Bob Lawless has a friendly, optimistic view on life and a true appreciation and love for the community of Saugerties. Lawless has lived here since 1956, when his father came to work with IBM. While he holds degrees in secondary education in both chemistry and math and a graduate degree in computer science, many Saugertiesians will know him as Mr. Lawless, math teacher and dean at the junior high school math teacher. Lawless worked in the Saugerties school district for 35 years and currently resides in the village with his wife.
What makes Saugerties unique?
The people and the location. My wife and I, we are both retired, we could go anywhere but there is something about Saugerties that I just really like. I love the people. There is a certain friendliness to the people here.
No matter where I go, I can run into someone to talk to. I can go to Mirabella’s for dinner or Cantine Field to catch a game and I can always count on a good conversation. It’s also great to run into past students. Some of them I see frequently and sometimes I run into someone I haven’t seen in 20 or 25 years. It’s very cool.
In terms of the location, Saugerties is just really central. If I want to go into the city, it’s two hours. If I want to take a trip to the Jersey Shore or up north to Lake Placid, it’s not too far.
What are some changes that you’ve seen in Saugerties through the years?
One of the major changes I’ve noticed was in 1993-1994 when IBM moved out, there was a serious lack of jobs. That has held on for awhile. I’ve noticed that things are starting to pick up a bit, but I’d really like to see some sort of industry move into the area. That’s always something that will generate a good economy.
It’s still a decent place to make a living, though. I was very happy to raise my kids here. I’d love for them to still live here but because of their chosen professions there really aren’t any jobs for them here.
What’s the biggest issue Saugerties needs to address?
While this doesn’t really affect me, I would say the old Dragon Inn. I know there is history to it, but I feel like most people only really remember it as the Dragon Inn and it’s becoming an impediment to development.
Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met here?
Well, certainly the most famous would be Jimmy Fallon. I didn’t have him in class, but I was the dean so I knew most everyone. He was a great kid. In fact, I would say the majority of the kids I dealt with were great kids, many of whom went on to do very well for themselves.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Bartender. Mainly because of the social aspect. I wouldn’t want to take a job from anyone, though, so I think I’d be a great back-up guy to fill in if they needed help.
What’s your favorite virtue?
Honesty. I like to know what I’m dealing with. I don’t like to hear when people are talking about others behind their back. I also don’t like to hear about people being ripped off.
Do you have any heroes?
My mother. She had a tough childhood but she always did what was right, especially for her kids. It was all about us kids for her. She was also a lot of fun to be around.
For which fault do you have the most tolerance?
I think I am most tolerant of kids making mistakes. Understanding that they are kids, and it happens. As a dean, I saw a lot of mistakes, and I was called many names and I was not always their favorite person. I knew not to take things personally. It’s nice to see those kids change and to come around to a more acceptable way of expressing themselves.
What’s your idea of the perfect Saturday?
Well, I actually just had one a few weeks ago. We got in the car, drove to Tarrytown and spent the day with our granddaughter. My daughter, son and daughter-in-law were there, too. We did see some amazing Christmas decorations and Santa Claus. It was perfect to be able to spend the whole day together.