Niskayuna couple killed in auto collision
Halbfingers recalled as caring, supportive, happy in retirement
NISKAYUNA Mary Halbfinger’s co-worker remembers her as family oriented.
A friend of Halbfinger’s husband, George, remembers him as someone whose family was always a topic of conversation.
Those who knew the Halbfingers were remembering them Tuesday, a day after the couple was killed in a car crash in western New York.
The parents of two grown boys, George, 65, and Mary Halbfinger, 66, were among three who died in a two-car crash in Phelps, Ontario County, about 35 miles southeast of Rochester. The couple was in the Rochester area for the wedding of a niece, a friend said. Also killed was Judy Young, 55, of Phelps, who was riding with the Halbfingers.
The crash happened just after 10 a.m. Monday, according to the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department. A car driven by George Halbfinger was traveling east when he went to turn north. That’s when a car driven by 42-year-old Michael Corcoran, of Phelps, collided with them.
Corcoran was taken to a local hospital and was listed in critical condition, officials said. The Halbfingers and Young were pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation into the crash is ongoing.
The Halbfingers lived in Niskayuna, spending the summer months in Galway, said friend Lois Tuohey of Colonie.
George Halbfinger had a doctorate in chemical engineering and worked at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory until retiring. Mary Halbfinger retired about five years ago from Catholic Charities, where she was a senior caseworker. Through her job at Catholic Charities, Mary also got her husband to volunteer there, working with the Meals on Wheels and health insurance counseling programs, friends recalled.
Pat Finlayson worked with Mary Halbfinger for several years at Catholic Charities. “She was wonderful, a very caring person. She cared about her clients. She was a very family-oriented person,” Finlayson said. “It’s just sad, very sad.”
Finlayson recalled Halbfinger recruiting her husband one year to help deliver Thanksgiving baskets.
Mary Halbfinger also enjoyed quilting, gardening and taking care of her animals, according to her obituary.
In addition to volunteering with his wife, George Halbfinger also did science magic shows at local schools and volunteered with the Boy Scouts. At KAPL, former co-worker Ernie Venerus recalled Halbfinger as knowledgeable.
“You ask him a question, and he would not only give you the answer you were looking for but everything in and around that,” Venerus recalled.
Venerus remembered Halbfinger after Tuesday’s bridge club program at the Shenendehowa Adult Community Center. Halbfinger played bridge there every week for much of the last decade. Mary Halbfinger would sometimes join her husband.
George Halbfinger’s usual bridge partner, though, was Tuohey. Tuohey recalled playing bridge with him for the past six years.
“He was very charitable,” she recalled. “He did a lot of good. He was a really great guy.”
Tuohey recalled Halbfinger having a bout with cancer in the past year but getting back to the golf course. The cancer treatment had forced him away from golf, but he had beaten the cancer, she recalled.
“He got past it and was in great humor,” Tuohey said. “He was never, ‘Feel sorry for me.’ That was the beautiful thing about him.”
She also recalled Halbfinger’s family being a constant topic of conversation. “He was just a really, really nice person,” Tuohey said.
Services for George and Mary Halbfinger are scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. at the Glenville Funeral Home, 9 Glenridge Road, East Glenville. Friends and relatives are invited to calling hours at the funeral home Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be sent to the Boy Scouts of America, Twin Rivers Council, 253 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12205, or to Catholic Charities of Schenectady, 375 Broadway, Schenectady, NY 12305.