October 8, 2010


A long life in county politics

Colleagues remember work of legislator Ted Law, who died Tuesday

Ted LawBob Ellis/staff photographer
Former Cortland County legislator and farmer Ted Law Sr. watches through a fence as his cattle are auctioned April 20, 2007. Law and his son had decided to end their farming business on Telephone Road after 46 years. Law spent 36 years serving as a county legislator.

Staff Reporter

Friends and former legislators who served with Ted Law Sr. remember his 36-year legislative career as one marked by fair and deliberate proceedings.
Law died Tuesday at the age of 78.
The former Taylor supervisor was the Cortland County legislative representative for Cincinnatus, Taylor, Freetown and Willet from 1972 to 2001, chairing the Legislature from 1981 to 1983.
Law served on the county Board of Supervisors prior to the Legislature’s inception, from 1964 to 1969 and again from 1971 to 1972.
A dairy farmer, he is survived by his wife of 40 years, Donalou, and eight children. He was predeceased by his first wife, Wanetta.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the United Presbyterian Church of Cincinnatus.Burial will be in Taylor Rural Cemetery.
Colleagues said he was diplomatic and professional, taking his legislative duties seriously.
Legislator Sandy Price (D-Harford and Virgil) served with Law on the Legislature and said she would often go to him for political advice, even though they were on the opposite side of the aisle, politically speaking.
“I know I would consult with Ted about things because I had the greatest respect for him as a man,” Price said, adding Law was also a devoted family man and perpetually ready with a joke.
Politically active Marathon resident Connie White broke down when remembering Law, whom she considered a friend.
“He was a guy that stood his ground and did it in a way that was decent and friendly, but he had his own opinion and stuck to it,” White said.
She praised Law’s activity in the Republican Party, which she said was fiscally conservative and always kept the county’s best interests in mind.
Law encouraged legislators to vote the way their constituents wanted, not just in line with the party’s thinking, said White.
Law started out as a Democrat on the Legislature before switching to the Republican Party. But when it came to voting on issues, White said Law put aside partisan interests.
“He looked out for the best interest of the whole county but if it came to his bailiwick he was there to protect his bailiwick and not ... let his towns get the shaft,” White said.
John Ryan Jr., a county attorney during Law’s legislative service, called Law a friend and a conservative, saying he wishes the county could find a “bunch more like him.”
Ryan was Republican Party chair when Law switched parties, saying Law did so because he was a conservative Democrat who found himself voting with Republicans.
“When I think of Ted Law I think of a guy who went into politics with no agenda for himself. He didn’t care to advance himself in any way, he was just interested in doing the best he could for the people of Cortland County,” Ryan said.
Shirley Fish, a former Republican Cortlandville legislator who served for eight years with Law, called him a longtime friend who was soft-spoken, fair and hardworking.
“He would take votes to see where we were coming from and what we agreed on. He was a good leader, he really was,” Fish said, recalling Law’s days as Legislature chairman.
Former Legislature Chairman Steve Harrington, a Democrat, said Law listened and remembered.
“On more than one occasion, when I would meet with him, we would discuss various personalities or something that transpired 20 years ago,” Harrington said.
Law was a lot of fun and loved to tell stories and joke.
He was also a great source of information, Harrington said.
“I really enjoyed our time together,” he said.
Dave Fuller, the current Legislative representative for the 17th District Law once represented, said he sought Law’s advice when he was thinking of running and stepping down from his position as Taylor town supervisor.
“He convinced me that it was a lot of work but that I should run and give up my supervisor (position) for the town,” Fuller said.
Fuller called Law honest and hardworking, saying he had a lot of respect for him.
“He spent a lot of time at the Legislature and working on the farm until he wasn’t able to farm anymore,” Fuller said.


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