WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - H. Douglas Barclay, who represented northern New York in the state Senate for 20 years, was remembered Tuesday as a man who loved the north country and accomplished much for it.
“He truly was a north country, Oswego County person at heart,” his son Will told 7 News Tuesday.
Barclay, 88, died Sunday at his home in Pulaski. His roots there ran deep, as the seventh generation of his family to live in Pulaski.
Barclay served in the state Senate from the mid-1960s to the mid-80s. For much of that time, Republicans dominated state politics, and Barclay was an influential voice.
Still, Will Barclay recalled, his father worked hard to build relationships with Democrats.
“He didn’t have animosity toward the other side,” he said.
“He never took things personally. He understood that people had differences, but just because they had differences doesn’t make them evil.”
A review of WWNY’s video archives Tuesday showed instance after instance in which Barclay would address an issue - transportation, education, drug abuse, to name three - and propose solutions. In its obituary, the Watertown TImes cited a week in which Barclay got 15 of his bills passed.
“He could be exceedingly tough when he needed to be, and I saw that dished out to a number of different people on occasion,” said Jim Wright, who held the same state Senate seat as Barclay in the 1990s and 2000s.
“On the other hand, he would be a guy who would put his arm around you, give you some advice and in turn be very open and caring about whatever the issue may have been,” Wright said.
“He always put the north country first.”
Well into his 80s, Barclay continued to have a public voice. In a 2019 appearance in Watertown, Barclay addressed the continuing crisis along the southern border, saying “Congress must act.”
Barclay is survived by his wife and five children, including Will Barclay, who is a state assemblyman and is the Republican leader in the Assembly.
“I am incredibly proud to be his son and if I can live up to half of what he was able to accomplish, or a quarter of what he accomplished, I will consider my life a success,” Will Barclay said.