Jack Lawless
Adirondack Daily Enterprise,
June 5, 2018
Born: September 25, 1931

Died: June 1, 2018

Married: Ginger Lee Gowan, January 4, 1958

Children: Edward John, Jr.; Christopher; Joseph; Matthew; Michael; Margaret; Kenneth. A son or sons run the Down Hill Grill on Main Street in Saranac Lake in 2011.

Edward John Lawless, known as Jack and as "E. John" ran "E. John's" tavern, was Village Manager c. 1978-1984, manager of the Hotel Saranac and coach. In his youth he was a tray boy at the Spear Cottage on Riverside Drive.  He was a World War II veteran.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 20, 1984 Bob Seidenstein wrote a column with anecdotes about Jack, titled "A fond farewell," in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 15, 2018.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 5, 2018

‘E. John,’ ‘Jack’ Lawless

“E. John,” “Jack” Lawless died peacefully at his home on June 1, 2018, surrounded by his loving family. He was 86.

Born Sept. 25, 1931 to John Kenneth Lawless and Margaret Francis Seguin. Jack attended St. Bernard’s Elementary School, and graduated from Saranac Lake High School.

Jack served in the United States Navy from 1951 to 1954. He was assigned as a sonar man on helicopter Squadron 3 aboard the aircraft carrier Oriskany. After the service he returned to Saranac Lake, working alongside his father and younger brother Ken at the Texaco service station that they owned and operated (presently Verizon Wireless). It was during this time that Jack met and fell in love with Ginger Lee Gowan, they were married at St. Bernard’s church on Jan. 4, 1958. They remained married for 26 years. After divorcing, they maintained a beautiful friendship of love and respect of each other (and their new spouse’s families, which made the years of family gatherings all the more meaningful). Together they raised seven children and parented/grandparented united until the end.

Jack, along with his wife Ginger, owned and operated E John’s Lounge at the site of what is now The Rusty Nail. A few years ago, Jack, Ginger and the family, returned to shoot pool and have a few drinks at the Nail. They had a ball recounting the wonderful people they met and laughing about stories you’d only get from the characters that come from a small town like Saranac Lake. Jack also worked as a Purchasing Agent for Saranac Lake Central School. He later was offered and accepted the job as the first Administrator for the newly built William Mansion Nursing Home in Malone New York. He loved his 10 years in Malone and the friendships that he formed there lasted a lifetime. Jack went on to become Village Manager for Saranac Lake and later worked as Assistant Manager at the Hotel Saranac. Jack coached basketball overall for 44 years. He spent three decades with the CYO, also time with the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid Middle school programs. In his 70s, Jack worked as an Assistant Coach for the men’s team, head coach of the women’s team and, as a recruiter for North Country Community College.

Jack retired to Port Orange, Florida where he met and married Esther Huber. They lived in both Port Orange, Florida and Lake Placid. During his time in Port Orange, Jack worked at Spruce Creek High School and Campbell Middle School as a Teaching Assistant and a volunteer mentor to troubled youth, a cause that was extremely important to him. Esther’s sister Doris and her husband Jim Scott, also of Port Orange, became the best of friends. Jim and Jack shared a passion for Florida State football and together coached youth basketball in Port Orange. Esther’s family, children and grandchildren brought great joy to Dad’s life and he considered them his own.

Jack was a true gentleman. He was quick witted, a gifted story and joke teller and he was a friend to everyone he met. He spent a lifetime of giving, starting as a child, handing out food trays to the TB patients at Spear Cure Cottage before school. Later, he and Ginger opened their home to foster children, Fresh Air Fund children, local people young and old in times of need.

Jack was an avid volunteer. Some of the organizations included March of Dimes, Board of Economic Opportunity Council (18 years), Village Planning Board, Public Health Advisory Board, Board of Co-Operative Educational Services member, director of Malone Recreation Commission (10 years), Literacy Volunteer and Summer Recreation Program Volunteer (12 years).

He is survived by his wife Esther of Port Orange, Florida; beloved step-mother Beatrice Lawless of Ogdensburg; his children: Edward John Jr., (Phyllis Webster) of Granbury, Texas, Christopher (Cathy),of Saranac Lake, Joseph, (Carolyn) of Saranac Lake, Matthew of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Michael of Saranac Lake, Margaret Rice (Ernie) of Saranac Lake and, Kenneth (Helena) of Saranac Lake; and his precious grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his first wife Ginger Hughes, his father, mother and brother Ken Lawless.

