James M. Scala, 91
LENOX, Mass. — James (Jim) Mario Scala passed away at age 91 in Lenox, MA on January 29, 2021. He is survived by his sons James (Jed) Coulter Scala of Great Barrington, MA and New York City and John (Josh) Alexander Scala of San Francisco, CA. In addition to his sons, Jim is survived by his granddaughters Maria, Emma and Katarina, all of San Francisco, CA, and by his sister, Gina Bachner, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He was predeceased by his wife of 54 years, Lucia, who died two months earlier on November 18, 2020, and his brother, C. George Scala, who passed away in 2007.
Born on January 12, 1930 to Carmine and Mary (Ferlo) Scala, Jim was raised in Clinton, NY and spent his childhood with the many extended family members from the surrounding areas of Rome & Utica. As a teenager, he played varsity football and hockey at Clinton High School, sang in church and school choirs and always jumped at the chance to drive his mother around the countryside on her quest for antiques. Those trips, initially sparked by a teenager’s desire to get behind the wheel, ultimately fostered a life-long interest in discovering and collecting antiques. A number of the pieces purchased by his mother on those trips were treasured in our family home decades later.
When it was time to attend college, Jim “went-up the hill” to Hamilton, joined the Sigma Fi fraternity and was selected for the “D.T.” society, a high honor for a freshman, where the unofficial task was “to promote good fellowship on campus.” Jim continued his athletic pursuits in football and, as the seventh Hamilton College hockey captain from Clinton, became a high scorer of the era. The close of WW II and the GI Bill had brought “guys who had landed on the beaches” to the fraternity houses and bridge-playing card tables, where shared stories not only inspired Jim as a young 18-year-old freshman, but also created a large group of life-long friendships. Over the years, they would gather at the “Scala Gala” to tail-gait at the Hamilton/Williams football game, enjoy dinner together, and emerge for “Sunday School”—a Bloody Mary & bridge playing brunch.
Post college, and after a tour in the U.S. Air Force, Jim moved to New York City. An original “Mad Man,” he worked for Young & Rubicam advertising on Madison Avenue. He lived in a garden apartment on Bank Street in the west village, frequented the local haunts, and met his wife, Lucia, who lived a few blocks away on Perry Street. On their wedding day, in typical creative flair, he arranged for a horse drawn carriage from the church, down Fifth Avenue to The Plaza Hotel for a reception.
As his career progressed, Jim became the President of Y&R Canada, and always described the ten years in Montreal as a particularly special time, not only for the adventure it provided his family, but also for the number of lifelong friendships he made through the office. Jim liked to take risks on young talent and was a mentor to many budding executives, several of whom went on to have significant positions in the Canadian business world. Years after leaving Y&R, many former colleagues continued to come visit in the states, and kept in touch up until his last days, perhaps his greatest professional legacy.
In retirement, Jim purchased and ran the 1780 Egremont Inn in South Egremont, MA during the 1980’s. New Lebanon, NY became home thereafter, where he designed a new house (on a property he purchased over a beer in a local bar), and then embarked on a third career in “land management.” He and Lucia enjoyed cheering on their sons at ski races in the winter and taking friends to the Saratoga horse races in the summer, where they had a standing reservation at a finish line table.
Lover of all types of music, Jim spent the last hours of his life, with his son Jed by his side, listening to the dulcet tones of Mabel Mercer, one of his favorite jazz vocalists "who sang at joints I bopped around at in the village” during New York’s golden age in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Apparently, when the music stopped, so did he.
Jimmy was old school. Creative, yet opinionated. Gruff at times, but always with a quick smile that emanated from a sparkle in his eyes. He bellowed at good jokes, enjoyed playfully razzing old friends and strangers alike, collected quirky sayings, and of course he flirted… in the charming way only an older man can… with the barmaids and waitresses at the watering holes he stopped in for a “rinse”.
He will be missed.
In lieu of flowers, the family gratefully requests that contributions be made to either Hamilton College (https://www.hamilton.edu/alumni/give ), The Clinton Historical Society (https://clintonhistory.org/support/) or please contact firstname.lastname@example.org about a potential opportunity with the Clinton High School Hockey Team. To add to the Book of Memories, please visit www.flynndagnolifuneralhomes.com
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