Obituaries – June 2016

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by W.B. King

Musical Director Barbara Vander Hart Fondly Remembered

2016-HI-July-Barbara-Vander-Hart-Obit-PAGE-23Musical, spiritual, loving, caring, friendly, selfless and buoyant—these are but a few adjectives that illustrate the life and times of Barbara E. Vander Hart. Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow residents remember her as the musical director for the Reformed Church and The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. There she served alongside her devoted and loving husband, Rev. Gerald Paul Vander Hart, from 1972 to 1998.

“If you were getting married, my mom would play the music and then ask if you needed help with your wedding dress. She would then want to help the maid of honor and the bridesmaids with their dresses. She would often offer to help with the food, too,” said Vander Hart’s daughter and Tarrytown resident, Laurie Birrittella. “She touched so many people and really had unconditional love for the people she met—many of whom became lifelong friends.”

Born in New York City on September 22, 1942, Vander Hart was raised in Feasterville, PA. After their nuptials in 1961, the couple served at DeWitt Reformed Church in New York City. Her musical medium was piano and organ. Her love of music centered on spirituals and chorales. The couple retired to Stillwater Township, NJ, where she served as musical director and organist for five years. Before leaving Sleepy Hollow, the Vander Harts were instrumental in raising the necessary funds for the magnificent and haunting Noack tracker pipe organ, which remains operational at The Old Dutch Church.

“They helped to replace the old pump organ that was there,” said Birrittella, who added that approximately $150,000 was raised. “There is a plaque on the back of the organ with my parents’ names on it, which is great. My mom was a spiritual mentor to many.”

Vander Hart is survived by her husband and four children and their spouses, Wendy (Joanne), Paul (Robin), Jennifer (Dan), and Laurie (Myles); nine grandchildren and four step-grandchildren; her brother and sister-in-law, John B. Thomson III and Judy; and a sister-in-law, Wally Fopma. She was laid to rest at the Burying Ground of the Old Dutch Gerald Barbelet, 71

Gerald Barbelet, a lifelong resident of Tarrytown and former village treasurer, died June 12 at age 71.

Mr. Barbelet was born in New York City on January 6, 1945. He graduated from Transfiguration School and Sleepy Hollow High School. On November 19, 1966, he married Maureen McGowan at Immaculate Conception Church.

Mr. Barbelet was retired after a long career of service and was well known for his many community activities. He was a Life Active member of Conqueror Hook and Ladder Co. #1, having received his 50-year badge. He also had served as company president for many years. He was a member of the Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns and the Knights of Columbus St. Elmo Council #318. He was also very active in local sports. He was a die-hard hockey fan who had been the goalie for the SHHS hockey team. A founding member of the Sleepy Hollow Hockey Boosters, he had coached a summer league hockey team. He had also been a coach for Dad’s Club for many years and was an avid New York Rangers fan as well.

Mr. Barbelet is survived by his loving wife, sons Kevin (Lauren), John (Leigh) and Dennis (Alyssa), and grandchildren Alexandra, Thea, Stephen, Emma and Aubrey.


Mario Belanich, 83
Mario Belanich, a longtime resident of North Tarrytown, died suddenly June 11, 2016. He was 83.
He came to the United States from Croatia in the early 1950s and settled in North Tarrytown. On September 15, 1957, he married Edna Esposito in Immaculate Conception Church.

Mr. Belanich had a long career with General Motors, retiring with 40 years in the company. He was a member of Local 664 of the UAW. He was also an active member of the Sleepy Hollow Seniors. As a parishioner of Transfiguration Church, he served as an usher and was also member of the Transfiguration Seniors. An avid gardener, he had an eye for beautiful flowers.

He was very involved in community affairs and was a regular attendee of both Village Board Meetings and School Board Meetings.

Josephine Leggio, 96
Josephine Leggio, whose family owns and operates Mima Restaurant in Irvington, died June 13 of natural causes. She was 96.

Born December 8, 1919 in Tarrytown, together with her husband, John, they enjoyed many years of their retirement in Arizona and returned to New York to spend the remaining years with family. He died in 2006.

She was a dedicated family woman who spent most of her life caring for her family. She loved cooking, and her legacy lives through Mima Restaurant. “Her picture will always hang on the wall here, her recipes will serve many, and her memory will live forever in our hearts,” the family stated.
She is survived by four sons, 15 grandchildren, and 29 great-grandchildren.

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