JOHNSBURG His term of office hadn't expired, and in an election he would have been unbeatable. But in summer 2006, Paul Scott the unofficial mayor of Garnet Lake along with Ellen, his wife of nearly 64 years and chief adviser ("even when I didn't need advice," he grumbles with a smile), quietly stepped down and away. They sold their lakeside home and moved to Schaghticoke, just minutes from their son Hank and his wife Bonnie.
Their absence has left a gaping hole in the Garnet Lake community. And no wonder: For some 50 years, more than 30 of them as full-time residents, the Scotts were the "go-to" people of the lake: co-founders of the Garnet Lake United Rescue Patrol (GLURP); keepers of the dam; key figures in the lively July 4th parade; surrogate uncle and aunt to a generation of neighboring children; unfailing source of news and memories; critics of mindless bureaucracy; and staunch Republicans, mostly.
Their roots in the region run even deeper. Ellen Scott's grandmother, Mary C. Boyce, had owned property on the lake since 1925, and Ellen had spent summers there as a child. In 1943, she married Paul Scott, her high school sweetheart from Cobleskill, New York, and he fell in love with the lake, too. So in 1956, with three young children, they bought their camp from her family to use as vacation property. Then in 1961, Scott made an earth-shattering decision.
"I came home one day and said, 'You'd better pack because we're moving up north,'" recalls Scott, now 81, who had been selling cars in Fishkill, New York. "We were 60 miles outside of New York City and it was pretty hectic, really too busy. We both come from a small town and we were looking for something much easier. Garnet Lake seemed to be it."