Funeral arrangements are in care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake. A mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 7 at St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake. A celebration of his life will follow at the Mount Pisgah Lodge.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to remember Jack are asked to make a donation to any worthy cause supporting Saranac Lake or to a local youth organization of their choice.

Family and friends can also share their memories at fortunekeoughfuneralhome.com.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 12, 1977

E. John Lawless is village manager


SARANAC LAKE - The village board last night appointed E. John Lawless village manager, effective Nov, 8.

A native of Saranac Lake, Lawless, 45, is superintendent of the William Mansion Nursing Home in Malone.

One of the four board members. John R. Pickreign voted against hiring Lawless. He preferred candidate Edward Talbot.

The other members agreed to hire the former assistant purchasing agent for the Saranac Lake Public School system.

Lawless is to be paid $22,000. This was the highest salary request of the 14 candidates who applied for the post, Mayor Charles R. Keough said.

“I feel there are other applicants better qualified. The salary is too much,” Pickreign said in opposing Lawless's appointment.

Keough supported the appointment saying he believes Lawless to be best qualified.

The trustees denied the applicant's request for a three-year contract. His appointment is for one year.

In his application, Lawless specified he could not begin his service to the village until one month after notification of his appointment.

He is to receive three weeks' vacation, a health insurance plan for himself and his family, and all benefits of village employees.

He also will be given a written description of his duties and responsibilities which he and the village agreed upon in interviews.

In addition to his positions with the county nursing home and the school, Mr. Lawless was been the owner of E. John's Lounge, and with his father, ran the service station on the corner of Main and River Streets.

Lawless's appointment relieves Gerald L. Oxford of the acting village manager's role he has filled since January 1976.

Oxford, who has been asking to return to his police chief's job since April, was visibly pleased that an appointment had been made.

Oxford was congratulated by Keough and the board on his performance as acting manager.

He congratulated the village staff and acting police chief Gilles Miron for their assistance. “We're financially sound. We weren't when Marilyn (Marilyn Clement, village clerk) and I started,” Oxford said.

The board also approved Oxford's request to be given vacation pay due him in the higher-paid Manager's position.

He has served as police commissioner while manager.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 20, 1984

Jack Lawless critical of village politics in swan song interview


SARANAC LAKE — Jack Lawless may have been out on the street a lot as village manager, but after today he will be pounding the pavement a lot more: he'll be unemployed for the first time in his career. The pending status does not seem to worry Lawless, he made the choice to resign as village manager knowing his options. There are not many $26,000 a year jobs in the Tri-Lakes.

But Lawless, wearing a brown suitcoat and slacks that typified his dress of the last six and half years at the village helm, is not afraid to don other garb to earn his living. He has worn coveralls as manager of a local gas station, casual clothes as owner of a local bar, and suitcoats again as manager of a nursing home in Malone.

The outgoing manager said he always felt able to be Village Manager Jack Lawless when dealing with the public, and just Jack Lawless the citizen after working hours. But he was never able to feel that way with the village board.

"The pressures that are there that the public places on you never bothered me," Lawless said. "Most often, people have valid complaints. The pressure that bothered me was the politics, and I'm not going to change that system."

So he has decided to bow out. Too much pressure can cause blowouts, as any gas station owner knows.

Sitting in the one of the village parks he was in charge of, Lawless talked about the support he received as village manager, making his job gratifying, and the lack of support which often weakened the stands he tried to make.

He said he "leaned on" department heads and office staff many times for backing.

"The manager's only one member of the team; he's the catalyst," Lawless said. "He's got to be surrounded by good people.'"

Racking up some of the changes made in the village, like the low and high balls on the pool table at his old bar, Lawless said a lot of things have happened in his tenure.

The village has saved on some major items, such as fuel and insurance costs, he said. Village buildings have been made more energy efficient.

Mt. Pisgah, the village-owned ski center which the village has been focusing more attention on, had no violations this year for the first time. '

And in every year but one while he was manager, the village completed the year within the budget. Employee workloads have been better evaluated, with planned overtime and emergency overtime all laid out. More recently, Lawless categorized staff time to determine how much time workers spend in each department, so the board will be more aware of specifics when and if it needs to cut certain sections of the budget.

