Jane Claus and her husband Bob will most likely never forget the day they got the call letting them know they were the 2013 Schroon Lake Citizens of the Year.
“I was blown away,” Bob told Schroon Laker.
“Bob was speechless,” recalled Jane. “He said: ‘Can you say that again? I am going to put you on speaker phone’.”
The caller was Tony Kostecki, the new head of the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the award. The couple was presented with the honor at a dinner at Witherbee’s Restaurant on Tuesday night (June 18).
The annual award is presented to outstanding residents of Schroon, Paradox and Severance -- or service organizations -- whose volunteering efforts have made a profound impact in the community.
The couple, both music teachers, were recognized for among many activities, including their volunteering efforts at Seagle Music Colony, The Schroon Lake Central School, The Schroon Lake Arts Council, The Town of Schroon, The Lions Club, The Schroon Lake Fireman’s Ladies Auxiliary, the Schroon Lake Library. Jane was on Library board of trustees for a number of years.
“The chamber of commerce will be recognizing the significant contributions that Bob and Jane have made to our community and area for many years,” the chamber board said in a prepared statement.
Bob has been a substitute music teacher at SLCS, has served on the school board and for many years he and Jane co-directed the high school play.
“We enjoy anything to do with music and enjoy working with kids and music.,” Bob said
The couples are presently involved with the Seagle Colony, and are on their advisory board. Their current project is helping coach four young 6th grade actors to perform in Street Scene, Seagle’s first production.
Bob has deep roots to Schroon. Born in Schenectady, he grew up here until he was 10 before moving to Troy. (His family always had a summer place here).
He studied at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam majoring in voice with strings as a minor.
Jane studied to be a music teacher, with a major in piano.
Bob spent much of his life as a music teacher in the Capital District. It was there he met Jane at community college The couple married in 1993.
“I teased Bob before I retired about him being so involved in the community and not being able to retire and as soon as I retired I started doing the same thing.
Five of the couple’s six children, and two of their grand children, were expected at the awards dinner.
Apart from their only “official duty”, being the grand marshals of the 4th of July Parade, Jane vowed “to keep doing as much as possible for the town as we possibly can.”
Does the couple have any words of advice for folks considering getting involved in their community?
“There really is no excuse to be bored. Getting involved is not for everyone, but if anyone has an interest at all in anything ,you can find something to do,” said Bob.
“It’s a small town but there is lots of stuff going on”.
“We were recently at Friends of the Library annual meeting, and they always have room for volunteers. Then there’s the Lions Club and if you want to be a bit rough and tumble there is the Fire Department”.
With the arts playing such a large role in the couple's lives, I asked bout their importance for Schroon.
“The arts are extremely important to every body, even if they don’t realize it,” said Jane.
“It keeps us human and makes us humane.
“That’s the philosophy we obviously really believe.” said Bob. “On a more practical basis the Seagle Colony and the Schroon Lake Arts Council do brings business to town and there’s the economic benefit that comes with that".
And what are there hopes for the future of greater Schroon Lake.
“Certainly we would like to see the town prosper even more. Jobs are on everybody’s mind these days. We were just talking with some friends and I’m not sure how realistically how many jobs we can expect a town like this to foster, but there is room for some small impact business, like some high tech stuff, provided we have really good internet access, which is just around the corner now.
“There’s that possibility but I think that Schroon Lake will always be a tourist town, but there’s always room for expansion.
“Jane and I are very excited about the possibility of expansion at the Woods House property. If that can go ahead as Julia (the new owner) has planned – that could be a minimum of 15 to 20 full time jobs, and she plans to keep it open all year round and in Schroon Lake, 15 – 20 jobs is significant.