Attorney at large: James Dwyer retires after 44 years on the job

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.

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