GLENS FALLS — City leaders are mourning the death of former Mayor James Donnelly, who died Sunday and helped with the development of Stichman Towers and attracted Kamyr Inc. to set up its paper mill equipment manufacturing company on Pruyn’s Island.
Flags in the city were lowered to half-staff on Tuesday to honor Donnelly, 90, who served one term as mayor from 1966 through 1969. He also was city attorney from 1961 to 1962 and later spent 16 years as director of the Mental Health Information Service for the state Third Judicial Department.
EDC Warren County President Edward Bartholomew, who served as mayor from 1978 to 1985, said he had a great deal of respect for Donnelly and considered him to be one of his mentors, along with Robert Cronin — Donnelly’s successor as mayor.
“I used to call upon both of them for some thoughts and suggestions along the way,” Bartholomew said.
Donnelly was not outgoing, but he was friendly and had a great ability to listen and comment, according to Bartholomew.
“He was kind of quiet and reserved in his personality, but very quick-witted and had a good sense of humor,” he said.
Bartholomew described what would happen after he discussed an issue with Donnelly at length.
“Afterward, he would ask a few questions and he would say: ‘Ed, you’re the mayor, make a decision,’” he said.
Donnelly served as mayor when the Glens Falls Housing Authority constructed the LaRose Gardens apartments and he led the planning for the Stichman Towers senior complex.
Bartholomew said Donnelly also helped attract Kaymr to come set up its business.
“Mayor Donnelly was very helpful in assembling the pieces of property together to help Kamyr to build on that site,” he said.
Cronin defeated Donnelly, a Republican, in his bid for re-election in 1969, as a Democratic wave took majority control of the council. Donnelly returned to private law practice. In 1973, he was appointed to the position with the Third Judicial Department.
Once out of office, Donnelly kept a low profile and did not comment on city affairs, according to Bartholomew.
“He also recognized that once you’re out of office as mayor, the baton has been passed,” he said.
Mayor Dan Hall said Donnelly’s grandchildren were friends of one of his sons and he would see the former mayor at ballgames.
“He seemed like a very nice, pleasant, positive man,” he said. “I didn’t really know him, but he was very well respected in the city and his family was always very well respected.”