Priscilla VanValkenburg


Priscilla Harriet Axtell VanValkenburg, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and aunt, passed away May 20, 2023 at the age of 98.

Priscilla was born Dec. 5, 1924 in Deposit to Clayton Morgan Axtell, M.D. and Olive Vosburgh Axtell. She graduated from Deposit High School in 1942 and was valedictorian of her class. She earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Cornell University in 1946. After graduation, she worked in research as part of the Manhattan Project for the Atomic Energy Commission at the University of Rochester.  

On June 11, 1949 at the Deposit Baptist Church, she married the long-time love of her life, classmate Elwin Eugene VanValkenburg of Stilesville. They moved to Albany where she was employed as a junior bacteriologist at the New York State Laboratories, while he attended Albany College of Pharmacy. Next, they moved to Oneonta and Hamilton, and, in 1955, to Sidney, when Elwin became the owner of Fairbanks Pharmacy. Over the next 68 years, while living in Sidney and raising a family, Priscilla fulfilled a lifetime of service to family members, her church, and to her country.  

Priscilla was a faithful member and devoted church worker of the First Congregational Church. When the church closed in 2020, she joined the Sidney United Methodist Church. She was a member of the Monday Club, University Club, The Hospital Guild, and Regent of the Sidney Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. She also volunteered at the Sidney hospital coffee shop and for the American Red Cross. 

Priscilla was a quiet, reserved person, possessing an amazing memory and a dry sense of humor, all of which she maintained until the end. Priscilla strove for perfection in all she did. 

For family and friends, she shared her love of music, cooking, needlework and gardening. Priscilla played both the piano and organ and had a beautiful singing voice. She was a wonderful cook, spending countless hours in the kitchen. She loved to knit, do needlepoint, and sew. Her gardens still bloom with her flowers. 

Survivors include her husband Elwin VanValkenburg, daughters Ann Hammer (Richard Sr.), Speedway, Ind., and Pamela Lindberg (Dr. Robert), Darien, Conn., and son David VanValkenburg (girlfriend Cathy Vigneri), Sidney; grandchildren and great-grandchildren include Richard Hammer Jr. (Katie, children Callie and Hudson); Juliana Hammer Piercefield (Michael, children William, Ethan, Miles); Kate Lindberg (Josh Bickley, children June, Willa); Emily Lindberg (Christine Wu); and numerous nieces and nephews.  

Treasured “daughters” include former Rotary Exchange students Naiome Stubbing Jones of New Zealand and Dr. Florence Atienza Sy of the Philippines.  

She was predeceased by her parents and siblings Clayton Axtell Jr., Ruth Axtell, Elizabeth Ella Axtell Stearns and Delos Axtell.  

The family wishes to thank the aides of Around the Clock and the staff of Helios Care for the loving attention they provided Priscilla for the last three years.  

Donations in Priscilla’s memory may be made to the Deposit Historical Society, 145 Second Street, Deposit, NY 13754 or the Sidney United Methodist Church, 12 Liberty Street, Sidney, NY 13838.

Calling hours will be 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30 at C.H. Landers Funeral Chapel, 21 Main Street, Sidney.

Funeral services will be held at the Sidney United Methodist Church, 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 31. 

Following a luncheon in the church hall, burial will be in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Deposit. 

Condolences and memories may be shared online at

Arrangements are under the direction of C.H. Landers Funeral Chapel, Sidney.