The town of Clay lost one of its most active citizens last week.
Ernie Casale, who served the town in a number of positions over the last four decades, passed away Tuesday June 3 at his home. Casale, 81, was predeceased by his wife, Virginia; he is survived by two sons, Salvatore (Theresa) Casale of Liverpool and Mark (Diane) Casale of Baldwinsville, and a daughter, Lucia Casale (Robert Klimek) of Washington, D.C.
"He was like the Abraham Lincoln of the town of Clay," said Trish DiDomenico, widow of former supervisor Pat DiDomenico. "He did so much for this town."
A veteran of the Second World War, Casale began his career in Clay politics as a deputy town clerk from February of 1963 until 1967. In January of 1968, he joined the town board as a councilman, where he served one two-year term before leaving to act as the town assessor. In 1975, he took over the supervisor's office, serving in that position until the end of 1982. In 1983 he headed up the Zoning Board of Appeals, then reclaimed the assessor's office from December of 1983 to July of 1992.
Though his career as an elected official ended there, Casale remained active in politics, participating in the Clay Republican Committee. He also owned Suburban Hardware on Route 57 and Megan McMurphy's next door, where the Republican Committee holds its regular meetings.
At its last meeting, the committee took the time to remember the man that had helped shape the town in which they live and serve.
"I'll be talking about Ernie Casale for the rest of my life," said Naomi Bray, head of the committee and a councilor on the town board. "He was a great Clay citizen. We all have so many wonderful memories of this man."
Casale was recalled as a "great leader, a great listener and a great man" by board member Robert Edick, and many others echoed his comments.