James Lawrence Ormiston | Obituaries

James Lawrence Ormiston, 84, died at his home in central Venice on December 21 after spending a month in the care of the Hospice of the Finger Lakes. He was born on May 10, 1938 in Watertown, New York. His father was Lawrence Robert Ormiston, a respected barrister and councilman, and his mother was Mary (Juby) Ormiston, who taught primary schools in the area. He graduated from Watertown High in 1956, where he was the town’s honorary mayor for a day, ran cross-country, developed an interest in public speaking, and met his flautist, Mary Ellen Wiley, in the band room at WHS. After graduating, he went west to Provo, Utah to attend Brigham Young University, returned to teach at Syracuse University through University College, and worked part-time as an assistant on a research project on animal behavior. He and Mary Ellen were married on September 13, 1958 in Littleton, New Hampshire.

He was known as “The Beard” in the early 1960s when he was a bartender at The Grill, a Union Springs social center on Cayuga Lake. He worked various jobs before realizing his ambition to run a kennel and breed and show purebreds. He has toured the dog shows of the Eastern United States winning four Best in Show awards and over fifty Best of Breeds with Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, Doberman Pinschers, Border Terriers, Basenjis and a Welsh Corgi, most memorable with Irish Wolfhound Seven Hawks Dink Stover, his best dog. He loved those traveling weekends with a show dog in the big Suburban and hanging out with other breeders and friends; However, running a busy kennel allowed him to be a stay-at-home father. When his show career was over, he occasionally judged local sanction matches.

He later became very interested in public affairs, serving as a Conservative Party committee member and serving on the Cayuga County Ethics Committee for several years. Up until his death, he was deeply involved in current affairs and also followed the successes of his two schools, Syracuse and BYU, on the soccer field and basketball court.

His parents and a brother Joseph predeceased him. He is survived by his wife of 64, sons Lawrence Robert ‘Jamie’ Ormiston and Thomas Wiley Ormiston and his wife Paige (Junker) of Norfolk,

Virginia, grandsons Thomas Malcolm and Henry Campbell; his brother John (Lucyann) Rochester and sisters Alice Best (Tom) Las Vegas, Kate Boldon (Bill) Fredericksburg, VA, Maryellen Fitzgerald (John) Savannah, GA, his sister-in-law Suzanne Calkins Wiley Carthage, NY and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. A memorial service will be held at a later date at the United Ministry in Aurora, NY.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to Cortland County SPCA, Inc. 879 McLean Road, Cortland, NY 13045

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