In Memoriam – February 2019

Mona Therese Alexander

Mona Therese Alexander, 58, of Belgrade, Maine, died Nov. 30, 2018, after a long battle with cancer.

She was born Nov. 9, 1960, in Lewiston, Maine, the daughter of Jacqueline Abbott. She graduated from Lewiston High School, class of 1979.

After high school, she worked various jobs before finding her calling at Geiger in Lewiston. She excelled at Geiger and won various awards for her work ethic and experience. She was able to work there for 29 years before her disease hindered her ability to work and forced her to retire. She loved her work community and will always love and be loved within her work family.

She was the rock of the family, willing to help everyone with anything. She also enjoyed Maine harness racing with her husband, Kevin. They owned and raced several horses throughout the years and had many friends related to that industry.

Outside of work, she loved the ocean, especially being able to walk along the beach. Her favorite thing was being around her friends and family. She enjoyed all the family get-togethers and parties.

She is survived by her husband, Kevin; his son, Scott, and his son, Grayson; sister, Tina (husband Mike), and their children, Brittany (daughter Aubrey), Aaron and Connor; brother, Larry (wife Ann), and their children, Iris and Will; sister-in-law, Jackie (husband Chuck); niece, Angela (husband Joe), and daughters Sierra and Addie; nephew, Brad; brother-in-law, Ron (wife Kathy); and nephew, Nate.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at https://mainehealth.org/barbara-bush-childrens-hospital.

 

Terry Altmeyer

Terry R. Altmeyer, 56, of Kittanning, Pa., died Dec. 17, 2018, at his residence.

He was born on June 27, 1962, to William and Ruth (Wissinger) Altmeyer in Indiana, Pa. Mr. Altmeyer worked as an entrepreneur and was a longtime owner, trainer and driver racing at The Meadows, Northfield Park and on the Pennsylvania and Ohio fair circuits.

He also loved listening to the Ramones.

Mr. Altmeyer is survived by his wife, Laura (Schoeffel); mother, Ruth; son, Tyler (Amanda); daughter, Megan (Ken Oiler); granddaughter, Allison; four brothers, William Jr., Daniel, Robert, and Thomas; stepson, Nicholas Johnston; stepdaughter, Katie (Jory) Melik; stepgrandsons, Bryce and Maximus Melik; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, William E., Sr.

 

Russell Baldwin

Russell G. Baldwin, 79, of Plain City, Ohio, who trained, drove and judged at the Ohio county fairs, died unexpectedly Dec. 22, 2018, at his residence.

Born Sept. 28, 1939, in Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Baldwin grew up in Richwood, Ohio. His paternal grandfather, Bruce Baldwin, introduced him to harness racing. At age 17, he obtained his racing license. He was a member of the USTA.

Mr. Baldwin became a regular at Scioto Downs and the county fair circuits in the summers. During the winter months, he raced at Lebanon and Northfield. He even ventured north of the border into Ontario, to race at Windsor Raceway. Mr. Baldwin was often the winningest driver of the Scioto Downs racing season, with wins establishing new track records and national season’s marks.

After a long 50 years in the harness horse business, he semi-retired to the responsibility of presiding judge at various Ohio county and independent fair races.

When he was not busy with his judging duties, he was an active member of the Hilliard Ray Patch and Marysville YMCA. He was a member of Marysville and Delaware Eagles. He loved to travel, taking many group trips to Florida, Branson, Mo., and the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Mr. Baldwin loved the Ohio State Buckeyes, going to several football games, and was very excited when he was on the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer in February 2017. His recent favorite Ohio State Buckeye memory was attending the Ohio State vs. Maryland game where the Buckeyes won a close game in overtime.

He is survived by his loving daughters, Robin (Gary) Smith, Jerri (Roger) Legler and Nikki (Shawn) Whitt; son-in-law, Jerry Sullivan; grandchildren, Brandon (Becky) Smith, Dustin (Kristin) Minthorn, A.J. (Jenni Wright) Minthorn, Bailey Legler, Nick Legler, Anthony Sullivan, Nathan Sullivan, Davey Boysel, Dylan Boysel, Paige Whitt, Connor Whitt and Collin Whitt; great-grandchildren, Payton Cotter, Grady Wright, Leland Minthorn, Brynn Minthorn, Stella Minthorn, Marissa Smith, Iivy Smith and Bryson Smith; special companion, little “Corkey”; brother, Bruce; and sister, Fran.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Lloyd and Clarabelle (Smith); wife of 52 years, Judy (Latham), in 2010; daughter, Beverly Sullivan, in 2008; and grandson, Joshua Tate Minthorn, in 1980.

Memorial contributions may be made to the New California Presbyterian Church at www.newcallychurch.org/contact-us.html.

 

Janine M. Grasso

Janine M. Grasso, 62, of Hawthorne, N.Y., died Dec. 24, 2018.

