Monday, January 9, 2017

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Wilber remembered at Woodstock memorial


Wilber
(photo from Friends of
Jeremy Wilber on Facebook)

WOODSTOCK – Almost 1,000 people gathered Sunday afternoon at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, and paid tribute to the memory of late Town Supervisor Jeremy Wilber, who died January 1 of cancer, at age 66.

The Canadian native spent his formative years growing up in Woodstock, later working as a bartender, carpenter, sewer superintendent, eventually serving as the town’s longest tenured supervisor. He was a self-taught playwright, author, and literary scholar.

“Jeremy served me my first alcoholic beverage,” recalled state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, whose brother Dennis kept bar alongside Wilber at the legendary Sled Hill Café, a thriving music spot in the late 1960s. “Several lifetimes have passed since those days,” Cahill said, noting a 46-year friendship with Wilber.

“Long-haired, baby-faced, erudite Jeremy Wilber, with just the right amount of townie pride, Woodstock hippy magic, and a good dose of practicality, personified Woodstock in the early 1970s,” Cahill said.  “As much as his style of leadership defined what Woodstock is today.”

“Jeremy loved being town supervisor, because he loved the town of Woodstock. For him, serving this community was a privilege,” said his sister Alix Wilber of Seattle.  “He told me once that the secret to being a good politician is to be a good listener. And nobody could listen like Jeremy. When you spoke to him, you had his entire attention.”

Several literary titles, including Man & Sewer Man; Miles From Woodstock; and Select Work, a collection soon to be published, numerous speakers spoke of Wilber’s love for acting and theater, Shakespearean plays, poetry, and Russian literature.

“God is in good hands,” observed former town attorney Arthur Kahn, an old friend. Wilber tapped Kahn’s son, Liam, then 18 years old, to be his deputy supervisor in 2012. The elder Kahn said Wilber’s mentorship role for Liam was life-changing.

“I think I can speak for everyone here, it is a privilege to have known Jeremy, and it is an honor to pay tribute to him today,” said old friend Peter Cantine, who washed dishes alongside Wilber at the Bear Cafe in the early 1970s, before returning to town in 1988 to become its owner.   “That was still in the day when bartenders were bestowed an exalted status in the community. These were the de facto mayors of their time, public figures. They were the arbiters of what was right or wrong, what was funny, hip, or not; and perhaps most importantly, who got a drink or not.”  

Wilber is survived by his wife, Fran Lori Azouz; a daughter, Abigail Louise Wilber; a son, Lee Paul Wilber; two sisters, Alix Wilber of Seattle, Washington, and Barbara Wilber of Olive; and by a brother, Chris Paul of Red Hook; plus thousands of local neighbors and friends. His seat as town supervisor has been filled by Deputy Supervisor Bill McKenna.


Hundred gathered to remember Wilber

 

 


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