Obituaries: Clark, Dickerson, Kontje, Freese, Ryan

Doris D. Clark

Doris Dickerson Clark passed away on Friday, February 14, 2014 at Candle Light Cove in Easton, Maryland at the age of 87.
Born on Shelter Island on November 28, 1926, she was the daughter of Henry Ellsworth Dickerson and Gertrude Case Dickerson.

Doris married Captain Gilbert Clifford Clark on September 15, 1946, whose family also had ties to the Island. They continued to make Shelter Island their home and raised their three daughters here. In 1974, they moved to Oxford, Maryland, where they owned and operated the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry.

Mrs. Clark is survived by her three daughters and their husbands: Valerie and David Bittner of Royal Oak, Maryland; Lorraine and Peter Mottla of Wayland, Massachusetts; and Sandra and John Fortiguerra of Lyman, Maine. She has six grandchildren and their spouses: Gretchen Bittner Looney (Bruce), Robb Clark Bittner (Jennifer), Nichole Havens Cole (Steven), Christopher Clark Mottla (Brigitte), Lindsay Haynes Vento (Peter) and Breanne Bowditch Sanderson (Douglas). Doris has six great-grandchildren: Matthew, Nicholas and Jackson Bittner; Taylor and Arianna Vento; and Ashley Sanderson. She is survived by a sister, Carol Ann Dickerson Hallman and her husband John of Shelter Island.

Doris was a member of the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, the Oxford Methodist Church and the Oxford Ladies Auxiliary.
Services will be private. Doris will be laid to rest in the Emily French Cemetery on Shelter Island.

Memorial donations may be made to the Talbot Hospice Foundation, 586 Cynwood Drive, Easton, MD 21601; the Talbot Company Humane Society, 7894 Ocean Gateway, Easton; or to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, 22 Bramhall Street, Portland, ME 04102.

Arrangements are by the Ostrowski Funeral Home in Maryland (



COURTESY PHOTO | Captain George Dickerson
COURTESY PHOTO | Captain George J. Dickerson

Captain George J. Dickerson

Captain George J. Dickerson, 88, husband of Marion, passed away on February 14, 2014 at his home on Shelter Island.

Born on Shelter Island, he spent his youth in West Neck and learned to play golf at Goat Hill with his sister Olivia and brothers Robert and Raymond.

In 1943, as WW II erupted, George volunteered and was inducted into the Army Air Force, assigned to flight training and earned his wings as a fighter pilot. As bomber losses were  heavy, he was re-trained to fly B-17s. He crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth, which had been converted to a troop carrier.

Stationed at Knettishall Air Field in England, his missions included bomb runs, Operation Chow Hound and evacuating P.O.W.s from a concentration camp.

George was called up to serve again, during the Korean conflict, flying the wounded out and dropping paratroopers.

In 1953 he was hired by American Airlines, retiring in 1985 after 32 years, remarking, “33,000 hours in the air and never scratched  plane.”

Being a Harelegger with a great passion for the outdoors, he enjoyed golfing, hunting, fishing, clamming and sailing.

George was instrumental in the effort to preserve Section 9, a charter member of the Gardiner’s Bay Country Club and secretary of the Hay Beach Property Owners Association. He was also Shelter Island’s representative to the Suffolk County Planning Commission.

He maintained his membership in the 388th Bombardment Group and the American Airlines Grey Eagles.

He is survived by his four children from his first marriage to Frances Cartwright (deceased): David and wife Susan of  Waterford, Connecticut and their children Christine, Heidi, Amy and Laurel; Douglas and wife Patricia of Old Lyme, Connecticut and their children Sean and Noelle; Darryl of Shelter Island; and Dawn of  Delhi, New York. He is also survived by his wife Marion S. Dickerson and stepdaughters Virginia, Christine and Valerie and numerous great-grandchildren.

George “topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace where never lark or even eagle flew,” his family quoted.

Walter E. Freese

Walter Egon Freese Jr. died on Friday, February 21, 2014, surrounded by family and friends at his home on Shelter Island.

During the golden age of publishing, he was the chief financial officer of Doubleday Publishing as well as the vice president of Doubleday Sports during the Mets World Series win of 1986.

Mr. Freese was born in 1928 in Hempstead to Kathryn (née Irwin) Freese and Walter Egon Freese.

He obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Hofstra University. After enlisting and serving as a sergeant in occupied Japan during WW II, Mr. Freese began working in the accounting department in Doubleday Publishing’s Garden City office. In 1953 he met and married Claire McCarthy, an interior designer from Washington, D.C. They had their first son a year later with a second son and identical twin daughters to follow.

Partially in response to his children’s persistent requests and partially because their father had a soft spot for animals, various and much-loved dogs, cats, gerbils and a horse or two were added to the picture over the years.

During his 40-year tenure at Doubleday, Mr. Freese was steadily promoted, moving to the firm’s Park Avenue office and ultimately becoming chief financial officer and executive vice president of Doubleday Publishing. He loved books and authors, his family said; the family home was filled with books and his own stories about some of the best-selling authors of the 20th century with whom he worked.

