Reflecting on two Adirondack stalwarts

June 26, 2017

This past week, we lost two extraordinary leaders who dedicated themselves to the Adirondacks: John Collins and George Canon. Through my work with Adirondack Foundation, I have the joy of knowing hundreds of people give their time and talent to make our region a uniquely wonderful place to be. Every town needs the people who step up and help make things work.  John and George stood out as mighty models of community service and leadership.

Some may think of them as very different, one dedicated to protecting the Adirondack environment and one dedicated to protecting the human communities – sugar and spice. To me, they were very similar respected leaders, tireless champions, and mentors.

Both John and George were born in 1938 in the Central Adirondacks, they graduated from Adirondack high schools, built respectable careers in the Adirondacks – John as a teacher and George first at National Lead and then into local government. They both witnessed the economic collapse of the former Adirondack economy and dedicated the second half of their lives to ensuring a positive future for the region.

John Collins served on local planning boards, the fire and rescue squads, as a member of the Adirondack Park Agency, on the Boards of the Adirondack Experience (formerly Adirondack Museum), Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts, and the Bruce L. Crary Foundation. He was the founder of the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, which later became Protect the Adirondacks! John taught me the value of community and the importance of connecting with all people. You could count on John for a great story, history lesson on a boat ride across Blue Mountain Lake, and impeccably stacked wood.

George Canon served as supervisor of the town of Newcomb and on the fire and rescue squads, and as a member of the Local Government Review Board. He served on the board of Adirondack Architectural Heritage and Northern Forest Lands Council. He founded the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages and became one of the most successful local government advocates. George was a pleasure to work with on the legacy of Marvin Bissell, which will benefit Newcomb for generations to come. He taught me the value of understanding and considering all sides of a problem.

Across the region, our communities are losing dedicated public servants. We need everyone who can to volunteer their time for service in local government, essential services like fire and ambulance departments, nonprofits and school boards. Please consider what you can do to follow John and George’s model and serve your community and our region.

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