CANTON — Emotions ran strong Friday afternoon as friends, family and former colleagues gathered for the unveiling of a portrait of former County Clerk Mary Lou Rupp in the very office she was running until she lost her battle with cancer seven months ago.
The St. Lawrence County Clerk’s office was packed as County Administrator Ruth A. Doyle stood before the cloth covered portrait, addressing the room, prior to the unveiling,
“Seven months and seven days have passed since she departed our company for the last time,” she began. Her voice was stifled slightly, as she, like so many others in the room, fought back tears, among them, Mrs. Rupp’s husband, William, who was bookended by their grandchildren, Conner Boone McArdle, 6, and his little sister, Cora, 3, throughout the unveiling.
Some of Mrs. Rupp’s longtime employees lost their battle with the tears.
“We’ve spent time grieving, continued sharing our stories and mourned her loss,” Mrs. Doyle read from a prepared statement. “We miss our colleague and friend daily, but I’m pleased that Bill has agreed to share her beautiful portrait with us, and by his own estimation, the one that got her elected. The smile he gets when he talks about her, captures her perfectly and the effect she’s had on him and on all of us.”
It was Mrs. Rupp’s genuine warmth and gentle way of dealing with others that Mrs. Doyle said was inspirational and will always be a beacon to guide those that gathered in challenging times.
“And it is from that perspective that the Board of Legislators expressed great interest in displaying her portrait, our county clerk, for all to cherish, and as a token of appreciation for our absent friend and selfless leader,” Mrs. Doyle said. “Her sense of service to others, in whichever form it took, has been noble and continues to encourage us all.”
Mr. Rupp said his wife considered those she worked with as an extension of her family.
“You know, other than her family, this was her life. She loved working here,” he said. “She would come, right up to the end, when most people wouldn’t have been able to get out of the house and she was still coming to work.”
He added that she would have been pleased that her Deputy Clerk Sandra W. “Sandy” Santamoor, who has also been acting county clerk since Mrs. Rupp’s death, was elected to succeed her on Tuesday.
“She believed in Sandy and Sandy was a true, loyal servant to her over the last seven years, so I’m sure she’s pretty happy with that outcome,” he said. “They all have her watching them over their shoulders now, so it’s pretty cool.”
Abbie McArdle, Mrs. Rupp’s oldest daughter and mother of the two grandchildren who were present, said seeing her mother remembered in this way was touching.
“It’s very humbling,” she said. “She was a very humble person herself and she would probably say it was undeserved but she really did deserve it. She was a very good person to everybody, meant a lot to everybody.”
Mrs. Santamoor was another of the people close to Mrs. Rupp who fought back tears throughout and after the ceremony.
“It’s a little emotional. We miss her every day. I’m constantly thinking, ‘what would Mary Lou do,’” she said, remembering her friend and former boss. “She just had this contagious laugh and she would laugh when she was enjoying herself and she was so much fun when she was like that. She taught me so much. She had quite a drive. She loved her job. She loved the county. I don’t know anybody out there who didn’t love Mary Lou.”