Clarence Rycraft was one of the good guys.
“If our representatives in Washington were more like Clarence, there would be less gridlock,” former Clay Town Supervisor Mark Rupprecht said. “Clarence would argue his points effectively and passionately but no matter how the vote turned out or whether he prevailed or not, after the meetings he was as friendly and cordial to his colleagues as possible.”
Rycraft, known to colleagues and friends as “Rye,” passed away Saturday, March 9. He was 85.
A World War II veteran, Rycraft was a member of the Clay Town Board from 1992 to 2011. Prior to joining the town board, he served on the town’s planning board from 1987 to 1991. The town recognized him in 2011 with a resolution commending him for 25 years of service to Clay.
In addition to the town, Rycraft served the community in a number of other capacities. He was a member of the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, the Onondaga County Infrastructure Committee, the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council, the Liverpool Optimist Club and the Service Corps of Retire Executives. He was recognized as the Bayberry Community Association Citizen of the Year in 1997. He was also a member of the American Legion, Telephone Pioneers of America and the Liverpool Elks.
In his professional life, Rycraft worked for New York Telephone/NYNEX as an audit manager. He taught accounting and business courses at Onondaga Community College as an adjunct until about 15 years ago.
Rye earned his bachelor’s degree in business-economics from Syracuse University in 1959, as well as a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University in 1964. A lifelong advocate of education, Rycraft also earned an associate’s degree in applied sciences from Alfred University and an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Onondaga Community College.
Rycraft leaves behind his wife, Catherine, four children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, as well as a brother and a sister.
He also leaves behind a town he helped to shape.
“Rye backed up his positions with documented research,” said former Supervisor James Rowley. “His preparation had a meticulous quality to it. I had great respect for Rye. The town will miss him.”
Rycraft’s family has organized two public memorial services for the longtime politician. There will be a reception starting at 5 p.m. Friday, March 22, at Meghan MacMurphy’s, 7990 Oswego Road, Liverpool, as well as a memorial service at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 23, at Christ the King Roman Catholic Church, 21 Cherry Tree Circle, Liverpool.
The family has asked that contributions in lieu of flowers be made to the National Kidney Foundation or the American Diabetes Foundation.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.