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Dutchess Legend Charles Edward Conklin, 91, Businessman, Benefactor

Charles Edward Conklin
Charles Edward Conklin Photo Credit: Provided

Charles “Charlie” Edward Conklin, 91, of Pleasant Valley and Vero Beach, Fla., died Tuesday, Jan. 30 of natural causes at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.

He was a successful businessman and major benefactor to local colleges, hospitals and other institutions.

Mr. Conklin was born on Feb. 21, 1926, in Poughkeepsie to the late Preston Marshall and Agnes Curley Conklin.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro issued a statement that read: “I am grateful, honored and humbled to have worked with him."

"Dutchess County lost a great man of our time. Charles Conklin was a benevolent titan of business, education, and community," Molinaro added. " His Innovation, kindness, and generosity will be felt for generations to come. Our deepest sympathy and our prayers are with his family.”

Mr. Conklin graduated from Poughkeepsie High School in 1944.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army and joined the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment and earned a Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge while serving in the Philippines Liberation Campaign.

He returned home and married Mabel “Betty” Gallagher on July 27, 1946, in Atlantic City, N.J.

In 1957, he formed Conklin Corp. and eventually employed over 200 people at locations in Pleasant Valley and Norcross, Ga.

Conklin Corp. won several awards for product excellence. The company was sold in 2000.

A true champion for the community, Mr. Conklin and his wife gave generously to local organizations committed to improving people’s quality of life. Vassar Brothers Medical Center was one of those organizations.

The Conklins’ extraordinary commitment to the Medical Center is seen in their gifts supporting the construction of the new wing to house maternity and cardiac surgery; the installation of new treatment technology in the Dyson Center for Cancer Care, and the multiple construction and renovation projects designed to expand and enhance the Medical Center’s emergency department, which bears the name, “The Charles E. And Mabel E. Conklin Center for Emergency Care."

Dutchess Community College was also a recipient of the Conklin's generosity. His remarkable legacy includes the Charles E. and Mabel E. Conklin full tuition DCC scholarship established with his beloved wife, which has provided two-year, full-tuition scholarships to nearly 500 Dutchess Community College students in the past 15 years.

During the college’s 2016 graduation ceremony, Mr. Conklin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the State University of New York.

The Conklins endowed Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel at Marist College and were proud to support the Jaws of Life program for the Pleasant Valley Fire Department.

In addition to his family, one of Mr. Conklin’s enduring passions was aviation, and he was an accomplished pilot.

Mr. Conklin is survived by his children, David Conklin of Millbrook, Jeffrey Conklin of Massachusetts and Miami Beach, Fla., and his daughter and son-in-law, Ellen Conklin and Keith Kodat of Truro, Mass.

He also is survived by his grandchildren, Michael, Kyle, Maverick, Paige, Charlotte and Teddy, and his brother-in-law Charles Gallagher and his wife, Marilyn Gallagher.

Calling hours are on Thursday, Feb. 1 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Parmele, Auchmoody & Schoonmaker Funeral Home, 110 Fulton Ave. in Poughkeepsie.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be on Friday, Feb. 2 at 11 a.m. at St. Stanislaus Church in Pleasant Valley. Burial will follow in St. Peter’s Cemetery.

Donations can be made to the Conklin Scholarship at Dutchess Community College Foundation, 53 Pendell Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 or Vassar Brothers Medical Center Foundation, 45 Reade Place, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601.

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