Robert “Bunny” McLear Shelmidine, 96, Belleville

BELLEVILLE, NY —  Robert “Bunny” McLear Shelmidine was born on Oct. 3, 1926, and died at his residence after a decline in health with dementia on Dec. 3, 2022, surrounded by family.

Bunny was born to Everett Paul (E.P.) and Josephine McLear Shelmidine in the Town of Lorraine. His nickname was given to him as an infant and stuck with him his whole life. He grew up in Lorraine on the family farm and attended Adams High School, receiving a diploma in 1945. He left Lorraine in his early 20’s and moved to Belleville for a short period of time. He met the love of his life, Phyllis Hedger, at a New Year’s Eve dance and it was love at first sight. They married on July 15, 1950. Shortly after, they moved to the Adams area together and started raising a family.

Bunny worked for various jobs in the area. He was a pin setter at Adams bowling alley, a truck driver for GLF (Agway) and on the farms of Elwin Poor and Bob Smith before purchasing their family farm on County Route 79 Henderson where they lived until 1993 when they moved to the current residence in Belleville.

Bunny was an avid hunter and fisherman, travelling almost every inch of the Tug Hill to do both. He most often was hunting with his brothers, Paul and Stan and the stories that could be told were comical and (almost) true. He was fortunate to travel out west with not only his brothers but also his son Bob and several nephews. He made yearly trips to Canada for fishing and hunting with friends and family, going towards the Artic Circle for Caribou. His love of hunting and fishing led him to join The Mad River Club Inc in 1980 which he was a lifetime member of. He was also a hunting instructor, passing along his knowledge and love of hunting to so many in the area. Bunny was a member of the Belleville Masons Rising Light Lodge and Belleville Eastern Stars Eudora Chapter 136. He held numerous positions in the 3 organizations over the years.

Bunny was best known for his singing and yodeling, both of which he loved to do. He also played the harmonica and ukulele. If you ever had the great fortune to meet him, you inevitably heard one of his songs, sometimes about brown eyed girls, other times about a little brown jug or maybe the Red River Valley. One of the fondest memories his family has is driving in the car and singing along with him. He was hell on wheels when you got a pair of roller skates on him and he travelled faithfully ever week to Pulaski to skate with good friends for many years.

Surviving are his children: Dawn Planty, Phoenix, AZ; Bob (Cindy) Shelmidine, Pulaski, NY; Dennis (Delores) Shelmidine, Belleville, NY; Becky (Jeff) Buckingham, Lisbon, NY; Darcy Eastham, Cuba, NY; Rachel (Duck) Pitkin, Lorraine, NY; grandchildren: Charlie and Jay Planty, Penny Cline, Tammy White, Betsy Wood, Michael and Mark Shelmidine; Kimberly and Jon Goldsmith; RJ Shelmidine; Nathan and Brandon Taylor; Luke, Geoff and Jessica Buckingham; Alex and Allison Eastham; Ashley, Derek and Olivia Wood, Aleyah Pitkin; 30 great grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren; his brother Stan (Ilene) Shelmidine, Lorraine, NY; his sisters Ida (Stan) Holland, Lorraine NY and Madeline (Joe) Segouin, LaFargeville, NY.

He was predeceased by his wife, Phyllis, sons-in-law, Richard Planty and Tom Eastham, his sisters, Betty Shelmidine, Isabelle Averys, Helen Farman, and Roberta Stillman; his brothers, Jack and Paul Shelmidine.

Arrangements are with Carpenter-Stoodley Funeral Home in Belleville NY. Calling hours are 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, and 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10,  2022, with a funeral service to follow. Spring burial will be in the Woodside Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to Hospice of Jefferson County or the Belleville Volunteer Fire Department/Rescue Squad.

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