CRANBERRY LAKE -- John E. MacAleese - A true Adirondack native has left us. John E MacAleese died Sunday morning November 28, 2021 at the Clifton Fine Hospital where he had resided since March after breaking his hip. He passed away peacefully with his daughters by his side.
John was born in Tupper Lake, NY on October 31, 1932, son of David and Louise MacAleese (proprietors of the Park Restaurant). John was raised in Cranberry Lake and went to the Cranberry Lake primary school through 8th grade. He attended Tupper Lake High School where he excelled in math and science. He participated in various activities and sports, including being on the 1948 undefeated football team. After graduating in 1950, John attended Clarkson University where he majored in Engineering and was a member of the Karma fraternity.
In the summer of 1953, he was working with a crew paving the parking lot at the Clifton Fine Hospital. There, on a trip to the kitchen for some water, he met a young dietitian and his true love, Mary E. Walrath of Harrisville. The two dated and were married May 8, 1954.
John was drafted by the Army and was stationed in Alaska where Mary soon joined him. While in Alaska, their first child, George was born. After his honorable discharge from the Army, John and Mary returned to Cranberry Lake where John worked at J&L and Mary waitressed at the Park Restaurant. During this time, their second son, Michael was born.
Wanting to complete his engineering degree, John moved his young family to Angola, Indiana in 1956 where he attended Tri-State University. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1957. This allowed him to return to Cranberry Lake and a job at the Newton Falls Paper Mill. With their third child, Anne Marie, on the way, John and Mary purchased land on Thompson Point on Cranberry Lake and built a home for their growing family. In the following years, the family expanded by two, with the addition of Lisa and John II.
While raising his family in Cranberry Lake, John had many friends and was actively involved in the Clifton-Fine community. He was a member of the Clifton Fine Lions, the Scoutmaster of Troop 36 and on the Fund-Raising committee of the Boy Scouts. He was selected for “Who’s Who” in the East in 1971-72. He was vice president of the New York State Engineers, Area IV. He was also a member of the Clifton Fine Hospital Board for several years but had to resign when he was elected supervisor for the Town of Clifton. While John was Town Supervisor, he was directly responsible for setting up the Youth Development Association for Recreation, building a Medical Center, purchasing the Star Lake golf course and the development of the Clifton Community Center including the library, as well as the town of Clifton public beach. John was re-elected as town supervisor, however resigned in 1976 when he was offered a position at Stebbins Engineering & Manufacturing in Watertown.
John moved his family to Watertown keeping the family home in Cranberry Lake to maintain his connection to the area and ultimately for his return. He was Vice President of Engineering at Stebbins and obtained his professional engineering license in 18 states and after retirement maintained his license in states where he had connection to family. During his years at Stebbins, he traveled frequently within the U.S. and internationally. Stebbins holds a patent on Semtherm which John had invented. Here he made additional life-long friends until he retired in 1994.
John started his retirement by becoming a snowbird spending winters in Port Orange, FL. Here he enjoyed the warm weather and spending time with friends, old and new, until 2014 when he made Cranberry Lake his year-round residence.
While John had many achievements, he most loved spending time with family and friends. John enjoyed being host and offering friends a cocktail, particularly his “Adirondack” Manhattans. He loved music with a good beat and was an excellent dancer. Having spent most of his life in Cranberry Lake, John had many stories to share of the area and his ties to it. He saw Cranberry Lake go from a bustling town thriving from the lumbering industry to becoming a forever wilderness area within the Adirondack State Park. He shared stories of his adventures as a boy, such as putting a barrel in a tall pine for a crow’s nest looking for incoming trains, to digging out the Presbyterian church basement with a horse. He told stories of boating on the lake at night and pulling his wife on water skis, visiting Hoppy’s/Wildcliff Lodge at the head of the lake, snowmobiling with friends and loving time on his Bolens Husky. When talking with John, you often heard a story about his time at the Newton Falls Paper Mill which he knew inside and out. John was known as a hard worker and was calm in a crisis.
He is deeply loved by his wife, Mary, who he has been married to for 67 years. He will be forever loved and cherished by his children and grandchildren. He will be deeply missed by all that knew him well and his character as a quick witted, humble gentleman.
He is predeceased by his parents and sister Katharine Smith (Palmyra, NY). He is survived by his wife, Mary and their children, George (Lori) Fort Wayne, IN, Michael (Vickie) Harrisville, NY. Anne (Pete) Standish, ME, Lisa (Jeff) Gorham, ME, John II (Wanda), Star Lake, NY. They have six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
By his request there will be no services at this time. There will be a graveside service in the spring.
Donations in memory of John may be made to the Cranberry Lake Fire and Rescue or the Clifton Fine Hospital Long Term Care.
Arrangements are with French Family Funeral Home in Star Lake. Condolences may be shared online at www.frenchfuneralhome.com.