2011-02-17 / Obituaries

Ethel Forkell Dies at Age 93

Eric Gross


Ethel Forkell with two former supervisors of Kent who have also passed on—Joe Belvedere (left) and Anthony Cazzari—at a gathering in Lake Carmel in the early 1980s. 
Eric Gross Ethel Forkell with two former supervisors of Kent who have also passed on—Joe Belvedere (left) and Anthony Cazzari—at a gathering in Lake Carmel in the early 1980s. Eric Gross Ethel Forkell is being remembered this week as a Putnam County official who made state history when she was elected chairman of the former Board of Supervisors in 1977—the first woman in New York to achieve such recognition. Forkell passed away Feb. 8 at the age of 93.

Forkell married the love of her life, John, who died suddenly in January 1955. Shortly after her husband’s death, the Kent Town Board appointed her to serve the unexpired term of her husband’s town clerk assignment. Forkell then ran for the post and won election after election by wide margins, serving residents of Lake Carmel and Kent for 20 years.

Putnam Legislator and Kent Historian Richard Othmer remembered how Forkell conducted the duties of her office with “unparalleled dignity, courtesy, and dedication to duty. She earned the respect and support of all political parties.”

In 1975, Forkell ran successfully for supervisor, becoming Kent’s first female chief executive.

Forkell was also involved in the community, co-founding Parents Without Partners in the late 1960s and serving with the American Legion, Lake Carmel FD Ladies Auxiliary, and St. James Church.

In recent years, Forkell was a parishioner at St. Matthew’s Church in Lake Worth, FL, which she called home.

Forkell is survived by her daughters Stephanie Creedon, Kathleen Masek, Mary Forkell, and Dorothea Mazzocco, as well as her son John. Seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren also survive.

Forkell had an unusual speaking pattern that caused some embarrassment but much laughter years ago. Forkell often started a sentence with the phrase: “This here…” and often mispronounced the county which she represented on the Board of Supervisors calling Putnam County “Put-man” County.

Shortly after taking office as chair, Forkell ordered official Putnam pencils. When the writing instruments arrived the imprint read “Property of PUT-MAN County.” Several of those pencils exist to this day.

Funeral services were held last Saturday at Our Lady of the Lakes Church in Lake Carmel. Interment followed at St. Lawrence O’Toole Cemetery in Brewster.

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