Velma Riseley Cashdollar Grazier died peacefully on her 94th birthday surrounded by her loving family. Velma’s family, friends, and faith were the cornerstones of her long life, which was marked by a great love of the outdoors and a dedication to selflessly serving others.
Velma was born on December 1, 1927, at the family farmhouse in Wittenberg, New York, to parents Everett Daniel Cashdollar and Walenah Riseley Cashdollar. Through the eighth grade, she attended Wittenberg’s one-room schoolhouse, and spent summers working at the family business, Locust Grove Dairy and the farm’s boarding house. She graduated from Kingston High School in 1945, and spent the early years of her adult life working at Carey’s luncheonette and bus station and the Woodstock Colonial Pharmacy.
On October 9, 1949, she married Roger E. Grazier. The pair met as members of the Kingston High Drum Corps, and they shared 52 wonderful years of marriage until his passing in 2001. Velma and Roger had two sons, Mark and Craig. They taught their sons the value of service, both of whom went on to have long careers in service to their country and community: the U.S. Army for Mark and the New York State Police for Craig. She took an active role in their education both in and out of the classroom, acting as a room mother and president of the local PTA and as a Cub Scout den mother, which let her share her great love of the outdoors with her sons.
That love for getting outside also meant regular family camping trips to Great Sacandaga Lake, where the family later bought a second home, called “Sag Haus,” a place where there was always something delicious cooking and where many warm family memories were formed. It was also a place to dock their boat, which Velma and Roger needed, as they were avid boaters who made many trips up and down the Hudson River and on the Adirondack Lakes.
Velma enjoyed a long career in education, working as a teaching assistant at the Phoenicia Elementary School for 25 years and receiving a Jenkins Award in 1978 for her service to children. Although she “retired” in 1990, Velma continued to find ways to contribute to her community, including, but not limited to, being a member of the Woodstock Methodist Church and later the Overlook United Methodist Church, where she played a pivotal role in Bible study, women’s, and ministry groups; a member and past president of Woodstock Unit 1026 American Legion Auxiliary; a member and committeeman (along with her husband) of the Woodstock Republican Club; and board member for the homeowner’s association at Maverick Knolls, where she lived. She also volunteered in the emergency departments of Benedictine Hospital and Health Alliance Hospital in her later years.
Ever the outdoorswoman, she loved skiing the slopes of the Catskills and didn’t hang up her skis until the ripe age of 80 years old! In her younger years, she also enjoyed waterskiing, cross-country skiing, and skating on Yankeetown Pond. Velma never met a body of water in New York state that she couldn’t find a way to enjoy.
She was generous in her support for professional sports teams, but naturally favored those from New York; the Giants, Jets, Bills, and Army Football teams could count on her support, although she also rooted for the Seahawks on the side. A nature lover, Velma could often be found tending her vegetable and flower gardens and always had at least one birdfeeder by the window.
Velma was a devout believer in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and shared her faith with many people. Most of all, she loved her family and all the happy times they shared. Her door was always open to her children, family, and friends, and they will miss her dearly.
Velma was predeceased by her husband Roger; her parents; her brother, Roger E. Cashdollar; her sister-in-law, Ruth Grazier Francisco; and her niece, Barbara Garcia. She is survived by her son Mark and his wife, Janice, of Nashua, NH; her son Craig, and his wife, Joann, of Shokan, NY; and four grandchildren and their spouses: Sarah and her husband, Gerry; Ben and his wife, Kathleen; Erik and his husband, Michael; and Michele; and one great-granddaughter, Lily.
A service will be held in the spring (date to be determined) to remember Velma among the flowers and nature she so loved. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to the Woodstock Historical Society, Tunnel to Towers Foundation, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Memorial Services are under the direction of the E. B. Gormley Funeral Home 87 Main St. Phoenicia. You may share a special memory or condolence with the family on Velma’s Tribute Wall at www.gormleyfuneralhome.com.