The Obit For Dutch Wisseman

Ex-Union Vale supervisor Donald Wisseman, 90, dies

Emily Stewart
Poughkeepsie Journal
November 5, 2010

Donald "Dutch" Wisseman, the longest-serving Town of Union Vale supervisor, was a man known for his dedication to the community and his love of baseball.

Wisseman, who was born in New York City on March 16, 1920, died Monday at age 90, said his family. A funeral is scheduled for this morning.

His work as town supervisor, which totaled 22 years, can been seen today in Tymor Park, the town hall and the recycling center.

Wisseman worked with Ralph and Jean Conner, who gave the 500-acre property now known as Tymor Park to the town. He also facilitated the building of the current town hall in the park and was instrumental in establishing the town's recycling center, the first of its kind in the county, said Town Clerk Mary Lou DeForest.

DeForest said she began working with Wisseman in 1986 when he was highway superintendent.

"He was excellent in managing finances and being able to look ahead and see what the town would require in the future," said town Supervisor Lisette Hitsman. "He was a never ending source of information and support … for the town and specifically for the town supervisor."

Wisseman was elected as a Union Vale town councilman in 1955, a post he held for 11 years. He served as town supervisor from 1966 to 1981 and 1988 to 1995 and was town highway superintendent from 1982 to 1988.

In his early 20s, Wisseman pitched for a Pittsburgh Pirates farm team. But his professional baseball career was cut short when his older brother left for World War II, and he returned home to work the family dairy farm, Wisseman remained active in the local sports community.

"He never regretted any of that, he was always good at adapting to things," said his daughter Mary Duval, 47, of LaGrangeville.

Weissman owned the Wisseman Brothers Dairy Farm in Union Vale with his brothers until its sale in 1979.

Bipartisan praise
Thomas Odak Sr., 90, a Town of Milan resident, served with Wisseman on the Dutchess County Board of Supervisors, the predecessor to the county Legislature.

"He was a Republican at that time, and I was a Democrat. We were on opposite sides, but we got along 100 percent," said Odak, who represented the Town of Milan.

"It didn't matter Democrat or Republican," Odak said. "It was a great time to be working as a town representative. There was very little bickering.

"He was a good dairy farmer also," said Odak. "He was one of the fellows I can say, 'I'm glad I knew him.' "

Hank Adams was a friend and neighbor of Wisseman for 29 years.

"He was a super guy. He was a real gentleman," said Adams. "He lived two houses down, right on Walsh Road."

Baseball career
Wisseman's nickname, Dutch, is believed to come from his early baseball years when he was called "The Dutchman" by opponents and in the local press.

Very strong because of his work on the farm, he was an exceptionally fast left-handed pitcher and a solid hitter.

After playing for the Pirates, he played in the Poughkeepsie Twilight League with such players as Wes Westrum, who went on to catch for the New York Giants and then manage the New York Mets; Chuck Connors of "The Rifleman" TV show fame; and Billy "The Kid" Ostrom, considered by many the best local hitter ever.

"Dutch was a very good pitcher, good curve and fastball," said Ostrom, now 90. "He was also good with the bat."

Ostrom also faced Wisseman from the late 1940s through the 1950s in the Interstate Baseball League, which featured teams from New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Wisseman pitched for and managed the Millbrook team.

Ostrom was a standout for Amenia.

"He never gave me much trouble at the plate," Ostrom joked. "He'll be missed."

Wisseman and Ostrom are members of the Dutchess County Old Timers Baseball Association Hall of Fame.

A funeral will be held today at the Trinity United Methodist Church on Cross Road in LaGrangeville at 10 a.m. Arrangements are being handled by the Timothy P. Doyle Funeral Home.