Carolyn Babcock van Leer of Yellow Barn Road, Freeville, NY passed away in her home, surrounded by family in November of 2019 from cholangiocarcinoma. Due to the holidays and then the pandemic her funeral was postponed until July 10, 2021. Carolyn was born in Ithaca in November of 1937. She was raised on the former Babcock Poultry Farm which was founded by her father Monroe. Babcock Industries became internationally famous for producing the best egg laying chickens in the world. Carolyn had chores as a kid from sorting baby chicks to bailing hay.
Carolyn attended the Krums Corners one room school and sang in the junior choir at the Jacksonville Methodist Church. She attended Trumansburg Central School. She graduated from The Knox boarding school in Long Island, NY where she was president of the Horse-Riding Club. During her school years, she participated in sports, chorus, and musicals.
Horses were her passion. She rode her horse Big Jim on canned fox hunts with the Smithtown Hunt Club and was honored to ride in the Jr. Olympics. Her riding instructor, Harry de Leyer, was owner of the famous horse Snowman.
Carolyn was very active in 4-H for fourteen years sewing and taking Angus heifers to the fairs. She was grateful to Irma Carnes, her leader who taught her so much.
She was in the Class of 1959 at Cornell University. Among her favorite courses were ornithology and entomology. Her lifelong love of birds led her to be a longtime supporter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and a member of the Cayuga Bird Club.
She was married to Hans A. van Leer for twenty-five years. The family lived in Spain and Germany in the early ‘60s where Hans worked for Arbor Acres (part of Rockefeller’s IBEC) managing the building of poultry operations in five European countries while Carolyn assisted with all the paperwork and reports involved.
The family lived in Cheshire, Mass. from 1966–1972 where she was a Cub Scouts den mother and involved with the Adams Girl’s Club. Her mother-in-law, Mary C. van Leer, fostered her interest in gems and minerals. After moving back to Trumansburg, NY she was a program chairwoman of the Taughannock Garden Club and managed the Bluebird Trail. She also served as newsletter editor of the Cayuga Gem and Mineral Club.
Carolyn worked at Babcock Industries Farm 20 and later at their Agri-Bio vaccine making subsidiary in Jacksonville, NY. When Agri-Bio moved to Georgia she worked at Trumansburg Central School as the Payroll and Purchasing agent and later became the Treasurer of Lansing (NY) Central School District from which she retired in 2000.
In the mid ‘80’s her love for roller skating at Roller World in Lansing, NY fortuitously caused Carolyn to bump into Dan Seewald, who had worked at Babcock’s in the 60's. Dan became her loving, life partner of over 35 years and they spent the remainder of her years in Freeville, NY.
Carolyn’s love of dancing led her to be active in Jazzercise for twenty-three years. She was also an award-winning volunteer dog walker at the SPCA of Tompkins County for over seventeen years where she also helped train dogs to be polite pooches. She was very dedicated to this endeavor and chances are if you adopted a dog from the SPCA she had given your dog love and attention during its stay. She also volunteered at the Ulysses Historical Society.
Her greatest adventure was touring the wilds of the southern portion of Africa in 2000 highlighted by surviving being charged by an elephant.
Upon learning she had cancer in 2016 she focused on staying healthy and completing goals on her bucket list such as attending her grandchildren’s graduations, spending time at the family’s favorite vacation spot Plum Island, Mass., visiting her beloved brother Bruce Babcock and his wife Dottie in Naples, Florida, and visiting the Women’s Rights museum in Seneca Falls in honor of her famous great-grandmother and suffragette, Elnora Monroe Babcock.
She was predeceased by her parents Doris Hollister Babcock and Monroe Cappel Babcock of Ithaca, NY, her cousin Susan Favata (Sal), her ex-husband Hans A. van Leer of Trumansburg, NY, her former brother-in-law R. Karl van Leer, and her former sister-in-law Doreen Crissey.
She is survived by her partner Daniel K. Seewald, Sr. of Freeville, NY, her brother Bruce M. Babcock (Dottie) of Naples, FL, her “sister” from another mother, Maria Steve, her sisters-in-law Rachel van Leer and Katherine Crockett
Carolyn is also survived by her children James P. van Leer of Brooktondale, NY, Lynn L. Seasholtz (Barrie Glidden) of New Boston, NH, Hans Eric Van Leer (Rachel) of Skaneateles, NY, Lee Ann van Leer of Freeville, NY; grandchildren Dan Seasholtz, Mike Seasholtz, Megan Seasholtz, Nikolos van Leer, Jillian Van Leer and Skyler Van Leer; nephews John Babcock, Jim Babcock (Barb), Christopher van Leer (Karen) and Tim van Leer (Jodi); nieces Pat Smith and Sarah Adolph (Jon) of her cousins Chrissy Favata Ortiz (Junior) and Nicole Favata. She is survived by numerous grand nieces, grand nephews, and great-grand nieces and Sue Wertis who was like another daughter.
She is also survived by her extended Seewald family: Dan Seewald Jr. (Wendy), John Seewald (Karen), Madeline Reistroffer (Joey), Lisa Foster (Don), and Pat Seewald along with many step grandchildren and step great-grandchildren.
Carolyn was followed in death by her amazing dachshund Zoey.
Thanks to all that sent flowers and cards in Nov. 2019 and donated to her memorial Facebook fundraiser for SPCA of Tompkins County. Further memorial gifts can be made at her request to the East Lawn Cemetery Association, 934 Mitchell Street, Ithaca, NY 14850 or to SPCA of Tompkins County.
Services are being held at the Perkins Funeral Home in Dryden, NY on Saturday July 10, 2021. Masks required indoors for unvaccinated folks and social distancing appreciated. Visitation hours start at 10am and the service will be from 11 to 11:30am followed by a noon burial at East Lawn Cemetery, 934 Mitchell St., Ithaca, NY. The 11AM service will be webcast from the Perkins Funeral Home website.
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