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Lee Hirschey

January 20, 1936 ~ May 24, 2018 (age 82)

Lee Hirschey died peacefully on Thursday, May 24, 2018 at The Glenridge, Sarasota, Florida. Lee was born in Watertown, NY to Alice and Charles Hirschey, January 20, 1936. He attended local schools and graduated from Manlius Military Academy secondary school in Manlius, NY. He attended Dartmouth College and graduated with a five year, Masters of Business Administration degree in 1958. His career started in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania working for Container Corporation of America as a shift supervisor in their folding carton division. Soon after, he returned to the family business, Climax Manufacturing Company in Castorland, NY. Lee held various positions including Shift Supervisor, Purchasing Manager and Manufacturing Manager. Lee was promoted to President and in 1971 became CEO. For over 48 years Lee and his brother, Urban Hirschey, ran Climax Manufacturing. They retired upon the sale of the company in 2008. Lee was known and respected by all employees and was known for his acumen, expertise and personal approach to business. Lee believed that people were the Company’s greatest asset and treated all with value and respect. He strove for fairness when balancing the diverse and divergent needs of the business and concluded “he knew he succeeded when both parties were equally dissatisfied.” Lee lived his life dedicated to Northern New York, building the communities and charitably supporting local charities. He always believed that giving locally had a greater impact than other regional and national organizations. He shared his talents with local organizations and boards. His early attention focused on the Carthage community. He was soon elected to the Carthage School Board, followed closely by the Carthage Area Hospital board. He also was involved with the Carthage Branaugh Memorial Boys Club and instrumental in transitioning it to the Watertown Family YMCA so the facility could still benefit Carthage residents. He expanded his focus to the tri-county area when he joined the boards of the Development Authority of Northern New York, Northern New York Community Foundation and Pratt Northam Foundation. As a prominent local businessperson he also served on the boards of Knowlton Specialty Paper, Community Bank, NA, and Excellus BCBS. After moving to Chippewa Bay, NY in 2000, he focused on preserving the regions heritage and legacy as an active board member of The Antique Boat Museum, The Frederick Remington Museum, and the Nature Conservancy. Lee was also a very active member of the Young Presidents Organization which took him around the world sharing business opportunities and challenges. Personally, Lee had many interests and enjoyed many adventures. He was an avid sailor starting as a child at Lake Brantingham and as an adult on Lake Ontario, the Eastern Seaboard and the Caribbean. He participated in numerous Race Weeks in Antigua and even cruised the South Pacific. He spent most of his life skiing at Snow Ridge and often returned to his favorite destinations, Stowe, Vermont and Aspen, Colorado. His greatest skiing achievement was Helicopter Skiing in the Bugaboos. Lee also enjoyed hunting birds. He was a lifelong fixture at Carpenter Point Hunting Club in Wolfe Island, Ontario as well as traveling frequently to Georgia and Argentina. While he loved the relationship with nature, he felt the comradery of hunting with friends and family provided the greatest reward. His proudest recreational achievement was completing the New York City Marathon with his wife, Debby, in 1981. Lee is survived by his devoted wife of 42 years, Debby Bryant Hirschey, Sarasota, Florida; his children Charles Dixon Hirschey (Julie) Champion and Sarah Hirschey Miller, Watertown; step-sons Todd DeVito, (Greenville, NC), Darren DeVito (Bradenton, FL); and grandchildren Kelsey DeVito, Ian Miller and Collin Hirschey. He is also survived by his loving brother, Urban Hirschey (Sally), Cape Vincent, as well as sister Lisbeth Hirschey (Don), Glenfield. He was Predeceased by his sister Judith Brooks, Florida. Arrangements are with the Cleveland funeral home. Calling hours will be held Thursday June 21st from 4-7. In lieu of flowers we welcome donations to the Lee Hirschey Memorial Fund at The Northern New York Community Foundation 131 Washington Street, Watertown, NY 13601 or to your favorite local charities.


Donations may be made to:

Northern New York Community Foundation
131 Washington St, Watertown NY 13601
Tel: 1-315-782-7110


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