MASSENA - There are people who love to serve their communities and then there are people who live to serve their communities.
Jack R. Sauve was one of those who lived to serve.
Mr. Sauve passed away on Saturday, but the legacy of service he left behind will undoubtedly live on in the minds and hearts of his friends and family.
Mr. Sauves impressive resume of service included stints as Massena Central School Board of Education president, Massena town supervisor and Massena Electric Department board member, a position he continued to hold until the final months of his life.
Charles A. Chuck Raiti has known Mr. Sauve for years, but he says he really got to know him during the summer of 1997 when they were campaigning together - Mr. Raiti for a seat on the town council and Mr. Sauve for the town supervisors position.
We ran in the fall of 1997 and took office in 1998, Mr. Raiti, whose town council term will end on Tuesday, recalls. Boy did we take office in some tough times.
Mr. Raiti credits Mr. Sauves leadership for helping to guide Massena through a rough patch that included a fiscal crisis, major infrastructure issues, contentious negotiations with the linemen at MED and even a situation at Massena Memorial Hospital involving one of its doctors, not to mention an ice storm that dwarfed the one that hit the north country this past weekend.
During our first month in office, we had the ice storm, Mr. Raiti said.
And while he acknowledges his friend could sometimes be a bit prickly, he said he had the qualities and personality traits that were necessary to lead Massena through that difficult time.
He was a very tough negotiator and an astute businessman, Mr. Raiti said, noting that Mr. Sauve was serving as its superintendent of operations when he retired from St. Lawrence Gas in 1998.
His style was to walk in the room and let them know he was there, Mr. Raiti said, He taught me a lot.
Another thing that Mr. Raiti said he doesnt feel Mr. Sauve gets enough credit for is the deal negotiated with the New York Power Authority that helped bring millions of dollars to the area.
And while area leaders are now trying to renegotiate that deal, had Mr. Sauve not stepped in the current deal could have been much worse, according to the veteran town councilman.
Mr. Raiti explained that heading into the negotiations each town was facing NYPA, its attorneys and its negotiators by themselves, something that Mr. Sauve helped change.
We were getting killed in there, Mr. Raiti said. Behind the scenes, I think Mr. Sauve was instrumental in getting everybody together to negotiate as a team.
And while they may have been political allies, Mr. Raiti said he also got to know the real Jack Sauve.
He was a very personable person, Mr. Raiti said. When he was relaxed he could talk with the president of the United States or a guy who was down on his luck.
Mr. Raiti especially remembers Mr. Sauve constantly attending local sporting events, many of which Mr. Raitis own son played in.
He really loved local sports, Mr. Raiti said, recalling that when the Massena boys high school baseball team was playing for the state championship Mr. Sauve and his wife traveled from Massena to Utica for the game, which the team ended up winning.
John F. Macaulay, a current town councilman, said that if it wasnt for Mr. Sauve he may have never end up on the town board.
Jack appointed me to the town board, so I owe Jack a lot, he said.
Mr. Sauve explained that with one year left in his term then Town Councilman Thomas Grow was elected to the St. Lawrence County Legislature, creating a vacancy on the board.
Jack is the person who got me involved in local politics, Mr. Macaulay said, adding he finished out the remaining year of Mr. Grows term and has since been re-elected to the board three times.
He served the community big time, Mr. Macaulay said. He was on the school board for a long time. He was town supervisor and then there was the MED board.
Mr. Sauve was also a member of the Moose Lodge, American Legion and Rotary Club, while volunteering his time to coach youth sports.
He will be missed. He was a very good man, Mr. Macaulay said.
Mr. Sauve leaves behind his wife, Anna; a son and three daughters.
Memorial donations may be made to the Massena Rescue Squad or The Boys and Girls Club of Massena.