Obituary of Jean Argetsinger
Burdett, NY: Jean Sause Argetsinger, 97, died January 16, 2017, at her home overlooking Seneca Lake, surrounded by her family. She was predeceased by her husband Cameron R. Argetsinger in 2008 after 67 years of marriage.
She was born March 19, 1919, in Youngstown, Ohio, the youngest of four children of Michael J. and Philomena Margretta Sause. She was predeceased by her brothers William and Robert of Youngstown, OH, and her sons Michael (2015) and Sam (2014). She is survived by her sister Dr. Louise M. Sause of East Lansing, Michigan, and her children: J.C. (Joan) Argetsinger of Montour Falls, Louise (Tom) Kanaley of Rochester, Marya Smith of Elizabeth, IL, Getchie Argetsinger (Kevin Potter) of New York City, Peter Argetsinger (Sjoukje Schipstra) of Watkins Glen and Sebring, FL., Rob of Elizabeth, IL, and Duke Argetsinger (Kirk Piersma) of Seven Valleys, PA, daughters-in-law Susann Gary Argetsinger of Whitefield, NH and Lee Green of Chicago, IL; fifteen grandchildren and seventeen great-grandchildren.
A graduate of the Rayen School and Youngstown College, she studied journalism at the University of Missouri. Prior to raising a family she was a reporter for the Youngstown Vindicator. In later years she wrote a weekly column for the Watkins Review and Express. She also produced several books on Schuyler County history as well as co-authored a history of St. Mary’s of the Lake church. Her writing skills and flair for public relations have benefited many local organizations. Jean became a summer resident of Schuyler County after her marriage. From the time Jean and Cameron moved full-time to Schuyler County in 1952 to the present, she has been a community leader.
Jean’s long time and lasting contributions were officially recognized by the New York State Legislature when she was designated as a “”Woman of Distinction” in 1999, one of the first so named in the State. Locally her leadership was honored as the recipient of the Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Month in 1978, Citizen of the Year in 1988 and in 2005 for its lifetime achievement award. In 2004 she was inducted into the Schuyler County Hall of Fame.
In 1955, she founded the League of Women Voters of Schuyler County and was its first President. She was honored for her outstanding services by the NYS League of Women Voters in 2004 and 2008.
Her past efforts have ranged from her church’s restoration project to serving on the Boards, to name a few, of the United Way, the Chemung-Schuyler Health Foundation, the Association for the Blind, the Schuyler Health Association, the Mental Health Association, as well as the Mark Twain Drama and the President’s Council of Elmira College. Even in later years she co-chaired the Schuyler Hospital Fund, a role she initially undertook in 1957. In 2015 she was Chairman of the successful campaign for benefit of the Motor Racing Research Library.
As a mother, she stressed education and literacy, both in her family and community. Initially involved in the old Burdett PTA, she subsequently served on the statewide board of that organization. For her services, she was awarded a lifetime membership in the PTA. Among her Burdett activities, in addition to promoting a local public library, was the creation of the “Burdett Players” (today’s “Lake Country Players”, for whom she wrote plays and directed the cast.
In 1959, Jean was elected to the Watkins Glen School Board. Re-elected twice more, she served until 1970. She was selected as the first Schuyler County designated Trustee on the Southern Tier Library Board, serving in this capacity for ten years. In 2002, she received the STLS Outstanding Advocate for Libraries Award. In 1978, she was elected to the Watkins Glen Public Library Board becoming its President in 1980, serving in this position for 23 years. She initiated a major fund drive and supervised the development of the present Watkins Glen Public Library on Decatur Street, dedicated in 1987.
As wife of Watkins Glen racing founder, Cameron, Jean ensured that the library contained a fine archive of the area’s racing publications. In 1996, she led the Library’s effort to build a new wing devoted to the sport’s heritage, known as the International Motor Racing Research Center. The building was dedicated in 1998 coinciding with the 50th anniversary of racing at Watkins Glen. She served on the Governing Council since its inception.
She assisted Cameron in many ways in the race organization, even editing the race event programs. In the 1950’s she established the Paddock Club (now the Glen Club) as a civilized retreat for drivers’ wives and visiting celebrities. The parties in her home where she hosted the international racing community and local citizens are legendary. In 1998, she and Cameron were awarded the Briggs Cunningham Sportsmanship Award and in 2009 they were honored by Watkins Glen International’s “Legends of the Glen Award.”
She was a member of the Elmira Wednesday Morning Club and the Burdett Wednesday Afternoon Club as well as the Tuesday Bridge Club for thirty years.
Calling hours will be held Friday, January 20, from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Vedder & Scott Funeral Home, 122 Genesee Street, Montour Falls, NY. Her Funeral Mass will be held at St. Mary of the Lake Church, 905 N. Decatur Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891, at 11:00 am on Saturday, January 21, 2017.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Watkins Glen Public Library, 610 S. Decatur Street, Watkins Glen, NY, 14891 or to St. Mary of the Lake Church.