Decatur Rabiet

Obituary of Decatur Rabiet

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Decatur Rabiet died on February 27, 2024 from natural causes. He was 83 years old. Decatur Butterworth Penney, known as Sonny to family and friends, was born on April 14, 1940 in Walden, New York to Decatur Butterworth Penney (1896-1987) and Adelaide Palen (1905-1940). Adelaide died 18 days after Sonny was born. He was adopted the following year by Mary Cornelia Penney (1900-1977), sister of Decatur Penney Sr., and William J. Rabiet (1901-1983) who gave Sonny his family name. Sonny took care of his beloved horse Pal, helped grow fruits and vegetables, and raise chickens on Bill and Mary’s farm west of Walden near Allard’s Corners. He worked in his father’s service station and earned 5 cents per game as a pin boy at the bowling alley then located just west of Allard’s Corners. Sonny learned to drive on a tractor and practiced driving his first car, a 1937 Hupmobile, in a corn field. Sonny studied tap dance at the Nicholson School of Dance in Newburgh and taught at their studio in Middletown. During his teen years he performed onstage at the Didsbury Theater in Walden and high school auditoriums throughout the area. In 1952 when he was 12 years old Sonny won a preliminary audition in Ellenville to appear on Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour and competed in the final competition in Kingston, finishing in third place. Sonny played piano in New York City venues including Cafe Carlyle and once accompanied Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates on piano at the Peg Leg Bates Country Club in Kerhonkson, New York. He continued to perform throughout the tri-state area into the 1960’s. Sonny graduated from Walden High School 1958, the same month the Valley Central School District was created. Sonny worked as a typist at Wallkill Prison and while earning an Associates Degree from Orange County Community College. After graduating in 1962 Sonny went to work in the Personnel and Labor Relations Department at the Ford Motor Company assembly plant in Mahwah, New Jersey. In 1968 he was appointed Director of Personnel and later promoted to Vice President of Personnel for Lloyd’s Shopping Centers, Inc. He was responsible for hiring thousands of people for the Newburgh, Middletown and Warwick stores and Lloyd’s gas stations until 1994. Sonny then worked for First Student as a bus driver, safety monitor, administrator and Teamsters union negotiator transporting two generations of Valley Central school kids until he retired in 2019 at the age of 79. Sonny married Dorothy Jean Prendergast of Middletown, New York in 1961 at the Walden United Methodist Church. Dorothy, known as Dot or Dotty, and Sonny first lived in Goshen then built a house on his family’s property where they raised three children and lived ever since. Sonny enjoyed family camping trips, decorating the Christmas tree, mowing the lawn, and visiting flea markets and yard sales. Sonny was an enthusiastic collector of stamps, coins, political memorabilia, postcards, elephants, bottles, canning jars, tools, and books. Sonny served as a trustee and member of Colonel Bradley Hose, Number 2, and was a member of the Wallkill Lodge No. 627, Free & Accepted Masons. He is survived by his, daughter Linda Rabiet, son Michael Rabiet, son Scott Rabiet and daughter-in-law Leora Schiff, sister Elaine Hopper, brother Gilbert Penney, brothers Kenneth R. Penney, David E. Penney, George D. Penney, and sisters Georgianna L. Knight, Deborah A. Robb and Karen O. Weddle. He is predeceased by his wife Dorothy who died on October 2nd, 2023. Predeceased brothers and sisters include Marvin R. Penney (1924-1944), Stanley Penney (1926-2012), Jeanette Greising (1928-2020), Ferne Penney (1933-1952), Marion Terwilliger (1939-1921), Robert H. Penney (1941-1985), Dennis A. Penney (1945-1998), and Barbara J. Alexander (1948-2017). Decatur will be buried at a private service at Wallkill Cemetery in Middletown, New York. Donations in his memory can be made to Town of Montgomery Ambulance.
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Decatur Rabiet

In Loving Memory

Decatur Rabiet

1940 - 2024

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