After deciding to run for one more term as Niskayuna town clerk in 1987, the 73-year-old Alice Wagner had a simple reason: She liked going to work.
It was a job she had already been doing for 26 years, and one she would continue doing, winning a last term that November unopposed.
“I really do enjoy my job,” Wagner told The Daily Gazette that July. “I look forward to going to work.”
It was Wagner’s dedication to her job and to the town that those who knew her remembered Monday, two days after her passing at the age of 98.
Wagner finally retired as town clerk at the close of 1990, having first been elected to the post in 1961. Before that, she took the deputy town clerk position in 1954. She first started with the town in 1951 as a clerk-typist.
To put Wagner’s time as clerk in perspective, from 1961 to 1990, the town saw six different supervisors.
On Monday, three of those town supervisors recalled the town clerk who was always there, hardly taking a day off.
Mardy Moore, supervisor from 1980 to 1987, recalled Wagner as an even-tempered clerk, who kept tabs on the documents needed and politely asked for documents that had yet to be filed.
During Moore’s time as supervisor, she recalled Wagner being so excited at the discovery of the original minutes of the Town Board. Wagner, Moore recalled, made arrangements to have them copied and preserved.
Moore also recalled the time Wagner took it upon herself to watch over a bird feeder at Town Hall, chasing away a blue jay harassing other birds there, using a broom to get the job done.
“What a wonderful town clerk she was,” Moore said.
Through much of her time with the town, Wagner worked with her sister Helen Mindel. When Wagner was first elected, she asked Mindel to be her deputy. Mindel had already worked for the town. The two continued to work together until Mindel’s retirement in 1990.
Ed Reilly, town supervisor from 1970 to 1979, and from 1989 to 1997, recalled when he first became supervisor. Reilly happened to be the first Democrat to be elected to office in the town. Reilly recalled Wagner and her sister greeting him warmly, paying no attention to his party affiliation.
“She worked well with everyone,” Reilly said. The town clerk’s office under Wagner, Reilly added, “just functioned like a Swiss watch.”
This past February, Wagner and members of her family attended another Town Board meeting. She was there as current Supervisor Joe Landry and the Town Board passed a ceremonial resolution honoring her service and officially naming a future road in the town Alice Wagner Way. The road is to be built later this year as part of an apartment development off Hillside Avenue.
On Monday, another former supervisor, Mike Fritz, called Wagner “a fine person.” Fritz served as supervisor from 1966 to 1967, as well as two years on the Town Board, before moving on to the county.
“As long as I was able to serve in the town of Niskayuna, I depended greatly on Alice’s expertise and knowledge of the job,” Fritz said. “She was just always on the job and a very dependable public servant.”
Wagner was the mother of three and grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of 10. Calling hours were Monday evening. Burial is to be private for family.