Robert LaClair, Sr.

Obituary of Robert Allen LaClair, Sr.

Robert A. LaClair, Sr, age 84, Morristown, NY Robert A. LaClair, Sr., Chapman Point, Morristown passed away Tuesday, April 26, 2022 suddenly, but peacefully, at his home while enjoying his morning coffee with his loving wife Ginny. As it appeared that Bob had so much more living to do and due to the sudden nature of events, a private funeral service for Bob will be held in honor of his life at a time undetermined as of yet. Arrangements are under the direction of Frary Funeral Home, Ogdensburg. Bob is survived by wife, Virginia. A daughter Debra Brisebois (Jeff) of Heuvelton, three sons, Robert LaClair, Jr. of Hermon, Michael LaClair (Bethany) of Morristown and Scott LaClair (Kimberly) of Watertown, a sister, Suzanne Hoover of Gouverneur, ten grandchildren, 14.5 great grandchildren and countless other people that looked to him for guidance and affectionately called him Pop. Born May 18, 1937 the son of the late Allen H. and Doris Etta Wheeler LaClair, an adventurous and spirited kid, he became a great high school athlete graduating from Canton High school in 1955 and then attended Canton Technical College where he played three college sports and graduated with a technical degree in 1957. In April of the same year, Bob married his childhood best pal and high school sweetheart, the prettiest girl in Canton, Virginia Barnhart at the First Baptist Church in Canton, NY. Upon graduation, Bob took his first job at Ingersoll Rand in Corning, NY, where they soon started their family and Deb was born. Soon his career took them to Albany, where sons Bob and Mike were born, however, his entire life, no matter where he woke up that morning, Northern New York was his home and the comfort of its’ community and love of family drew them home the very first chance they got. In 1962, he started working at ACCO in Ogdensburg, NY as a draftsman. An unworldly drive, unrelenting commitment and intense work ethic found him climbing the ranks to become a foreman. Eventually he was named the facilities manager, and ultimately the Vice President of Operations of both ACCO Ogdensburg and a second factory in Nogales, Mexico. During his tenure, he partnered with all the hardworking north country ACCO employees to make the Ogdensburg location one of the international company’s most successful operations. He loved his plant, its’ people, and was well known for his commitment to the often quarterly fight with headquarters ensuring operations and all jobs remained in Ogdensburg, NY. He was a well respected, well loved Manager and he was prideful of the lifelong relationships he made on the manufacturing floor. Well decorated and admired, at age 57 he retired from ACCO in 1995. He then spent a remarkable one third of his life pursuing his faith, guiding and managing his growing legacy, and tending to the whimsical desires of Ginny. Bob was often found cheering on the sidelines at sporting events, sharing his time and staying active in the lives of his children, their children and their children’s children. All of his career successes were rooted in an indelible blue collar work ethic and an imaginative and creative problem solving mind. This made him an acute businessman that throughout his life was not wasted on self alone. Active civically, he coached the Peretta Packers, was a president of Kiwanis, sat on many boards including his alma mater’s foundation, Morristown Central School, A. Barton Hepburn Hospital, the Salvation Army and United Way. He was a Mason and an active member of the First Congregational Church of Ogdensburg. He was an insightful community leader often sought after to help others in so many dynamic ways. But in his heart, Bob was a true north country boy. He loved its’ landscapes, abundance, but mostly its’ people. He basked in the camaraderie as he fished its’ streams, rivers and lakes and he hunted the woods of his childhood as a lifetime member of Rainbow Rod and Gun Club for amongst 7 decades. He considered those hunting grounds sacred, and the generations of sportsman that joined him there were treated like family. They were his father’s trails long before his, the acres at Rainbow were like his kin, he cared for the club as a trustee, a president, and was in constant consult for its’ continuance everyday of his life. He loved that his three boys have been members from the moment they were eligible, and just this last fall was amused by one of the newest LaClairs of Rainbow, River LaClair as he toddled around the camp. Pop got his first buck and every buck that ever mattered to him in those woods. He enjoyed filling a creel with native brook trout and sitting on a stump on the knob. He loved it all, a black fly bite and a warm beer on a hot day after cutting wood, a losing game of skitso or even a luke warm bowl of soup at the blue chair, he just loved it all. His dad, Alvie, knew those woods, and he taught them to Bob, so it is only fitting that he be buried along side his dad, on the side of a hill, just a few miles down the road, looking directly in Rainbow Rod and Gun Clubs’ direction. His family eventually settled in Brier Hill, surprisingly adding a fourth kid, Scott. Family always close, they spent summers on Sylvia Lake, his family place tightly nestled between his parent’s and his sister’s cottages. In 1980 he and Ginny moved one last time to live out his life on the St. Lawrence River. He loved to play tennis, was terrible at golf, learned to ski around age 50 and spent time roaming the snowmobile trails. A simple read of a life like his could be generalized with an inaccurate assumption that a man who was born and died just a few miles apart may have lived a simple life. Bob and Ginny were well travelled, but at the end of the day, they lived in the north country because they loved it. By many measures, one could allege that he was bigger than this place, but the contentment, kindness and comfort that surrounded him on the rural roads of his birth place were enough for even his career aspirations. Bob was so many great things to so many people. He was a mentor, a critic, a cheerleader, and he held profound belief in himself and in others. Solutions to problems seemed effortless to him, and his engaging smile and fierce and caring eyes made him a “go to” in times of need for so many. But above all was his absolute, unconditional and unwavering love for his wife Ginny. He and Ginbabe celebrated 65 years of marriage only days before his passing. As they matured in their years, they looked after one another; he coddled her, opened the door for her and mused over her like a teenage crush. She saw everything good about herself in his eyes, and she cared so deeply for him that she without him is unrecognizable today. They shared such a marvelous and enduring love for one another that it filled the room and the hearts of everyone that knew them. Rarely did you see him without her, nor her without him. They loved inseparably, side by side, for so many years, that it is no exaggeration to consider them as one. To say he will be missed is cliche, of course he will be missed, there is a giant hole in the North Country collective consciousness and a massive hole in the hearts of so many that he loved. His family is thankful for the spark that became their lives, the transcending courage he instilled, and in his honor they invite you to linger a bit longer, be thankful for the love that abounds, and to see one another with kindness and hope that each precious morning renews.
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