The oak desk is well used, the office small, and before you cross the threshold Barclay is already loping across the room to shake your hand. Smiling broadly, his white hair gleaming, he looks like a friendly uncle delighted to see you after all these years. As you settle into a chair, Barclay reaches over to pull out a little wooden tray set inside the desk on which you are encouraged to set down your notebook and coffee. |
In place of impressive awards and plaques hangs a wooden baseball bat with Barclay's name carved into it-a thank-you gift for his help in building a new stadium in Syracuse. On a shelf is a photo of one of his five grown children, his daughter Dorothy, standing in front of the Taj Mahal and holding a sign that reads "Thank you, Dad." Next you spy a picture of George Bush with an inscription wishing Barclay a happy birthday. Near it hangs a framed copy of Syracuse University's mission and vision statements.
As you scan the modest room you get the impression you're in a country lawyer's parlornot the office of one of the most influential men in New York State. And in a way, you are right. Barclay grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York. He was the seventh generation to live on the property since his family first settled there in 1807. He attended public school until seventh grade, when he transferred to St. Paul's, a private school, and then headed off to Yale. But a love of the wilderness and the people of New York's North Country would forever remain in his blood. |
After Yale, Barclay served for 18 months as an Army artillery lieutenant in Korea. Then he went to law school at Syracuse University. "I chose Syracuse," he says, "because I knew I wanted to live and work in the area for the rest of my life."
Relaxing with friends in a tavern one summer, he met Sara "DeeDee" Seiter. They married in 1959 and lived in Skytop student housing. Barclay closes his eyes and smiles. "It was great," he says. "Sometimes I wish we could live there again." |
Graduating in 1961, Barclay joined the oldest law firm in Syracuse: Hiscock, Cowie, Bruce & Mawhinney. Within seven years he became a partner. In 1984, the firm was renamed Hiscock & Barclay.
In 1965, Barclay planned to run for Congress, but when a state Senate seat opened up and the Republican Party powers asked him to run, he accepted.
"There are two ways to go through life," he says, sitting back in his office chair and speaking slowly. "One is to find a mountain and meditate, the other is to get into the mainstream, and I think I opted to get into the mainstream. People ask you to do things and you do them."