She was born on March 21, 1956, to the late Charles and Dolores (nee LaBud) Miller in Chicago, Ill.

She was formerly director of student accounts for Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., for 18 years and was president and CEO of John Grasso Stables Inc. in Hawthorne, N.Y.

She is survived by her devoted husband, John; children, John J. Jr. (Margaret) and Joanne M. (James) Maxwell; sister, Constance M. (Paul) Ness; brother, Michael (Patricia) Miller Sr.; grandchildren, James A. Maxwell, Julia M. Maxwell, John J. III and Bridget K.; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her brother, Charles Miller, in 2006.

Memorial contributions may be made to Team Julia and Co. Kids Walk for Kids with Cancer, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 885 Second Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10017.

 

Benney Lee Haller

Benney Lee Haller, 74, died peacefully at home Jan. 1, 2019, following an extended battle with interstitial lung disease and lung cancer.

He was born July 7, 1944, in Columbus, Ohio, to the late Merle W. and Betty Ann (Skatzes-Cross) Haller. On Aug. 28, 1965, he married his best friend, Margaret M. Schaeffing, who survives.

In addition to his wife, Peg, he is survived by their children, Michael (Carol), Dr. Patricia (Bradley Smith), Nettina (“Tina”) and Matthew (Jill); grandchildren, Andrea, Benjamin, Nick, Daniel, Bradyn Smith, Meryl and Vincent; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and special friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; stepfather, Robert Vogelgesang; brother, H. Timothy; and sister, Terryanne.

Mr. Haller was a graduate of Mendon Union High School, class of 1962. Upon graduating from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in 1963, he managed funeral homes in Coshocton and Canton, Ohio. At the age of 27, with three children under the age of 5, he and Peg made a bold decision to buy the former Heiby Memorial Home located on S. Paint St. in Chillicothe on Nov. 1, 1971. They would later realize a lifelong dream to give back to the community that had supported them so graciously by building an entirely new funeral home at its current location on Western Avenue.

Among his many accomplishments and contributions to his community, Mr. Haller was a founding member of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Woody Hayes Sports Spectacular, founding member of the Ducks Unlimited Scioto Valley Chapter, past president of Jaycees, past member and Paul Harris Fellow of Chillicothe Noon Rotary, Ross Co. Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year, and Mercator Club Man of the Year. He was also a member of St. Mary Catholic Church and the Chillicothe Country Club.

Besides his tremendous sense of humor and wit, many will remember him for his passion for Standardbred racehorses, playing golf, hunting and fishing, and playing cards. He was happiest when surrounded with people, be it family, friends or consoling a family. His legacy will live on in the many hearts and lives he touched.

The family is most appreciative of the care and compassion shown by Adena Hospice staff, caregiver Jamie Maddy and Dr. John Seidensticker, who together made sure Mr. Haller was able to be at home with family and comfortable.

Memorial contributions may be made to Bishop Flaget School Endowment Fund, c/o The Catholic Foundation, 257 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215.

 

June Jeanette Hudson

June Jeanette Hudson, 82, of Huntington Station, N.Y., died Jan. 3, 2019, surrounded by her family, after a long battle with colon cancer. She would have turned 83 on Jan. 5.

Mrs. Hudson was the daughter of Clinton and Ethel Brooks and was born in New York City at the New York Presbyterian Hospital on Jan. 5, 1936.

She was a former member of the USTA and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. In the 1960s, along with her husband, William, she owned horses that raced at Roosevelt and Yonkers raceways under the stable name of the Orange & Black Stables. During that time, she was part owner of an Adios Harry colt named LACH whose name was arrived at by using the first initials of all of the partners’ last names: Levy, Alder, Cohen and Hudson.

Mrs. Hudson worked in the restaurant industry and at one time worked at Mimmos of Westbury, which was directly across the street from Roosevelt Raceway. It was while she was working at Mimmos that a customer and friend of hers, New York Jets coach Walt Michaels, appointed her an honorary member of the New York Jets coaching staff.

She was a member of the American Federation of Astrologers and at one time was ranked as one of the top astrologers in the country. She had taught astrology and had appeared on several TV shows. George Morton Levy Jr., the son of Roosevelt Raceway’s founder, was at one time one of her students.

She was preceded in death by her parents, who both owned Standardbreds; her husband, William, who was a Roosevelt and Yonkers raceway driver/trainer; and a brother, Gerald Brooks.

She is survived by her children, Fred (Susan) and Lanette (Dave) Woelfel; granddaughter, Chelsea Hines; brother, Roger (Laura) Brooks; and many cousins, nephews and nieces.

Condolences may be sent to the Butler-Hughes Funeral Home, 69 Indian Head Rd., Kings Park, NY 11754.

