Find us on Facebook

Clarendon

Clarendon native who lived to be 107 will be laid to rest on Wednesday at Hillside Cemetery

Photos courtesy of Melissa Ierlan: Clarendon Town Historian Melissa Ierlan is pictured last July with Ida M. Brace Cook.

Posted 29 August 2017 at 3:50 pm

By Melissa Ierlan, Clarendon Town Historian

The Cook family monument is prominent at Hillside Cemetery.

CLARENDON – Ida M. Brace Cook born March 30, 1910. The first time I saw this I was sad to think that a person had passed away and a date of death wasn’t on her headstone.

This was probably 2012 and little did I know that this woman was still alive. I discovered that she was living in New York City somewhere.  Several years went by and I thought of her every time I was in the cemetery. I learned a little more about her and her connection with a well known family from Clarendon.

I discovered that an old family photo album of the Cook family had been donated by her to our county historian who then donated it to the Clarendon Historical Society.

Fast forward to 2016, and I find myself in NYC visiting the Museum of Natural History. By this time I was able to locate and contact Mrs. Cook with the help of Bill Lattin and made arrangements to visit her. Mrs. Cook was 106 years old when I met her and lived in a nursing home in NYC.  She visited with me for an hour or so and told me the story of how she grew up in Albion and how she met Gordon Cook, a descendant of Lemuel Cook, the Revolutionary War soldier who lived in Clarendon.

She spoke of his family, especially his mother who made her way to the USA with an ox cart and her children by herself. Gordon was many years older than Ida when they married but they made a life and did quite well.

Mrs. Cook was very independent up until an accident in 2013 which left her in a wheelchair. She went from assisted living into a nursing home.  She had a very sharp mind and although she was almost deaf, she would respond to written questions and speak about anything you could ask.

Before I left the nursing home, she was giving me suggestions of places in NYC that I might go to eat. She even gave directions on how to get to several places. She was a very remarkable woman and I feel fortunate to have met her even for a short visit.

Mrs. Cook passed away last week on Aug. 22. She will be laid to rest on Wednesday, August 30, at 1 p.m. at Hillside Cemetery in Clarendon. There will be a graveside service.  The public is welcome to attend.

Mrs. Cook will be laid to rest at the family plot that includes her husband Gordon.

Return to top

Big crowd in Clarendon to hear from author trapped in Nazi Germany almost 80 years ago

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 17 August 2017 at 11:19 am

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Marlies Adams DiFante describes her harrowing experiences of being trapped in Nazi Germany as a young child.

CLARENDON – A talk by Rochester author and Naples native Marlies Adams DiFante drew a large crowd to the Clarendon Historical Society meeting Wednesday evening.

DiFante made those in the audience both laugh and cry as she discussed her book, Queen of the Bremen, an autobiographical account of her childhood experience of being trapped in Nazi Germany with her family during World War II.

In 1939 at age 5, Marlies traveled with her parents and brother to her parents’ native Germany. The family wanted to visit Marlies’ dying grandfather. Marlies’ mother was pregnant with her third child at the time and Hitler invaded Poland shortly after they arrived, closing German borders and ports. The Adams were not allowed to leave the country due to the fact Marlies’ mother was so close to her due date.

The family endured what Marlies describes as a seven-year “living hell” during the war, suffering starvation, homelessness, abuse, bombings and constant fear.

“I never intended to put it into a book,” Marlies said. She began taping her story only as a way to preserve her first-hand experiences for her grandchildren.

The Clarendon Historical Society Museum Barn meeting room was filled Wednesday evening for a presentation by local author Marlies Adams DiFante.

Marlies’ daughter-in-law transcribed the tapes, typing everything down for her Master’s thesis, but at the time, Marlies said she was not ready to share the story with anyone other than family. Eventually, her feelings changed and she decided to publish the book.

She described the horrors of the war, including severe food rationing, being bombed out of her home, and the British dropping of dolls and fountain pens embedded with explosives.

“Children were maimed and killed,” she said. “The German people had nothing but fear in them…. Hitler took everything, the German people had no control at all. I felt sorry for the German people, that they let that monster take over like he did.”

Marlies also detailed an especially harrowing year she spent with an aunt, who was a Nazi informant. She suffered horrific neglect, and turned to the animals on the farm for companionship. She became attached to one of the cows, in particular. “That cow was my best friend,”

Marlies said, and added that she believes the cow was really an angel whose comfort helped her survive the ordeal.

She also discussed the power of forgiveness and how their strong faith in God helped her family to cope and survive. “If you don’t believe God watches over you, He does,” Marlies said.

“I’m so proud that God let me be born in this country,” she said of her native United States.

Marlies Adams DiFante speaks with Clarendon residents following her talk.

Marlies mentioned the recent violence at protests in Charlottesville, VA. “When I see the swastika… it’s a good thing I am not in that town,”  she said, and called the swastika a symbol of evil. “It’s the worst symbol that ever came out …… (the Nazis) destroyed everything…. we can’t let that ever happen again.”

Marlies’ son, Tom DiFante, who serves as Clarendon town justice, attended the presentation with his family.

“She does a fantastic job,” he said of his mother. He noted the book, “has given her a new purpose. It makes me proud and I appreciate what she’s endured.”

Tom’s wife, Amy, agreed. She said it is remarkable that the Adams family was able to survive their ordeal and move on with their lives.

“They stepped beyond it. I’m amazed at how strong she is,” Amy said, and noted Marlies’ story is inspiring. “She shows that it doesn’t matter how hard it gets, there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Tom and Amy’s daughter, Marlayna, and son, Mitchell, also attended the presentation. Mitchell, 13, enthusiastically promoted his grandmother’s book. He said his grandmother has taught him much.

“It’s hard to explain how much she’s gone through,” Mitchell said. “She’s spectacular. I thank God for all the blessings we’ve had and she’s had.”

He said his grandmother’s experiences make him more appreciative of what he has.

“It makes me realize how much I take for granted and that I might need to re-focus.”

Return to top