John Tusch, former Penn Yan mayor and former Yates County Legislator, died Sept. 23, 2008.

The Yates County community lost a political and environmental leader Sept. 23 when John Tusch, 88, died.

Tusch, who came to the Penn Yan community in 1959 had been involved in local, statewide and national organizations for many years.

As a chiropractic doctor, Tusch touched the lives of many in the Penn Yan area, but his dedication to service leaves a legacy of his strong commitment to making his community a better place for everyone to live in.

He was a trustee on the Penn Yan Village Board from March 1963 to April 1967 and Penn Yan Mayor from 1967 to 1975. He was a Yates County Legislator for six years, from 1972 to 1976. He served as vice chair for four years.

His political involvement spanned more than 30 years as a Yates County Republican committee member. Eight of those years he served as chairman of the committee.
“If anyone could have the title of Mr. Republican, it would be John Tusch,” commented Jack Clancy, current chairman of the Yates County Republican Committee.

He also was a Republican State Committeeman from Yates County and a delegate from the Seventh Judicial District, was the chairman of the Benton Republican Committee and served as Yates County Coroner for about 12 years.

“He spent his life working ceaselessly for the Republican Party and he was an advocate for many causes,” added Clancy, who described Tusch as a “Teddy Roosevelt” Republican because of his environmental interests.

“He is going to be missed,” said Clancy.

While he worked hard in the political arena, Tusch’s heart was always in the great outdoors. He was a lifetime member and past president of the Keuka Lake Chapter of the Izaak Walton League (IWLA) and past president of the state division of the IWLA. He also served on the national board of directors of the IWLA.

Other environmental causes included the State Fish & Wildlife Management Board, S.C.O.P.E. and the Yates County Federation of Sportsman’s Club.

Mary Ellen Morgan says he dedicated himself to the Penn Yan Rotary Club for several years as well, serving as president from 1979 to 1980 and serving on the board of directors.

He was named the Rotarian of the Year in 1975 and was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow in 1991.
She said he put a lot of effort into being the master-sergeant-at-arms for the club and was instrumental in organizing the Dady Brothers Concert sponsored by the club.

In the past, he was a member of the state Fish and Wildlife Management Board (FWMB), vice chair of the Region 8 FWMB, a member of the Yates County Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs, director of the American Wildlife Research Foundation, member of the Open Space Advisory committee, Yates County Water Resources Alliance Committee and the Environmental Advisory Committee of the Keuka Outlet Trail.

He also was a member of the Penn Yan United Methodist Church, Penn Yan Rotary (past president), Elks, Masonic Lodge, Grange (past master and executive committee member), Yates County Chamber of Commerce (two terms as chair).