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Caroline Champlin Chamberlain

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Caroline Champlin Chamberlain 1915-2009 BENNINGTON Caroline Champlin Chamberlain, of Bennington, a former resident of Rochester, N.Y., died on October 6, 2009, after a long and courageous battle with the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. Throughout, she remained the kind, sweet lady that she had been her entire life. Born on July 15, 1915, in Bath, N.Y., Caroline grew up on the shores of Keuka Lake in the New York Finger Lakes Village of Hammondsport. Her father, Charles Champlin, was the fourth consecutive generation of Champlins to own and operate The Pleasant Valley Wine Company whose familiar trademark was Great Western. She grew up during local resident Glenn Curtiss's run as the Father of U.S. Naval Aviation, with the country's best young pilots coming to Hammondsport to learn to fly. The New York wine business was booming, and Keuka Lake was a hub of social activity with Big Bands, and weekly sailboat races. Steamers still plied the Lake waters from Hammondsport to Penn Yan, dropping weekenders and "Summer People" off at various hotels along the shoreline. Caroline graduated from Wells College in 1937 with a degree in what would now be called Foreign Languages. She at one time could read or speak six foreign languages: Portuguese (she spent the first four years of her life in Sao Paulo, Brazil), Latin, French, Italian, German and Spanish. After graduation, she earned a Business Degree at Rochester Business Institute before moving almost irresistibly back to a management position with her Dad at the winery. Being a social industry, Caroline also enlisted as co-hostess with her mother, Jessie, of innumerable dinner parties for guests that ranged from Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to members of the New York Yankees (including Lefty Gomez and Joe DiMaggio), various senators and congressmen, and other winery owners, such as California's Louis Martini. The "Farmhouse" as her childhood home was known, was always bustling with energy, laughter, good food, champagne, and an eclectic group of relatives and family friends. Caroline and Phil Chamberlain, a young lawyer from Rochester, N.Y., were married in Hammondsport on April 18, 1942. With the arrival of son, Chip, in 1943 and daughter Margie, in 1947, she became a loyal and dedicated member of the most honored of professions: full-time Mom. Her children and husband always came first. She was a radiant beauty in every way; always there with a kind word and gentle smile that her family and friends grew to love so much. Throughout her life, she served as a volunteer and supporter of a variety of community projects and organizations. Caroline is survived by her two children, Charles Champlin Chamberlain, and his wife, Kit, of Manchester, Vermont, and Marjorie Chamberlain, and her partner Sandy, of Williamstown, Massachusetts; three grandchildren, Paige deSantis, Geoff Chamberlain and Blair Brownlee; six great grandchildren, Willie Palmer, Sydney deSantis, Duncan Chamberlain, Cooper deSantis, Max Brownlee, and Katie Brownlee; cousins, Charles Champlin, Trafford Doherty, and Anne Doherty; and devoted family friend Mardo Doherty. Her husband, Phil; cousins Tony, Dwayne and Pete Doherty, Father Joseph Champlin, and Jack Horne predeceased her. A private memorial service for family members will be held in Hammondsport, New York, at a time yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Caroline's memory can be sent to The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, 8419 State Route 54, Hammondsport, NY 14840, or the Hammondsport Public Library, 21 Williams Street, Hammondsport, NY 14840. To send personal e-mail condolences to the family, please visit www.sheafuneralhomes.com
Published in Bennington Banner on Oct. 7, 2009
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