Niederbuhl guided bank, hospital in transition

Plaque unveiled outside AMC board room

Arthur F. Niederbuhl accepts a check in 1981 in his role as president of the General Hospital of Saranac Lake’s board. (Enterprise photo)

SARANAC LAKE — A plaque dedicated to the life and memory of Arthur F. Niederbuhl was unveiled at Adirondack Medical Center on Tuesday night by members of Adirondack Health Foundation, Adirondack Bank, and friends and family.

Niederbuhl, who died in January at the age of 92, was a math teacher and longtime operator of a Bloomingdale grocery who also served on the boards of high-impact organizations in the area. The plaque sits outside the Redfield board room on the second floor of AMC and details Niederbuhl’s contributions in serving as chair of the board of directors for the General Hospital of Saranac Lake for 20 years, and his work on the Adirondack Bank board.

He was the first chairman of the bank’s board in 1991 and stayed on for the next 15 years. He had previously spent 21 years on the board of Saranac Lake Federal Savings and Loan Association, which was bought by Adirondack Bank, including eight years as that board’s president.

“When Saranac Savings and Loan was going through some difficult times, there were a bunch of different banks looking to acquire Saranac Savings and Loan,” said the president and CEO of Adirondack Bank, Rocco Arcuri, “Art stuck to the plate and pushed very hard for Tom (Harold Thomas Clark) to win the bid.”

Adirondack Bank is based in Utica, with a branch in Saranac Lake, but bank officials say Niederbuhl was critical to the larger bank’s survival. Clark, the bank’s chairman, said without Niederbuhl there never would’ve been an Adirondack Bank, and he urged that the new plaque be made. Clark couldn’t be at the dedication due to medical complications but sent his message through Arcuri.

Three of Arthur F. Niederbuhl’s sons gather around his memorial plaque Tuesday at Adirondack Medical Center: from left, David Niederbuhl, Arthur S. “Artie” Niederbuhl and John Niederbuhl. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

“The hardest job that Mr. Niederbuhl had on this board, as board chair, was the merger between Saranac Lake General Hospital and Placid Memorial Hospital to form Adirondack Medical Center,” said Hannah Hanford, executive director of the Adirondack Health Foundation. “That’s his legacy. To think about someone that gives that much time, and runs a business, and has a family — it’s extraordinary. He was truly an example of a community leader.”

John Niederbuhl, the oldest of Niederbuhl’s sons, spoke of their family’s arrival in Saranac Lake from Brooklyn. The cause? Like many an origin story in this village — tuberculosis. John’s grandfather, Arthur’s father, contracted TB and traveled to Saranac Lake for the cure, eventually bringing up his family to raise them in Saranac Lake.

Arthur Niederbuhl was a veteran of World War II, taught mathematics at the short-lived St. Pius X High School here and, along with his wife Norma, owned and operated Norman’s Wholesale Grocery in Bloomingdale, which had been in her family.

“‘Well,’ he said, ‘I was lucky. I was just lucky.’ A lot of the things in his life he said he was just lucky,” John said. And when I look around and think ‘Was he lucky?’ He was because I see the people here who are here to honor him … and he made some of his own luck working with respect with other people.”