 

Gerald “Gerry” Kazmaier

Trainer and driver Gerald T. “Gerry” Kazmaier, 75, originally of Far Hills, N.J., died at his home in Pompano Beach, Fla., on Dec. 4, 2018.

An alumnus of Bernardsville (N.J.) High School, Mr. Kazmaier began his driving career at Saratoga in the early 1960s and was hired by leading Canadian trainer Roger Lareau soon after to drive for his stable. He went on to enjoy success all across North America through a career which spanned thousands of miles and six decades.

He won the first race ever contested at Phoenix (Ariz.) Trotting Park in 1965, and nearly a thousand others as a driver up to his retirement in 2013. His best season in the bike was 1999, when he won 75 races and earned nearly $300,000 in purses while competing exclusively on the California circuit.

Mr. Kazmaier notably drove Ru Girl in her California Sire Stakes starts at 2, 3 and 4, and the pair teamed up for 11 wins over stakes company in the Golden State.

Additionally, Mr. Kazmaier earned track records at Cal Expo, Los Alamitos, Hazel Park, Centennial Park and Fraser Downs throughout the course of his career, many with his own trainees.

His homebred Summer Fashion won the 1994 Surrey Cup at Cloverdale Raceway (now Fraser Downs) in British Columbia, and his trotter Cellebrity Force still holds a 1:57 track record for 3-year-old trotting geldings at Cal Expo, which he took in 2005.

While much of his success came in the western half of the continent, Mr. Kazmaier captured a training and driving title at Freehold Raceway in the 1980s, snapping Hervé Filion’s 10-year streak atop the driver standings.

Mr. Kazmaier, who was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Martin, is survived by his longtime partner, Ron Goldman; brothers, Daniel and Richard; and many nieces and nephews.

 

James “Jimmy” Landess

James “Jimmy” Landess, 64, died Dec. 12, 2018, at Persimmon Ridge Healthcare in Portland, Ind. He was born in Portland on Nov. 22, 1954, the son of Jerry and Mary (Gelzleichter) Landess.

A 1973 Portland High School graduate, Mr. Landess was an accomplished driver and raced all over the U.S. and Canada until being injured in a racing accident.

Surviving are his parents, Jerry and Mary; brother, Gary; sister, Lisa Reyes; and several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Memorial contributions may be made to the choice of the donor.

 

Maurice J. “Maury” May

Maurice J. “Maury” May, 92, former president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) and a member of the organization for 55 years, died Dec. 8, 2018, in Amherst, N.Y.

A high school graduate at age 14, Mr. May began a 47-year career at the Buffalo News in 1942. He is remembered by colleagues as “the aide who ripped the news flash of the D-Day Invasion off the teletype machine.” After serving in the U.S. Navy, he returned to the News and rose through the ranks to become assistant sports editor.

Among his several “beats” during his news career was the strong harness racing circuit of Buffalo-Batavia in western New York, where he chronicled local racing. He also kept his readers abreast of area horses and horsemen who did well on the national harness racing scene. His column, “Maury’s Picks,” was a longtime feature in the Buffalo News.

Mr. May served the first of his 24 years as an USHWA director in 1966, representing the Western New York Chapter, of which he would become president. He was elected national president of USHWA for the 1985-1986 term, and received a key to the city from Buffalo mayor James Griffin. He was the Buffalo Area Bowling Council’s Man of the Year in both 1983 and 1997. He was one of the first inductees into the Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mr. May is survived by his sons, Maurice Jr. and Michael; daughter, Marcia May Farley; a brother, Richard; four grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his wife, the former Mary Kurch.

 

Jan McPherson

Jan McPherson, 85, died Dec. 3, 2018, in Florida.

He was born to Charles E. “Bud” and Margaret E. “Peg” (Evans) McPherson. He was preceded in death by his wife, Juanita (Pope); younger brother, Jerry; and nephew, Mark. He is survived by his brother, Lawrence S. “Larney” (Trudy); nieces, Debra (Hank) Wise, Susan (John) White and Beth Ann; and granddaughter, Jody (David) Miller, with whom he resided in Florida.

Mr. McPherson graduated from The Ohio State University. He was a veteran, having served in the U.S. Army. He retired from Xenia Community Schools in Xenia, Ohio, where he taught high school math for many years.

His true loves were math and horses. He trained and drove Standardbreds—his own and for Chip Noble Stables. Many Xenia locals knew him well and he could be seen frequenting many stores and visiting friends he loved in his hometown. HB

 

Please send obituaries to In Memoriam, Hoof Beats, 6130 S. Sunbury Rd., Westerville, OH 43081-9309. You can also send them by email to news@ustrotting.com, or by fax to 844.229.1338 (toll free U.S. and Canada) or 614.224.4575 (outside the U.S. and Canada). Obituaries are subject to editing for clarity and space.

 

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