It's time to celebrate an Adirondack original, a writer, historian and native daughter of Lake Placid - Marge Lamy.
Although Marge died on Nov. 22, 2013, at the age of 83, her graveside service and memorial celebration will be held this weekend.
Newcomers to the Tri-Lakes may not have heard of Marge, but those who grew up with her in Lake Placid, worked with her at the Lake Placid News, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Adirondack Park Agency, Adirondack Museum and in the Olympic bobsledding world can never forget her.
Marge Lamy in 1967
Born as Margaret Wilson on Dec. 16, 1929, in Lake Placid, she was a talented writer, and that was her lifelong passion. A salutatorian of the Lake Placid High School Class of 1947, she earned a bachelor's degree in 1951 from the University of Rochester. She caught the writing bug early, covering school activities in the 1940s, and she became editor of the college newspaper in her junior year.
"It's a terrible addiction, seeing your name in print," she wrote in a column about her years as editor of the Lake Placid News in the paper's centennial edition in 2005.
She also got involved in government in college, and during her senior year she was elected president of the Students' Association. Her first job after graduation was for the Americans for Democratic Action in New York City, where she met Jim Loeb, who bought the Adirondack Daily Enterprise with Roger Tubby in 1953. Loeb was the national secretary of the ADA until 1952, when he moved to Washington as an aide to Charles Murphy, counsel to President Harry Truman. Tubby was assistant press secretary and later press secretary for Truman.
"They wanted to open a Lake Placid office, and my advantage to them was that I knew the area," Marge wrote about Loeb and Tubby. "Besides, with no experience, they didn't have to pay me very much; my salary was $25 a week, about what most secretaries made. Somewhere along the way I switched to the advertising department and learned that part of the business."
When the Adirondack Publishing Company (Tubby and Loeb's company that published the Enterprise) bought the Lake Placid News from Grace Lattimer in 1960, Marge became the editor.
"My only instructions from the publishers were that the paper should give good coverage of local government affairs and the other major activities that affected the community," Marge said. "Oh yes, and I also had to sell and lay out the advertising."
Marge put her heart, soul and many talents to work at the Lake Placid News. She wrote copy, edited stories, laid out the paper and sold ads. Covering village, town, school and chamber of commerce meetings was a big part of her job.
"To say that for the most part these were not very exciting is the understatement of the week," Marge wrote. "By the time I left ... maybe still ... you would have to hold a gun to my head to make me attend almost any kind of meeting."
When it came time for Marge to leave the Lake Placid News in January 1967, readers poured in letters to the editor praising her work.
"Marge had a complete comprehension of the structure, both technically and politically, of local government and the forces around it," Raxie Dunn wrote in the Jan. 19, 1967, issue of the News. "She knew everyone in town. She understood the economic problems of this resort community ... and its needs ... and its possibilities."
A week earlier, Loeb wrote an editorial in the Lake Placid News praising Marge for her "years of dedication."
"Under her leadership, this paper increased its circulation substantially and became a more influential factor in the life of the community it's served," Loeb wrote.
It is leadership like Marge's that we must live up to in the 21st century. As we move forward with small-town journalism in the digital age, we should ask ourselves, "What would Marge do?" Her loyalty to her job and her hometown were unmatched, and we must strive to make her proud of how we cover the Olympic Region.
As readers were shocked by Marge's announcement that she was leaving the Lake Placid News in 1967, many asked the obvious question, "Why?"
"She is tired, very tired," Loeb wrote.
In her farewell column in the Jan. 12, 1967, issue of the Lake Placid News, Marge listed her accomplishments as editor and shared her hometown paper's philosophy for covering small-town news.
"We have tried to make the News a force in keeping the community moving forward, through news coverage and editorial discussion of its major events and issues," Marge said. "We have tried to cooperate with our elected officials because, on the whole, we feel they are trying to do a good job. We have tried to be constructive with our criticism when we disagreed and to concentrate on the important issues rather than contributing to the petty bickering which weakens any effort."
Marge also tried to present as balanced a picture of the life of the community as possible, "remembering always that a third of our readers see only this newspaper, and that many, many strangers find its a mirror of the town."
While Marge was editor of the Lake Placid News, her husband - bobsledder Jim Lamy - was competing on the international level, including the Olympics. Marge spent 12 years covering winter sports, six while at the News, and worked as a reporter at the Winter Olympics in 1960 at Squaw Valley, California; in 1964 at Innsbruck, Austria; and in 1968 at Grenoble, France. Marge combined her passions for writing and history to pen a book on the history of bobsledding in the U.S., which remains unpublished. She also wrote the book, "Cross Country Ski Inns of the Eastern U.S. and Canada," published in 1986.
In 1993, the bobsled finish lodge at Mount Van Hoevenberg, outside Lake Placid, was renamed the James E. Lamy Lodge after Marge's husband. Jim was inducted into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame in 1990. We now encourage the Hall of Fame committee to induct Marge as well. The sooner, the better. She deserves it.
A private graveside memorial service for Marge will be held Saturday, May 31 at St. Bernard's Cemetery in Saranac Lake. The family will receive friends at a celebration of Marge's life at 2 p.m. the same day at the Lamy Lodge at Mount Van Hoevenberg.