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Mereness-Putnam Funeral Home
171 Elm Street
| Cobleskill, NY 12043
Tel: 1-518-234-3549
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Welcome to the memorial page for

Franklin C. Clapper

March 26, 1928 ~ February 4, 2017 (age 88)
Middleburgh: Franklin Charles Clapper, a lifelong resident of the Schoharie County area, died on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at home in Middleburgh after a prolonged bout with congestive heart failure. He was 88. During his working life he was always an entrepreneur, running three different businesses before retiring in 1990. Although he maintained a constant interest and presence in the Gilboa area, he resided mostly in the Middleburgh school district.

Franklin was born March 26, 1928, to parents Franklin W. and Vashti (Smith) Clapper,
on the former Goodfellow farm on Harrington Road, Town of Gilboa, a short walk from the Clapper family farm established in 1815 on Allen Hill Road. While living there, the family suffered the loss of almost their entire dairy herd to the widespread tuberculosis epidemic of that time. Around the same time, Franklin C's grandfather Frank died, leaving no one to run the general store at Mackey's Corners. So, the family moved to Mackey's Corners to take over that business along with additional farm property left by grandfather Frank. When his father took a full-time job in Schenectady during World War II, while Franklin was in high school, he helped his mother run the store until they were forced to close it, as gas rationing made it impossible to get supplies for the store.

Franklin participated in all available sports while in high school, and, upon graduation from Gilboa-Conesville Central School in 1945, Franklin went to Cortland State College to prepare for a teaching/coaching career in physical education. However, it became apparent to him that he was more interested in dairy farming than coaching and, after one year of college, he decided to join his father as partners in re-building their dairy farm, which now included property around Mackey's Corners, as well as the family farm on Allen Hill. In 1948 Franklin married Phyllis Maie Dewell of North Blenheim, whom he had started dating when they both entered GCCS at the 7th grade level. In 1951 Franklin and Phyllis purchased and moved to their own dairy farm at the end of Smith Road, off Armlin Hill Road in the Town of Fulton. While living on this farm, they were very active in local (Breakabeen) activities, including the Presbyterian Church, Grange (where they loved to square-dance) and Couples Club, especially since much of Phyllis's family lived in Breakabeen.

In 1956 the family moved to Preston Hollow where they took over the general store started by the Elsbrees and then run by the Steadman family. While in Preston Hollow, the family faithfully attended the Preston Hollow Baptist Church. Franklin was a member of the Tri-Village Fire Department, the local Rod & Gun Club, two bowling leagues in Middleburgh, volunteering as a Sunday School teacher, and coaching the local baseball team, while Phyllis had her hands full raising four children and helping Franklin in the store, but also supporting various social activities around town.

Although the store business was quite successful, it began to put a strain on the family, as it became increasingly difficult for small independent stores to survive. So, in 1964 they sold the business and moved to Allen Hill in Gilboa, where Franklin, at the age of 36, entered upon a career as a New York Life Insurance Company field underwriter. Although he never enjoyed "selling," and found it impossible to deliver the canned sales talk the company recommended, he succeeded through hard work, sincere belief in the value of his product, and building trust with his clients, the same values that had driven his dairy farming and general store businesses.

Tragedy struck the family in early 1966, when it was discovered that Phyllis had terminal cancer. She died later that year, a few days before her 38th birthday. In 1967 Franklin married Isabelle Sparrow Peek, who had similarly lost her first spouse to cancer. After expanding Isabelle's house on Cliff Street in Middleburgh, the combined family settled there in 1968, where they spent one summer all together before the older children started leaving home to go off on their own. In the 1970's, he made a serious attempt to get back into the dairy business by putting together a milking herd on his father's farm at Mackey's corners, but, in his 40's he found that he could no longer manage two jobs 12 miles apart. A few years after all the children had left home, Franklin and Isabelle downsized to a much smaller home just a few doors down on Cliff St. Isabelle passed away on September 3, 2013.

Franklin maintained his membership in Farm Bureau until his death and continued to actively manage 75 acres of woodlot on the family farm on Allen Hill, joining with his sons cutting firewood until just a few years ago. Along with that, he built and maintained a collection of ten Silver King tractors, starting with his father's tractor and re-assembling a workshop on Allen Hill that had been built by his uncle Philip Clapper for an auto repair business at Mackey's Corners in the early 1900's. He and Isabelle enjoyed traveling with an RV, including trips around the US as far as California and annual trips to Florida to stay with friends from Middleburgh for a few months in the winter. His interest in sports also continued through watching professional basketball and baseball on TV.

In addition to his two wives, he is pre-deceased by his sister, Geraldine Clapper Neumeyer Hinman. Survivors include his sister-in-law, Fanchon Dewell Cornell of North Blenheim, four children and their spouses - Franklin C. (Jr.) & Dorothy Clapper; Fr. Theophylact (Phillip M. Clapper) of Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery in Jordanville, NY; Kevin and Kathy Clapper of Binghamton; Phyllis Jeanne Clapper Hawkins of Richfield Springs; two step-sons and their spouses - Robert & Vicki Peek of Middleburgh; David and Mary Peek of Schenectady; seven grandchildren living in New Jersey, Texas, Maryland, and New York; and nine great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 11:00AM on Friday, February 10, 2017 at Palmer & Shaylor Funeral Home, 134 River Street, Middleburgh, NY with Pastor Jeffrey Kelley of the Middleburgh Reformed Church officiating. A period of visitation will be 10:00AM-11:00AM on Friday, prior to the service. Spring interment will be in Gilboa Cemetery.

Memorial contributions in Franklin's memory may be made to a charity of one's choice.


FEB 10. 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Palmer & Shaylor Funeral Home

134 River Street

Middleburgh, NY, US, 12122

Funeral Service

FEB 10. 11:00 AM

Palmer & Shaylor Funeral Home

134 River Street

Middleburgh, NY, US, 12122

 Service Information

A service summary is not available

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