “Mayor of the Lewis Road,” was a great storyteller and poet, and loved to talk and laugh for hours. She had many friends, and all who knew her had good things to say about her kind and generous nature.
To her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she was known as Nanny. Nanny was an amazing and enthusiastic lady. She had tremendous drive and a zeal for life. She was often in the front row of her grandkids’ events. While there, she would share a warm smile and quick joke with community members, many of whom also called her Nanny. When her grandkids set out to master new skills, she encouraged them, and often tried the new activities as well. She took guitar and piano lessons with some of her grandkids when she was in her 70s. She was a consistent chauffeur for her grandkids’ many activities, and took her love of driving to the next level when she got her official taxi license shortly after turning 80. She taught her grandkids to read, bake, drive, to enjoy learning and science, and often helped with homework. She encouraged their creative sides with art, music, and poetry. She was a patient, kind, and loving woman, and took delight in the small things. She will be dearly missed, and her beautiful memory will live on in our hearts forever. She leaves behind quite the legacy.
Vedora is survived by her daughter, Elaine and son-in-law, Robert O’Connor of Chateaugay, NY; her eight grandchildren: Sheridan O’Connor and his wife Erin (Kolkman) of Cary, NC; Sedrick O’Connor and his wife Kimberly (Schmidt) of Fishkill, NY; Jennifer O’Connor of Burlington, VT; Caroline O’Connor and her companion Adam Frehm of Colchester, VT; Sacha O’Connor of Burlington, VT; Britney Smith and her husband Benjamin of Fulton, MD; Warren O’Connor and his wife Emily (Gardiner) of Saratoga Springs, NY; and Savanna O’Connor and her companion Shane Hardiman of Jericho, VT. She is also survived by six great-grandsons: Brady, Bailey, Luke, and Liam O’Connor, and Jacob and Levi Smith; and two great-granddaughters: Nola O’Connor and Elizabeth Smith. Additionally, Vedora is survived by many nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her birth parents and her foster parents, Henry and Jennie Barcomb, along with her husband Warren Hunter in 1974 and her second husband, John Maloney, in 1977. Her two older sisters predeceased her; Electa LaClair on January 29, 2003, and Ferne Engel on May 13, 1996. She was also predeceased by a grand-son-in-law Matthew Rafferty (Sacha O’Connor) in 2014.
Calling hours and her funeral will be private, and burial will be in The North Burke Cemetery in the spring. A memorial service, open to the public, will be announced at a later date. The funeral will have the ability to be livestreamed. Please visit https://www.facebook.com/Deac2009/?epa=SEARCH_BOX.
The family would like to thank Penny Chapman, Vedora’s caregiver in the final year of her life, for providing exceptional care and attention. Penny treated Vedora as a loved one and cherished family member, and our family is deeply grateful for the care she provided.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to one of the following organizations: ASPCA: aspca.org, (800) 628-0028, 424 E. 92nd St, New York, NY 10128; St Jude Children’s Research Hospital: stjude.org, (800) 478-5833, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105; St. Patrick’s Church, https://www.rcdony.org/franklin-deanery/burke-chateaugay.html, 132 W. Main St, Chateaugay, NY 12920 (518) 497-6673.
Arrangements are with the Chateaugay Funeral Home. Online condolences may be offered at www.chateaugayfuneralhome.com.