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October 5, 1933 ~ November 20, 2023 (age 90) 90 Years Old
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Lorraine Spengler, a long-time resident of Kickerville Road and Ranney Way, Long Lake, passed away in the early morning hours of Nov. 20. She’d recently celebrated her 90th birthday at a dinner party hosted by family and friends and filled with some of her favorite things–good food, good conversation and great stories.
Lorraine grew up in Ossining on the grounds of St. John’s Military School, founded by her grandfather, William A. Ranney, Sr., who also founded three local banks. She was the beloved only child of Catherine and William A. Ranney, Jr., who worked alongside his father educating boys and running the banks. When she was 5, her grandfather taught her to read the stock tables printed in the newspaper, and he instilled in her the lifelong wisdom of saving and turning $1 into $2.
Long Lake loomed large in Lorraine’s life early on. Her father had been brought to Long Lake by his parents to escape a polio epidemic, and he later returned on summer visits with his own family to stay at the Endion Resort, run by the Bissel family. In 1945, when Lorraine was 12, her father purchased his own lakefront property, which is still in the family and known locally as Camp Point of View. Lorraine loved it from the start, even though the neglected camp needed lots of work. That first summer, she and her mother set out 37 pots to catch the rain that poured in through the roof. With her father in Ossining during the week, she was taught to help manage the property. The lake also became her summer playground: waterskiing with new friends, dancing at the town hall, movie-watching on weekends at the theater run by Ma Becker. At 14, she helped Mr. Emerson lay the first phone line down the length of the lake from the back of a boat.
When it was time for high school, her parents sent her to a girls’ boarding school in Massachusetts, as home was still the grounds of a military academy filled with dozens of boys her age or older. At House in the Pines, she made a number of lifelong girlfriends, but she’d already begun dating a young man she met in Long Lake while he was working at the Riverdale Boy’s Camp. Her parents liked him, but when she wanted to marry at 19, they offered her a trip to Europe instead. She refused, and after a traditional wedding, the young couple spent their honeymoon in Long Lake–working. Plumley’s was a rustic resort favored by well-to-do city people. Bill was hired to manage it, and Lorraine ran the laundry. One day, she was looking over the plans for the house she and Bill planned to build on Kickerville Road when one of the guests approached. “Your walls need to be thicker than your pencil line,” he told her, and the house would never work. He happened to be a highly-regarded architect and offered to draw her a proper set of blueprints–for free.
Lorraine and Bill lived in the basement of that house for several years while Bill built the rest. They started the Hamilton County Lumber Company at the back of their property. Lorraine did all the bookkeeping, until the babies started arriving.
Lorraine and Bill raised four sons. It was a busy life, but a good one. By then, her parents had retired to Long Lake and lived just across the street, down at the lake. Lorraine was known for her thriftiness, but she was generous with her hospitality. She loved cooking for family, for guests, for parties. She was especially fond of deviled eggs and enjoyed a well-made whiskey sour. Her French Toast was legendary and her blueberry pancakes much in demand. She never tired of Long Lake: the hummingbirds swooping down to the feeder outside her window, the occasional bear wandering by her back door, the sound of the loons, the deer that she fed all winter long (against the rules). She had strong opinions which she readily shared with the town supervisor, the tax assessor, the Adirondack Parks Agency and others.
She lived a big life in a small town, but it wasn’t without tragedy. She and Bill lost two of their sons, Scott and Billy, as adults. Husband Bill passed away in 2007. She is survived by her two younger sons, Jeffrey and Gregg; four grandchildren: Laura, Daniel, Joshua, and Ranney; three great-grandchildren; daughter-in-law Marsha Spengler; a niece, Pam McWilliams; and a nephew, Chet Belding. Her mind was sharp to the end. She almost never told the same story twice, unless, of course, she was asked.
A graveside funeral service in Ossining is pending, and a Celebration of Life will be held in Long Lake next summer.