By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE October 29, 2004 Jeffersonville has lost one of its icons.
Rita Faubel Yewchuck was the unofficial ambassador of the village.
Day in and day out, her friendly face greeted residents and visitors alike as she sat, perched on her scooter, in front of the pharmacy or Teds Restaurant.
Yewchucks excuse me, sir? was all it took to convince someone to pony up a donation for a veterans poppy or tickets to the latest Jeff Fire Department dinner.
And no one walked by Yewchuck twice without getting a copy of this years Jeff Journal, coupled with her recommendations for some great reads.
Tuesday, the mood in Jeffersonville was somber as word slowly spread that their mascot, Rita Yewchuck, had passed away Monday at age 82.
Its just such a shame, said Town of Callicoon Supervisor Gregg Semenetz, slowly drawing in his breath at the news of Yewchucks passing. She was a fixture on Main Street for all those years. . . . She was like the stalwart she sat in front of all the stores, sold tickets for the veterans, the fire department . . .
In recent months, village residents noticed Yewchucks customary selling spots were empty with her failing health, she gave up her home on Jeffs Main Street to move in with family in White Sulphur Springs just a few months ago. She handed over her job selling the tickets for fire department functions to the teens from The Secret Garden.
It was strange, it was quiet in some ways, said Darlene Fiorille, whose family owns both the Other Store and the Jeff Pharmacy, which Yewchuck frequented. It was like a fixture was missing.
Yewchuck was born and raised in the Jeffersonville community. The daughter of Lena and Louis Faubel, a town roadway bears her maiden name, and the old Faubel Schoolhouse is now a family residence. Her influence can be seen across the town from the omnipresent first aid squad thats come a long way from the days of its charter members (including Yewchuck) to the JEMS beautification group that Yewchuck helped along its way.
Remembering her this week, peoples sentiments were simple, but heartfelt.
She was such a nice lady, said longtime resident and Town Assessor Bonnie Hubert.
An honorary member of the fire department, Yewchuck was one of its fiercest champions the funds from her street sales kept the men in dress blues for parades and kept their trucks in perfect shape to fight fires.
And Yewchuck had her finger on the pulse of her community her column in the Democrat was sure to include birthdays, weddings, and the latest on the happenings in town. She led the summertime parades down Main Street and kept her ears perked to the sound of the sirens that sent the towns bravest pouring out of the firehouse across the street from her own home.
Yewchuck always had her nose for news she kept up with folks over the years, first from behind the counter at her ice cream shop right in the heart of the village, and years later from her scooter, the motorized vehicle with a little bell that kept her puttering around Jeffersonville.
I can never remember her not being there, Fiorille noted.
Now residents of Jeff are learning to live without their fixture from Yewchucks two children, five grandchildren and numerous other relatives to the people who she touched every day right on the streets where she lived.