Donal DeMacy

Obituary of Donal S DeMacy

Former Wilmington Supervisor Don DeMacy died on January 17, 2022. He spent his last days in Elizabethtown Community Hospital, a short distance from the county government center where he spent some of his finest hours. DeMacy was born in New York City in 1945. Although he grew up in Westchester County, he had a lifelong connection to the Adirondacks. His grandmother, Mabel Bushy DeMasi, was born in Lake Placid in 1898. In his 20s, Don moved into a small cabin in Wilmington on land that was originally purchased by his great-grandfather. In 1975, DeMacy, then 29, surprised many when he toppled incumbent Wilmington Supervisor Branchford J. Cook. Though he won his first race as a political Independent, he ran as both a Republican and as an Independent in subsequent campaigns. As with his political affiliation, the spelling and punctuation of his last name evolved over the years. He held the position of town Supervisor until 1987. He also served as the Chair of the Essex County Board of Supervisors and as the Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors during his time as a public official. In Wilmington, DeMacy is remembered for his many accomplishments in office as well as for his pugnacious personality and the colorful, controversial aspects of his reign. Along with the fact that he brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal money to renovate the homes of hundreds of Wilmington residents, perhaps the efforts most appreciated by his constituents were his work to increase the reach of the town's water lines. The fact that he was able to bring "town water" to many homes outside of the center of the community was one of his signature accomplishments. Another major accomplishment was his work to secure federal funds to finance the construction of the current Community Center on Springfield Road. DeMacy, who contracted polio as a child and had limited mobility for the rest of his life, ensured that the community center is accessible to the handicapped. The former supervisor also successfully applied for grants that funded aesthetic improvements around the "Four Corners" intersection of State Route 86, Whiteface Memorial Highway, and Bonnieview Road. And, after the town agreed to lease the E.M. Cooper building for 99 years, the town library migrated to its current home during the DeMacy era. DeMacy is also remembered for the ambitions that remained beyond his reach, including his work to use the impoundment of the AuSable River near the center of Wilmington as a source for hydroelectricity and his desire to wrest control of the sprawling AuSable Acres subdivision from the town of Jay and add it to the town of Wilmington. In addition to outsized goals and major accomplishments, DeMacy's years at the helm were also characterized by conflict. At various times during his six terms in office, DeMacy's antagonists included New York Governor Mario Cuomo; the Adirondack Park Agency; the state Olympic Regional Development Authority; the Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce; other elected officials in Wilmington; other members of the county Board of Supervisors; and the FBI, which conducted a sting operation of a close friend and political ally. Despite the political ramifications, DeMacy remained loyal to his friend. "I know how to fight the system when you have to," he told a newspaper reporter. In early 1987, after he was elected to his second term as the chair of the Board of Supervisors in the face of concerted opposition, DeMacy informed the press that "A few people are trying to kill me on my personal life. But they have enough skeletons in their closets." Although he'd again prevailed at the county level, DeMacy was slow to recognize a boiling insurgency in his own backyard. As he had used steady and determined door-to-door campaigning to unseat Branchford Cook in 1975, Rod Seymour employed the same tactics against him through the summer and fall of 1987. Seymour estimated that he spent 300 hours campaigning and $1600 on campaign materials. He charged that DeMacy was overly focused on county business and neglected Wilmington. "If DeMacy had gone out and knocked on doors he would have won," Hungry Trout owner Jerry Bottcher told the Lake Placid News in the days after Seymour's upset victory. "Don got his core of support, but the fringe votes turned. At the end, a lot of people said, 'Gee, where's Don? I haven't seen him.'" Asked if he would ensure a smooth transfer of power, DeMacy replied, "I'll do it as well as his people have done to me." He had survived close calls before. In 1983, running against former town Clerk and former town Justice Stuart Morgan, DeMacy prevailed by 38 votes. In an election marked by voter turnout that topped 90 percent, Morgan was endorsed by both the Democratic and the Republican parties. DeMacy won as an Independent. Along with the many controversies, victories, and hours spent working as a county legislator, Don enjoyed Wilmington's time in the international limelight when the 1980 Winter Olympics came to town. He particularly enjoyed hobnobbing and carousing with a visiting Chinese delegation. After his time in elected office, DeMacy spent most of his days on his family's land, where he enjoyed cooking, gardening, watching wildlife, reading, working on crosswords, collecting firearms, and other hobbies. Before going into politics, DeMacy worked as a laborer, and for the Postal Service. He graduated from Archbishop Stepinac High School in 1963. He is survived by a great uncle, Dean DeMasi (Anne); a sister, Gail Hengstenberg, and her children: Derek, Todd, and Tara; a sister, Michele (Steve) Inkel, and her children: Crystal, Julia, and Larrence; a son, Eben (Bridget) Van Voorhies, and his children: Kayla, Calen, and Teagan; a son, Dylan (Allison), and his children: Brendan and Olivia; and by his son Donovan (D, Wilmington); as well as by many other relatives and friends. He was predeceased by his parents, Ralph and Grace DeMacy, and by Bob and Judy Bowen. Calling hours will be Saturday, January 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the M.B. Clark Funeral Home in Lake Placid, NY. A Prayer service will follow at the funeral home at 1:00. Rev. Paul Kelly will officiate. Relatives and friends are invited to share a memory or leave condolences at www.mbclarkfuneralhome.com. A reception for family and friends will be held at 2:30 PM at Pourman's Tap House in Wilmington, NY. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mr. DeMacy's memory to the Wilmington Fire Department. .
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Saturday
22
January

Visitation at Funeral Home

11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Saturday, January 22, 2022
M. B. Clark, Inc.
2310 Saranac Ave.
Lake Placid, New York, United States
Saturday
22
January

Funeral Service

1:00 pm
Saturday, January 22, 2022
M. B. Clark, Inc.
2310 Saranac Ave.
Lake Placid, New York, United States

Final Resting Place

Haselton Cemetery
Haselton Rd.
Wilmington, New York, United States

Reception

A reception for family and friends will be held at 2:30 PM at Pourman's Tap House in Wilmington, NY
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