Blair, Bailey, Patnode for Hall of Fame
LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Hall of Fame Committee named three inductees for 2018: Olympic biathlete and musician Lowell Bailey, local librarian Linda Blair and former Executive Director of the Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce Luke Patnode.
The 35th annual Induction Banquet will be held Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Conference Center at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 and are now available at the Olympic Center box office through Tuesday, Oct. 9.
To be inducted into the hall of fame, nominees must have made significant sports, cultural or civic contributions to the region, or their endeavors must have enhanced the historical heritage of the area.
If you ever been to the Lake Placid Public Library in the last 42 years, you’ve probably met Linda Blair, and if you’re taller than 6 feet, she’s probably asked you to help with stacking books. She’s sweet, ecstatic about her job at the library and uses words like “golly” and “jeepers.”
When Blair received the news of her nomination, she said she was overwhelmed.
“I’m not somebody that volunteers, I don’t join groups, and I thought, ‘Oh my golly,'” she said. “My only thing I do is work at the library, which I absolutely love. So for these 42 years — what better job? This morning is an example. I’ve had so much fun this morning. You can’t believe. We had wonderful little children coming in and people getting new cards, and I had trouble getting books on the shelves, so a man came over with his wife and helped me. We got the books on the shelf. It’s just so much fun.”
Blair turns 80 in October. She’s lived in Lake Placid her whole life, and she said she doesn’t regret a minute of it.
“It was such fun growing up in this village,” she said. “We could ride our bikes over to John Brown’s farm and around the lake. In the evening, when I was a teenager, my friend and I would walk uptown, and we would hear languages from all over the world. We were lucky because we had so many things offered to us just being a part of Lake Placid.”
Blair had been renting books from the library since she was a little girl, and when she got older and had a family, she took her children there, too. One day she started talking with then-librarian Therese Patnode. Blair described Patnode as a beautiful woman, a mentor and a soul sister.
“We had the most interesting conversations about religion and politics and life in general,” she said, “and it was just like an ongoing conversation. One day I said, ‘Oh Therese, this would be my dream,’ and not too long after, my phone rang and she said, ‘Would you like to come work at the library?’
“You wont believe it, but I’m very quiet and kind of shy, but the library has been my social life, and I’ve met some incredible people all through the years.”
Therese Patnode’s husband Luke Patnode is another inductee alongside Blair and Bailey this year.
Patnode was one of the original committee members who started bidding for a Lake Placid Olympics in 1962. He stayed with the committee for 12 years until it reached its goal, obtaining the Winter Olympics for 1980. Patnode died in 2003.
Other positions he’s held include heading the Essex County Tourism Department, founder of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council and a member of the formation of the Lake Placid Sports Council. Patnode was also instrumental in creating the “I Love New York” Matching Funds Program.
Blair said Patnode was a man who was always looking at the next step well before others could.
“Luke was one of those innovative people,” she said. “He saw not just what was happening in Lake Placid at any given moment, but he saw the future. He saw what needed to be done, and he knew contacts. He knew people all over the world. He was very, I would say, beyond his years.”
Lowell Bailey was born in North Carolina, moved to Old Forge at age 3 and then moved to Lake Placid in 1991 when he was 10 years old. For nearly two decades he trained in Lake Placid as a biathlete. It brought him to four Olympics, 11 World Championships and a gold medal at the 2017 World Championships in Austria.
He said he couldn’t have done it without community support.
“It’s a incredible honor; that goes without saying,” he said of the Hall of Fame induction. “It means so much to me to have a community like Lake Placid that I’ve called home for so many years. People there worked tirelessly on things like bringing the Olympics and Ironman [triathlon] to town and making Lake Placid a truly unique place. It’s special to me to share that honor “
While Bailey is well known for his skiing and shooting, he’s also an avid guitar and mandolin player, having earned his chops in his father’s band and later performing in groups such as Big Slide and Swimming with Champy — a reference to the Loch Ness Monster-styled myth of Lake Champlain.
“You never want to say the band’s broken up because you never know when the next reunion will be,” he said.
Bailey and his wife Erika (who also grew up in Lake Placid) recently moved to Bozeman, Montana, where he took a job running the Crosscut Mountain Sports Center, which has a focus on biathlon.
“I don’t know how to put it,” he said, “but I guess it’s bittersweet to be inducted into the year’s hall of fame and have it coincide with my move. It might seem for many that we’re deserting Lake Placid, and some days it doesn’t, but it will always be the place I call home. We’re 1,000 miles away, but we’ll be back frequently.”