CHAUMONT — Jacquelyn Finch Schell and Michael W. Schell, Independence Point, observed their 50th wedding anniversary on Aug. 30.
Mrs. Schell, daughter of Robert and Eleanor Finch, and Mr. Schell, son of Virginia and the late William Schell, were married on Aug. 30, 1969, at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, Binghamton. Jacki was raised in Binghamton, and Mike was born in Utica, and raised in Rochester and Fairport. The couple met as students at Ithaca College, where Jacki received a degree in speech pathology and audiology, and Mike a degree in communications.
Their wedding was presided over by their college chaplain, the Rev. William “Pop” Graf. The bride’s sister, Nancy, was maid of honor, and the groom’s brother, Skip, was best man.
As newlyweds, the couple moved to Washington, D.C., where Jacki taught in Prince Georges County Maryland public schools and at Prince Georges Community College. Mike served in Congress as legislative aide to Congressman Sam Stratton while earning his law degree at Catholic University Law School. Their first of five daughters, Amy, was born in Washington.
They wanted to return to upstate New York to raise their family and decided in 1974 to accept employment in Watertown, where Jacki was hired as a speech therapist for the Watertown City School District, and Mike began his legal career with Giles, Maloney, Marsh, Clary and Swartz, in the Sherman Street office he would work in for the next 30 years.
Their family expanded with the birth of Julie in 1975, the arrival of twins Mandy and Carey in 1978, and Kate in 1979.
Both became involved in local politics. Mike served as Jefferson County Democratic Chair in the mid ’90s, and founded the Democratic Rural Conference, a caucus of upstate political leaders. He served as executive chair of the New York State Democratic Committee in the late 90s, and represented New York on the Democratic National Committee. Jacki was a member of the New York State Democratic Committee for more than 20 years and a member of the state executive committee. Both represented the North Country at Democratic National Conventions. They hosted a number of officials at their home, including the First Lady of the United States, the Governor of New York, a future governor, the Lt. Governor and the state Comptroller. Mike was a member of the Electoral College in the disputed presidential election of 2000.
Jacki was elected to the Watertown Board of Education in 1983 and served 15 years, including five years as school board president. She has been a board member and officer in many local boards, including the North Country Community Foundation, North Country Children’s Clinic, Herrings College Board, SUNY Oswego College Council, WPBS Public TV board, Lyme Community Foundation and the statewide board of the New York State Coalition for School Based Health Care.
She worked at the Sci-Tech Center as education coordinator in the ’90s, teaching science to pre-schoolers and conducting seminars for teachers.
Mike practiced law with the Giles firm until 1984 when he helped form Maloney, Schell and Eisenhauer. He was active in the Jefferson County Bar Association, serving as president in 1988, and receiving the association’s community service award in 1994. He retired from law to become senior advisor to the governor of New York state (first Spitzer, then Paterson) in 2007, retiring from government in 2011.
The Schell family became involved in minor league baseball in 1988, as Mike helped lead the effort to bring minor league baseball back to Watertown in the form of the Watertown Indians, which he would serve as team president. He was named Executive of the Year for the New York Penn League at the 1989 Winter Baseball Meetings. Currently, Mike is co-owner of the Watertown Rapids collegiate summer baseball team, which he helped form in 2017.
The family has now grown to include five sons-in-law, Amy and Jerry Lapora, Cave Junction, Ore.; Julie Schell and David Rubinson, Haddonfield, N.J.; and Amanda and Edward Moore, Carey and Andy Parody and Kathryn and Brian Barry, all of Rotterdam; and 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.