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Remembering Don Edgley’s two days of glory

August 3, 2018
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Residents in this community don't usually have the mayor proclaim a special day in their honor, yet Don Edgley - who died on Sunday, July 29 at the age of 85 - had two in his life.

Below is the Lake Placid News story published on March 18, 2016 about the community's latest Don Edgley Day.

If you missed the first Don Edgley Day in Lake Placid - declared on Aug. 23, 2002, the day before his 70th birthday, by then mayor and current North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi - you had the chance to enjoy another Don Edgley Day on Friday, March 11, 2016, proclaimed by current Mayor Craig Randall at the American Legion Post 326 on Main Street.

Article Photos

Stuart Spotts, far right, watches Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall present Don Edgley with a village paperweight after proclaiming Friday, March 11, 2016 as Don Edgley Day to honor the U.S. Air Force veteran’s 60 years of service to the American Legion Post 326. Edgley died on Sunday, July 29 at the age of 85.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

"It's a privilege, Don, to be here tonight," said Randall, who joined American Legion members, friends and family to honor Don's 60th year as a member of Post 326. "I've been asked to help everybody recognize a commitment that's been made by you over more years than I've been maybe on the face of the Earth."

"Who told you I was committed?" said Edgley, sitting in a chair next to the mayor in front of the buffet table.

Between the time of open bar and a free dinner, Edgley was lauded with praise for his dedication to the American Legion and to the community. After the mayor presented him with a framed proclamation and a crystal paperweight that has the village logo embedded in it, Post Commander Jordanna Mallach gave him letters by New York State Division of Veterans Affairs Director Eric J. Hesse and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro.

"The commitment you've made to a new generation of veterans, by providing your guidance and assistance, has been and continues to be invaluable," Stefanik wrote. "I stand with the community in thanking you for all you have done and continue to do."

Mallach explained that Stefanik had an American flag fly over the U.S. Capitol in Edgley's honor.

"It did not make it up here from Washington, D.C. in time, but they let me know today that it was on its way and will arrive next week," Mallach said.

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Life in Lake Placid

A 1950 graduate of the Lake Placid High School, Edgley joined the U.S. Air Force in 1951 during the Korean War. He served until 1954 with tours in the U.S. and in Japan as a senior aircraft electrician and joined the American Legion Post 326 in 1956, serving over the years as a rifle drill team member, adjutant and post chaplain.

"I always considered it quite an honor to be the chaplain at the memorial services for all these great veterans that have passed away in the last few years, both in World War II and Korea," Edgley told the crowd. "And I, being a Korean vet, would like to say we were the kid brothers of the greatest generation."

Edgley meant that literally. His three older brothers - Roy, Sidney and Bob - all served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Bob was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces and flew his limit of 25 missions over Germany in 1943 and 1944. Roy was in the Pacific and was wounded in 1944 during hand-to-hand combat on Leyte Island in the Philippines fighting against the Japanese. And Sidney served in the Pacific in 1944 and 1945 and spent some time in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.

After his time in the Air Force, Don Edgley returned home to Lake Placid to make a life for himself, marrying Agnes Edwards in 1957 and raising two sons, Leonard (Williams) and Jerry, and a daughter Karen. Don and Agnes have been married for 58 years.

Edgley used his training in the Air Force to build a career, working for three years in the Lake Placid Club's electric shop and six years at Lake Placid Plumbing and Heating before joining partners Roy Allen and Bill Davis at the Lake Placid Electric Company in 1965. He retired in 1994.

In 1956, Edgley joined the American Legion and the Lake Placid Lodge No. 834 of Free & Accepted Masons, and he was active in the Lake Placid Kiwanis Club.

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American Legion and golf

Asked Monday, March 14 why he joined the American Legion, Edgley said, "I was a veteran, and I had three brothers in the Greatest Generation, and national pride. I was a patriot."

By 1970, Edgley began playing golf with his friends. "They got me out, and we messed around," he said, "and the first thing I knew I was vacationing in Myrtle Beach."

After retirement, Edgley paired his passion for golf with his dedication to Lake Placid veterans and re-organized the American Legion's annual golf tournament in the late 1990s. It had been dormant for a number of years.

"I picked it up again, but I was kind of lonesome," Edgley said. "I was the only golfer that was active in the Legion, so I was pretty much doing it alone and asking for help and each year it seemed to get better and people started helping me."

Edgley has helped the Legion raise about $50,000 with the golf tournament, and last year's event was the most successful. When Mallach joined the post, Edgley was eager to share his love of golf with her.

"When I came on board at the Legion, Don was instrumental in teaching me everything I know about golf because I never had played golf or had anything to do with golf," Mallach told the Legion crowd. "But I worked with him, and he has taught me a lot both for the golf tournament and the community at large. So I'm really grateful for his mentorship and his friendship."

In addition to his civic work, Edgley is widely known in Lake Placid as a humorist. In 2003, he published a book of local stories called "The 'Edge' of Humor and Other Stories of Lake Placid People," coedited by Charles and Barbara Kelly.

Funny stories and comments were shared throughout the March 11, 2016 event at the American Legion, including a quip from Edgley that he'll have to build another wall to place his new certificates. But there were also some serious tributes.

"I love Lake Placid, and I am proud to be an American Legion member," said Stuart Spotts. "I am proud to keep the American Legion pulse going, and I am proud to represent people like Don Edgley for the future of Lake Placid."

Thanks to the dedication of people like Edgley, Mallach and Potts, American Legion Post 326 - even with a dwindling membership over the years - continues to be the "anchor" of the community, as Edgley called it. Twice a year, on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, members put out flags around the community to honor veterans.

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Don Edgley Days

With this year's Don Edgley Day fresh in his memory, the News asked Edgley about the first one in 2002. He humbly put it into perspective.

"Yeah, that was more of a friendship deal," Edgley said. "Roby and I were friends, and he was invited to a big birthday party. I see no other reason for that except that he appreciates me as a friend."

In his proclamation, Politi referred to Edgley's longtime love affair with the game of golf.

"And at times, I have heard him say, 'How can you not love a game where a

300-yard drive and a two-inch putt count the same?'" Politi wrote.

Politi called Edgley a "quiet good-natured sort of fellow with a great sense of humor. He is a decent and well-respected citizen who is always there to give a helping hand."

As part of his 70th birthday proclamation, Edgley was handed a "Key to the Olympic Village," which he mentioned during the March 11 ceremony.

"I tried to use those keys," Edgley told Mayor Randall, "and they open up the landfill and the sewage plant."

 
 

 

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