Landscapes 17

Marian Louise (Willard) Besch

August 26, 1929 ~ December 27, 2023 (age 94) 94 Years Old

Marian Louise Besch Obituary

A service in celebration of the life of Marian Louise Frost Willard Besch on January 11, 2024.

Marian Louise Willard Besch passed away peacefully on December 27, 2023, in Albany, New York.  Born in New Jersey, Louise's 94 years were a tapestry of dedication to her family, community, and countless personal passions. 

A graduate of St Agnes School, Queen's University in Ontario, and Colorado State University, where she studied Occupational Therapy, Louise's professional life was marked by a tireless commitment to helping others, particularly the less fortunate. Her work with the Albany Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, the Visiting Nurses Association, and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) reflected this enduring commitment to helping people pursue their passions and maximize their potential.  She was inventive as well, filing two patents; one for a boat launching mechanism, and the second, a line of stylish bibs for seniors called “Dining with Dignity.”  

Louise's zest for life was evident in her diverse interests and activities. She sang in the choir of her home church, Westminster Presbyterian, where she met her husband.  She was an accomplished water and snow skier, a golfer, and an avid equestrian, where she was deeply involved in thoroughbred and quarter horse breeding and training. An enthusiastic traveler, she toured or visited friends and relatives in Europe, Russia, Israel, Egypt, Jordan,  Morocco, and Japan. Her leadership abilities shone through her presidency of the Rensselaer County Sheep Breeders' and Wool Growers' Association and as long-time secretary of the Best Luther Fire Company.  

She eagerly shared her talents as an artisan and farmer through her many volunteer activities such as rescuing bee swarms through the Cooperative Extension, harvesting their honey, and dipping candles from their wax.  She raised lambs, sheared her sheep, then carted, spun, dyed, and knitted their wool into sweaters and hats.  At the YMCA, she ran the senior activities program, taught chair caning, and organized bridge and pinochle competitions.  Her enthusiasm for animal husbandry and traditional crafts were passed on to the next generations through her volunteering as class mom, Cub Scouts Den Mother, 4H Volunteer, and by organizing youth regattas with swimming, boating, and sailing competitions near Frost Point, her family’s cottage at the Rideau Ferry, Ontario. 

Louise extended her nurturing to many young visitors to Roundhill, the family farm in West Sand Lake.  She hosted exchange students from Uruguay, Brazil, South Africa, England, Spain, Germany, and Japan.  Enthusiastic, patient, and generous, she would welcome it when her boys would volunteer her to host church youth group pond skating and tobogganing parties, or when they would show up unannounced with a dozen college classmates in tow.  

Louise was the beloved matriarch of the Besch Family, predeceased by her parents, Russell and Marian Willard, sisters Elizabeth Hannock and Evelyn Jordan, and her husband, Clayton L. Besch Jr.  She was the proud mother of Clayton L. Besch III (Wendy), Thomas Murray Besch (Joan), Eric Cramer Besch, and Frederic Joseph Besch (Kath). Her love and guidance extended to her grandchildren Clayton IV, Avery, Robert, Will, Benjamin, Samuel, Erin, Logan, Lauren, and Duncan, who will carry forward her spirit of adventure, creativity, and generosity.

In her passing, Louise leaves behind a legacy of love, kindness, and the courage to embrace life's adventures.  Filled with a genuine interest in others, she presumed the best intentions of everyone she met and was rarely disappointed.  As her family and friends reflect on her extraordinary life, they will remember a woman whose strength and creativity knew no bounds. Her encouragement was a beacon of light and an example of how to live life fully, with open arms and an open heart.

A celebration of her life will be held Thursday, January 11, 2024 from 4 until 6PM at the DeGraaf-Bryce Funeral Home, Inc.  4392NY150, West Sand Lake, and a short service at 6PM.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to Sand Lake Ambulance, Inc. P.O Box 222, West Sand Lake, NY 12196.

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January 11, 2024

4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
DeGraaf-Bryce Funeral Home, Inc.
4392 Route 150
West Sand Lake, NY 12196

Funeral Service
January 11, 2024

6:00 PM
DeGraaf-Bryce Funeral Home, Inc.
4392 Route 150
West Sand Lake, NY 12196


Sand Lake Ambulance
PO Box 222, West Sand Lake NY 12196


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