ELIZABETHTOWN - The loss of 30-year St. Armand town Supervisor Joyce Morency, who died Monday after a long battle with cancer, weighed heavily on the hearts of Essex County lawmakers during Tuesday's meeting.
The regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors began with a moment of silence for Morency, who was elected supervisor in 1981 and in 1994 became the first woman to serve as chair of the county board.
Outside the county courthouse, flags flew at half-staff in her honor. During roll-call votes throughout the nearly five-hour meeting, board Clerk Deb Palmer had to mention the vacant seat. A framed photograph of Morency occupied the desk area where she once sat between Ticonderoga town Supervisor Deb Malaney and Newcomb town Supervisor George Canon.
A flag in front of the Essex County Courthouse in Elizabethtown flies at half-staff Tuesday morning in honor of St. Armand town Supervisor Joyce Morency, who died Monday.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
Canon recalled that Morency was as comfortable in a sawmill as she was in a board room. He said she was also a passionate Republican who got angry at Canon when tried to appoint Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas as chairman of the county's Personnel Committee.
"She let me know that it probably wasn't a good thing to do," Canon joked.
Elizabethtown town Supervisor Margaret Bartley, who joined the board at the beginning of the year, said she only knew Morency for a short period of time, but considers her to be the "ground-breaker" for women like Teresa Sayward, who will retire from the Assembly at year's end after a long political career.
"I think we owe her a debt," Bartley said.
Douglas said Morency initially refused to support him when he first ran for chairman of the board three years ago.
"She said, 'Can you switch (parties)?' and I said, 'Joyce, I just can't do that,'" Douglas said. "We got all done and started talking about other things, and she said, 'All right, I had to give it one last try, but I am going to support you.'
"God bless her. We certainly do miss her dearly. She was instrumental to all of us who serve here."
Any St. Armand resident who would like to attend Morency's funeral services but doesn't have access to a ride is encouraged to call town Clerk Davina Thurston at 518-891-3189, and arrangements will be made for transportation. Calling hours will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today at the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake. A funeral service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Bernard's Church in Saranac Lake, with burial to follow in Brookside Cemetery in Bloomingdale.