Beloved longtime Ulster County Legislature Clerk Karen L. Binder, who passed away in June of this year from breast cancer, was remembered last Tuesday morning with an intimate ceremony of family, friends and coworkers who gathered in the county’s cozy library quarters, appropriately situated between the legislature and the executive offices on the sixth floor of the County Office Building.
Back in July, the legislature unanimously voted to adopt Resolution Number 190, adjourning their July 17 session and naming the library and conference room the “Karen L. Binder Library Conference Room” in her memory.
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, County Executive Mike Hein stood in front of one of the two entrances into the library, both of which display plaques bearing her name, to give a few remarks on the woman who worked from her wheelchair until the month she passed away. “She was an amazing, amazing human being,” said Hein. “She touched so many people — on both sides of the aisle. It’s a huge loss and she was a dear friend.”
County Legislator Jeanette Provenzano knew Binder for many years, and helped arrange for the plaques and naming with Deputy County Executive Bob Sudlow. “It’s so appropriate it’s the library because she was friends with both sides of the aisle — the executive and legislative,” said Provenzano. “Nothing was ever too small or too difficult you could ask her to do.” Provenzano described Binder as a problem-solver, and marveled how she continued to work despite her health issues.
Binder’s mother, Faye Clune of Kingston, said her daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer two years before she passed. Sister Ellen DiFalco added that seeing how her sister’s memory was honored by coworkers was “emotional, and deep” and described it as “an honor.”
Coworker and legislative Fiscal Analyst Frank Reggero said that though he was relatively new in the building, he immediately respected Binder for her dedication. Reggero described how one evening, just one month before she passed, there were about three times as many resolutions as usual requiring her preparation, and that she worked through each and every one. “She would be here until 7 at night and I would have to say, ‘Come on Karen, let’s go home.’”
Community activist and family friend Jean Jacobs said she admired Binder for how hard she worked while ill, and never complained. “A true human being giving back.” Both Binder and Jacobs shared a love of cats, Jacobs owning 30 rescued felines. DiFalco, Clune and Binder’s surviving daughter in Texas, Danielle Smith, all took Binder’s cats after her death.
Donations in Binder’s name can be made to Ulster County SPCA, 20 Wiedy Road, Kingston, NY 12401.