Each piece of village equipment has been tracked for how much fuel it • uses.

Lawless has also helped revamp the structure of the village work force. Before, the crew was very departmentalized into highway, water, and sewer sections and he said "they had to have a major crisis before they would assist one another." Now, a director of public works has been hired, a position which Lawless said he "absolutely" believes in, and this director coordinates the village crew and schedule, work assignments. Department members assist in all areas.

The subject of village workers is one which markedly reveals the pressure Lawless refers to not being able to deal with.

Newly elected village board members often think they are going to run a department when they get a seat on the board, and Lawless said there is a "big misconception between power and responsibility."

"I'm not going to let a trustee direct the men — and that happens constantly," he said, sitting On a park bench with his legs crossed and his hands clasped together over his knees.

While staff is loyal, Lawless said they are also intimidated by trustees. This mushroomed into an even more potentially poisonous situation when the village board withdrew Lawless's power to hire and fire employees. After this local law was changed. Lawless said the board "played politics with it."

The first meeting after it was passed, Lawless made a recommendation for a person he believed was best suited for an opening on the village crew. Another person, a close relative of a board members, was chosen instead.

The board also flip-flopped policy on Lawless another time, when he denied a leave of absence to a worker and the board then granted it. The next two similar requests were rejected by the board, and union grievances were filed. The board then gave Lawless back the, power to grant or deny leaves.

"I've got to do things the way I think they will work," he said. "I can't have someone else do it and then blame me."

The real trustee power lies with giving the village direction, he said, and "that hasn't been done."

Illustrating his point, Lawless spoke again of how the manager still has not been given a job description and a list of short and long-term goals the board wants accomplished, something Lawless has repeatedly asked for.

"People who work without goals cannot succeed," he said, looking through his rimless wire glasses and pursing his lips in a characteristic, movement. "They never know if they've accomplished anything."

While the eroding tax base is discouraging, Lawless leaves with a few hopeful suggestions for improving things: sharing sales tax, and sharing services with the county, such as with buying commonly used items in volume.

There is a big potential for savings in this latter area, he said, because it would give the 19 towns in the county "tremendous" buying power if they purchased standard items jointly.

Lawless compliments the village staff as reliable and knowledgeable, and said he thinks that overall there has been an attitude change with village workers. They are more receptive to the community, and take more time to listen to problems, he said.

Speaking of Village Clerk Treasurer Marilyn Clement, who tracks much of the information regarding the village, Lawless said she is "one of the most unrecognized people in the community" and he regards her highly.

Another area of high regard in Lawless's life is his family, which he says "has always been very supportive of whatever position I took, whether a stance or in terms of a job."

He said his children will appreciate not being abused on the telephone by irate residents, a situation which frequently happened in his home on South Hope Street white he has been manager.

He would like to stay in the area, and is considering the possibility of going into business again. His wife Ginger owns the Bargain Boutique in Lake Placid, and four of their seven children still live at home.

Lawless said a lot of changes have been made in the village during the time he spent behind his desk in the Main Street village offices, but "whether or not they are accomplishments only time will tell."

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 26, 2005

Lawless named NC hoop coach

SARANAC LAKE - The North Country Community College athletic department has announced that Jack Lawless will be taking over its women's basketball program.

Lawless has an extensive coaching background at many levels. He has been an integral part of the NCCC athletic department since 2001.

Lawless was involved as an assistant coach for the men's basketball team for two seasons, and has served as the assistant women's basketball since the program was reintroduced by the college in 2003.

Prior to his arrival at North Country, Lawless was the modified boys basketball coach at lake Placid High School for three years, and has been active in coaching since 1964 with the St. Pius X High School seventh and eighth grade boys team, the Northern Franklin CYO League and the Port Orange, Fla. Recreation League.

Lawless is excited about his new role with the Saints program.

"This seasonal I see us having more talent and more depth, with a mix of returnees and recruits" he ;said. "It will be my task to blend and improve their skills and knowledge of the game as individuals, as well as a team. Teams can look for us to be floor smart, intense, aggressive, and constantly using positive energy in pursuit of victory."

The NCCC athletics department is excited about the enthusiasm and experience that Lawless will bring to the program.

In the past, Lawless had served as Saranac Lake village manager and manager of the Hotel Saranac.