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Sovocool recalls devotion to Groton

Photo provided by Robin Cargian

Groton Town Councilman Richard Gamel, left, hands retired Councilman Ellard “Lewie” Sovocool a certificate of appreciation for his 46 years of service on the Groton Town Board, during a retirement party for Sovocool at the beginning of the month.

GROTON — December marked the end of Ellard “Lewie” Sovocool’s time on the Town Board, as after 46 years of consecutive service — the longest recorded service by someone on a town board by New York state — he finally decided it was time to retire.

Sovocool had one more year to go on his term, but he said he felt it was the right time to leave.
“I’m all done,” he said. “I didn’t think I could do what I needed to.”

Now 80 years old, Sovocool said he enjoyed his time on the board, but plans to spend time relaxing at home with his wife Francis.

“He missed very few meetings,” she said. “He was a part of many different situations.”

When former Town Board member George Lane died in 1971, Lewie Sovocool stepped in to fill his position. “He saw the need,” according to his wife.

Town Clerk April Scheffler — no relation to Town Supervisor Donald Scheffler — has worked with Sovocool since she began working with the town in 1997 as the deputy town clerk.

“Lewie has always been the go-to person when there was a question about something that was done in the past, what the issue was and how it was handled,” Scheffler said.

While she did not have a specific “favorite” memory of working with Sovocool, she said there was a tradition around the office that he moved to adjourn board meetings.

“On Oct. 12, 2010, the Town Board minutes recorded a jaw-dropping moment in time when Councilman (Richard) Gamel moved to adjourn the meeting, leaving Sovocool to exclaim that it was the first time in 40 years that someone had moved to adjourn other than him,” she said.

Sovocool said he too does not have a “favorite” memory of working on the Town Board. He just enjoyed his time “serving the people of Groton.”

“He has never spent the taxpayers’ money frivolously and has often been the first person to say “no” to a project, yet has always supported those things that we need to keep our town running,” Scheffler said.

“Lewie has served the town of Groton as a consistent, calm, voice of reasoning.”

At the beginning of the year, Gamel was appointed to return to the board to fill the final year of Sovocool’s term, which ends Dec. 31.

Gamel ran for the Town Board in 2003, 2007 and 2011. While serving in 2013, Gamel was one of three board members to vote against a proposed hydrofracking moratorium.

To celebrate Sovocool’s time on the board, a retirement party has held for him at the beginning of the month, where the town presented him with a certificate of appreciation.

Sovocool said he is happy with the way the town and Town Board have turned out.

While 46 years is the current record for longest consecutive time serving on a town board, Sovocool had a simple answer for how he managed to accomplish that goal.

“I just run,” he said.

Town Supervisor and board members could not be reached for comment before press time.