Most gratifying to Mr. Freese was his tenure as vice president of sports and sitting on the Board of Directors of the 1986 Mets.

He had been a loyal Mets fan since their inception in 1962 and it was his dream come true to be involved in professional baseball and to be the proud owner of the World Series ring that came with the Mets win in 1986.

Mr. Freese retired to Shelter Island in 1988. His son wrote that during his long career, he won the respect and affection of colleagues and friends through his intelligence, capability, thoroughness and his innate sense of fairness and kindness.

Mr. Freese is survived by his wife of 61 years and his four children, Walter Freese III of Bedford, New Hampshire; Richard Freese of Churchton, Maryland, Kathy Lee Junior of Stony Brook; and Virginia St. John of East Hampton. He is also survived by five grandchildren — Richard Freese, Erin Gregon, Lia St. John, Christopher Junior and Courtney Freese — three great-grandchildren, and his cat, Caesar.

Mr. Freese was a highly principled man of great warmth and kindness; those traits endeared him to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, the family said.


COURTESY PHOTO | Elizabeth L. Kontje
COURTESY PHOTO | Elizabeth L. Kontje

Elizabeth L. Kontje

Elizabeth (Betty) L. Kontje died suddenly on February 24, 2014 at Eastern Long Island Hospital.

The daughter of the late Millicent and Alexander Lenox, she was born January 21, 1929.

Betty was an active member of the Shelter Island Fire Department Auxiliary, former president of both the American Legion Post 281 and the Shelter Island Country Club. For the past 15 years she had enjoyed the challenging job of presiding over Goat Hill — the Shelter Island Country Club.

She enjoyed bowling, golf, playing mah-jongg, doing puzzles and crafts, and especially lunch with her friends.

Her work career included working as a front desk clerk at the Oxford Hall on Shelter Island and bookkeeper for the First National Bank. From 1958 to 1980 she worked for the Town of Shelter Island in a variety of capacities, including secretary to Town Supervisor Evans Griffing. She also owned and operated Nevel’s luncheonette for 10 years.

Betty was predeceased by her first husband, Joseph Barice Nevel, and then her husband George Kontje; her daughter and son-in-law Terry and Robert Tybaert; and great-grandson Devon Beamon.

She is survived by her loving daughter Norma and husband Russell (Bucky) Russo of Middletown, New York; her brother Robert and wife Sarah Lenox of Lincolnton, North Carolina; grandchildren Stephanie and husband Tony Montalvo of Shelter Island, Dawn Tybaert of Morrisville, North Carolina and Michael Russo of Goodyear, Arizona; great-grandson Darryl Robert Beamon of Morrisville; step-grandchildren John and wife Denise and Rusty and wife Margaret; step-great-grandchildren Cameron and Dominic — all of Middletown; sister-in-law Kolina and husband Robert Rei­ter; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. She is also survived by her adopted daughter, Esther Simovich.

The family received friends on Thursday, February 27  at the Shelter Island Funeral Home. Funeral services were held at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church on Friday, February 28  and interment followed at the Emily French Cemetery. After the graveside services, there was a reception at the Center firehouse.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, the Shelter Island Fire Department, Shelter Island Ambulance, American Legion Mitchell Post 281 or a charity of one’s choice.


Eva E. Ryan

Eva Elizabeth “Betty” Ryan passed away peacefully at the age of 95 in Hawthorne, New Jersey on February 21, 2014.

Born in Evanston, Illinois on July 29, 1918, Betty graduated from Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey and attended Chestnut Hill College. She worked as a model and photographer’s assistant before marrying Nicholas E. Ryan in 1942 and raising five children on Long Island.

She is survived by Barbara Endrizzi of Canton, Georgia; Rosemary Brennan (Charles) of Wyckoff, New Jersey, Nicholas Ryan, Jr. (Mary Ann Clark) of Bradenton, Florida; Susan Ryan of New York City; Joan “Robin” Ryan of Fairfield, Connecticut; eight grandchildren: Ellen and Michael Endrizzi; Julie Brennan Jacobs (Ron); Laura Brennan Feeley (Scott); Lindsey and Kevin Clark-Ryan; Michael and Brian Tharp; as well as six great-grandchildren. Betty was pre-deceased by her husband, Nick; her brother, Robert Flynn; and her grandson Geoffrey Clark-Ryan.

In 1952, Betty and Nick began summering on Shelter Island and found a special place on Westmoreland Farm. Betty was an avid golfer at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club, where she was a member for almost 50 years and Lakewood Country Club in St. Petersburg, Florida.

She was also an active volunteer in the neo-natal unit at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Betty created beautiful needlepoint and knitting pieces and her family will cherish all the art she created over the years.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Tuesday, February 25 at Our Lady of the Isle Church. Interment followed at Our Lady of the Isle Cemetery.

Donations in Betty’s memory may be made to the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation, P.O. Box 547, Shelter Island, NY 11964.

The Ryan family is grateful to the wonderful caregivers at Van Dyk Park Place in Hawthorne, New Jersey who cared for Betty during the last eight years.