Sep 16, 2010 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
James Dwyer came on as Marcellus village attorney in 1966. His reasons for pursuing the job were simple.
“It was a piece of business and it was an opportunity to serve the community, and that’s what interested me,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer retired from his post this August after 44 years. Few could have expected him to serve as long as he did, but commitment is simply in his nature.
Upon graduation from St. Bonaventure University, Dwyer went to Navy Officer School in Newport. He was commissioned in the spring and stayed on for 20 years, retiring as a full captain. He married his wife, Ellen O’Shea, in 1961 within a year of their first date, and they’ve been together ever since.
Even over the course of 44 years, some things in village government never changed — for instance, the meeting being held on the fourth Monday of the month. But the mayors came and went, which meant the running time of the meetings fluctuated. Lester Norris was the mayor to hire Dwyer in 1966.
“He was a very entertaining storyteller,” Dwyer said. “Unfortunately the meetings sometimes would go on until 11 O’Clock as a result.”
Norris was one for telling jokes as well.
“When he interviewed me he would, as many people do, kid a lawyer about being a lawyer,” Dwyer said. “So I replied you know, people can go through their entire lives without seeing a lawyer, but when they die they’ve got to go to a funeral director. Of course Lester was one of the two funeral directors in town.”
As village attorney Dwyer had a hand in many important events in Marcellus history. Early in his career he rewrote the village’s zoning ordinance, which until just recently, for the most part, hadn’t been touched. He also handled the transformation of the old Upper Crown Mill building into the condominium complex it is today, which includes the Marcellus Free Library.
Assessing the Lower Crown Mill
The village of Marcellus recently ordered the demolition of the Lower Crown Mill’s North and West Wing to commence by Sept. 24. Dwyer is all too familiar with the mill’s history from what took place in the 1980s.
“[Mayor] Fred Eisenberg had gone out and lined up all this grant money to do the demolition and do the environmental studies and to proceed with the construction of a 72-bed assisted living facility,” Dwyer said. Eisenberg planned on purchasing the lower mill from its owner, Mitch Amadon. “At the last moment, William Lucchetti came in and bought the same deal, as far as we know.”
A nod to the mayor
Dwyer knows a lot about Marcellus, but he won’t claim to be the expert. He’d rather leave that title to the current mayor, John Curtin.
“There was no one around that knew the village better, or knows the village better, than John Curtin,” he said. If you ask Dwyer, 49 years of living in Marcellus isn’t nearly as important as that one defining trait.
“He’s a native, and that makes all the difference,” Dwyer said.
Celebrating Dwyer’s run
To honor James Dwyer for his 44 years of service, the village of Marcellus is hosting a retirement reception from 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Steadman House, 18 North St. The public is invited to attend and tickets are $10 per person. R.S.V.P. to Dawn O’Hara, 673-3112, or Maureen Curtin, 673-3660.