June 9, 1923 – Jan. 31, 2013
LOCKPORT – Wesley F. Arnold, a Lockport elementary school principal for 27 years and a Lockport town justice for 26 years, died Thursday in Niagara Hospice, Lockport, where he had been since Sunday. He was 89.
Mr. Arnold was active in many community activities as well as education and government.
“He was certainly a very amazing man, the kind of person who instantly made you feel like a friend,” Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith said. “It’s a sad day for our town, losing such a great man.”
Mr. Arnold was born in Geneseo and grew up in Avon, where he graduated from Avon High School in 1940. After two years at Geneseo State Teachers College, as it was then known, he entered the U.S. Navy in October 1942 and remained in uniform until June 1946.
During World War II, he entered the Navy’s V-12 program of college educations for potential future officers. His family said Mr. Arnold was the first man in the V-12 program to be commissioner a lieutenant in the Seabees.
After leaving the service, Mr. Arnold completed his education to be a teacher, graduating from Geneseo in 1948.
He worked in Selkirk, near Albany, as a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and then as a building principal before moving to Lockport.
After six years teaching sixth grade at Washington Hunt Elementary School in Lockport, Mr. Arnold became the principal of DeWitt Clinton Elementary School, a post he held for 20 years. After seven years as principal of Roy B. Kelley Elementary School, he retired.
Mr. Arnold became involved in local government when he was appointed to the town Zoning Board of Appeals in 1963. He later served five years as a town councilman before becoming town justice, a post he held for 26 years until retiring in 2003, at the age of 80.
His long list of community connections includes 60 years as a meber of First Presbyterian Church, where he served as an elder; 60 years as a member of Lockport’s Red Jacket Lodge, where he was a past master; membership on the board of the Lockport YMCA since 1966, including served as its president from 1974 to 1994; and service on the boards of the Niagara-Orleans Auto Club and the Police and Justice Executive Conference.
Mr. Arnold was an original member of the Kenan Center from 1966 to 1968, and took part in the planning for the center.
He helped form the Lockport Teachers Federal Credit Union and served on the board of the Lockport chapter of the American Red Cross. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons and the Lockport Shrine Club, and he was chairman of the Elks Club Scholarship Committee. He also was a charter member of the South Lockport Fire Company Exempt Association.
Mr. Arnold was an original member of the Lockport Clowns, which performed in an annual circus. His character was called “Duke.”
Working with Wayne C. Cardy, Mr. Arnold wrote a children’s book called “Fun With Next to Nothing.” He also was a painter, specializing in painting of wildlife.
Survivors include his wife of 67 years, the former Margaret “Etta” Gray; two daughters, Laurie Beck and Heather ; two sons, Christopher and Brian; 12 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in First Presbyterian Church, 21 Church St.