SARANAC LAKE - Colleagues and contemporaries remember Tim Jock as a dedicated and often fiery mayor of this village.
Jock, who held Saranac Lake's top elected post for six terms, from 1979 to 1987 and from 1995 to 1998, died at home on Sunday, according to Brendan Keough of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home, which is handling funeral arrangements. Jock was 63.
"Whether you were his friend or a taxpayer, you always knew where Tim Jock stood," said Howard Riley, a Democrat who served with Jock on the village board and was appointed village manager by him in 1997. "He said exactly what was on his mind; it didn't matter when he was in a meeting or out of meeting. He didn't pull his punches at all."
Saranac Lake Mayor Tim Jock talks with village residents in 1995.
(Enterprise file photo)
"He did have a little fire in him, but he always watched out for the taxpayer's dollar. That was in the front of his mind all the time," said Tom Catillaz, a former village mayor and current trustee who served on the board with Jock. "And he certainly was well liked. I don't think he ever lost an election."
Jock first got involved in village politics as a trustee in 1974 as a Democrat. Catillaz said he was 18 years old and working with Jock at the Grand Union supermarket "when somebody talked (Jock) into running for public office, and that was the start of his political career."
Jock decided not to seek re-election after that initial term, but in 1977 he was appointed to a vacant seat on the board. In 1979, Jock ran for mayor and won. He was re-elected to the post four times in a row. He decided not to seek re-election in 1987.
In a look back at his political career published that year, Enterprise staff writer Chris Mele described Jock as an "often-times feisty former mayor, with his mane of a beard, (who) frequently had something to roar about." Mele wrote that Jock wasn't shy about trading barbs with people in the audience.
Jock defended his outspoken style, saying at the time, "I wasn't elected to be abused. If a man comes in and browbeats me, I'm going to browbeat him back."
"Beneath the gruff exterior, however," Mele wrote, "is a person who fundamentally believes that his role was to serve the people of the village."
"He kept an eye on things and was responsive to the people," former village Trustee Charles Golluscio, who worked with Jock for two years, told the Enterprise in 1987.
Jock described the village's economic growth as the high point of that first mayoral tenure, while naming a decision to turn the village's tax assessing over to the three towns that partially lie in the village as the low point.
Asked in 1987 what he would miss about being mayor, Jock said, "Not being in the middle of the action."
True to those words, Jock didn't stay away from politics for long. In 1994, he started running for a seat on the Franklin County Legislature before later withdrawing from the race.
The following year, Jock returned to village politics, running for mayor with the independent Common Cents Party on a platform to cut the village budget by 20 percent. He won, unseating incumbent Republican Mayor William Madden III, who had succeeded Jock eight years before. Jock won another mayoral term in 1997, this time as a Republican.
When he left office in 1999, Jock said he would look back fondly on his years as mayor.
"It's been worthwhile," he told the Enterprise. "I've come to admire the people I've served with. I've been very grateful for the career I have had in this community."
Dennis Dwyer, who was a village trustee when Jock returned as mayor in 1995, pointed out that Jock was also involved with Saranac Lake's local Pendragon Theatre.
"Since Tim had a flair for the theatrics, our (village) board meetings were never routine or boring," Dwyer said. "Often what the public viewed as arguments were really just Tim employing his acting skills.
"He served the people of the community well, and he always had the best interests of the village at heart."
"Tim Jock was very engaging ... a very bright guy, a very hard-working guy," local lawyer Paul Herrmann, who served on the village board when Jock was mayor in the 1990s, said this morning upon hearing Jock had died.
Herrmann said Jock was a good politician, but one who worked for the people of Saranac Lake rather than for his own career.
"I didn't always agree with him, but I never questioned his motives," Herrmann said. "He was just a really smart, fiery personality."
Riley had he knew Jock had some recent medical issues but called his death "a terrible shock.
"I had just been up to visit him the week before last, and chatted with him out on his deck, which we hadn't done in some time," Riley said. "To listen to him talk in his voice - you know, that loud, fast-clipped voice - he was pretty much himself."
"It's very unfortunate," Catillaz said. "He was a great guy."
Current Mayor Clyde Rabideau said Jock was "passionately dedicated" to the village and will be "dearly missed."
A native of the Brushton-Moira area, Jock moved to Saranac Lake in 1968 to attend North Country Community College, where he earned a social science degree. He also attended Plattsburgh State University.
Jock served six years in the Army Reserves. He worked for Prudential Insurance Company and for the state Department of Corrections as a cook at Camp Gabriels. He had two children - a son, Timothy, and a daughter, Trinity, who works for the Enterprise - and several grandchildren.
Keough said funeral services are incomplete. A full obituary will be available later this week, he said.
Enterprise Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed to this report.