Atty. James P. "Jim" Lay, III, 74, of Fairview, passed away Friday at the Cleveland Clinic. Born in Erie, May 13, 1936, he was the son of the late Dr. James P. and Ann Willoughby Lay, II. He graduated from Strong Vincent in 1953 and attended Penn State Behrend. He earned a Bachelor of Science from Penn State main campus in 1957 and had the honor of being in one of the first law school graduating classes at the University of Pittsburgh, earning his LLB in 1960. Jim joined the Army, serving from 1960 to 1962 and served in the Army Reserves until 1964. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar Association on March 18, 1963; was Special Assistant Attorney General, 1964-1971; was a member of the Erie County Executive Committee, 1989-1992; (President Elect, 1994; President, 1995) and Pennsylvania Bar Associations; Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association; Pennsylvania Association for Justice, (Member, Board of Governors, 1978-1992); the American Association for Justice (Member, Board of Governors, 1990-1992); NW Pennsylvania American Inns of Court (Vice President, 2001-2002; President, 2003-2004). He was selected as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for Personal Injury during 2006 and 2007, and Fellow American College of Barristers. He was a partner in the Gifford, Lay & Steele Law Firm and later established Lay Law Firm. He was a member of the Kahkwa Club and the Erie Club Jim was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Shirley Lay and his mother-in-law, Evanette Long. Surviving are his loving wife of 28 years, Darlene Long Lay; his children, daughter Duryea "Dee" Gette and husband Dr. Richard Gette of Fairview and their four children "dearly loved by Papa" (Chelcie - Gabby â€" Richard James "RJ" â€" Lexie); son Todd Lay & wife Thao, of Katy, Texas; also survived by three sons David Lay, Erie, Jeff and Judy of Erie and James P. Lay of Annapolis, Md.; and two grandchildren, Bryan and Karlee; two sisters, Gay Kline, husband LaVerne, Volant, Pa., and Victoria Desta, husband Frank, of Huntsville, Ala.; his father-in-law, Rev. Walter T. Long, Erie; his in-laws, Walter and Mary Ellen Long, McKean; William and Martha Lambright, Erie, and Daniel and Marjorie Bowden, Charlestown, S.C., and several nieces and nephews. Also survived by his dedicated secretary of 40 years, Agnes Billisits, of Erie In his personal life he was a passionate fan of Penn State, loved Big 10 football. He enjoyed travel and planning road trips, especially his annual trip to Florida with his loving wife. Jim was also an avid reader, often finishing a book within a week. He loved the holiday season, preparing Thanksgiving dinner with his wife, and surprising his family with gifts on Christmas Eve. He always contributed to a needy family during Christmas. He was a dearly loyal and dedicated friend to all that knew him and Jim loved music and was a supporter of the Erie Philharmonic. He believed in higher education and would provide funds for many seeking a college degree. He looked forward to spending time at hunting camp with his buddies. He enjoyed completing electrical projects as a hobby for himself and others. He was proud of his accomplishment of transforming the Jarecki Mansion on West 6th Street into the Lay Law Building, acting as general contractor, along with Laughlin Builders. Even with his busy professional schedule, Jim was a proud supporter of his grandchildren's many activities. He said he had become a "groupie," following his granddaughter Chelcie Gette's singing career. He never missed a Fairview H.S. football game or his grandson RJ's basketball games and Lexie's dance recitals. He was passionate about the field of law, working up to seven days a week for his clients and always took time to help other attorneys. In his younger years, Jim was a competitive swimmer for Strong Vincent H.S. and worked as a lifeguard at Presque Isle State Park during his college years. He played basketball for Penn State Behrend, and later in life competed in sailboat racing at Erie Yacht Club; he also enjoyed golf. Jim will be sadly missed by family and friends. "WE LOVE YOU JIM." A scholarship will be dedicated for Penn State Behrend in his name. Calling hours at Brugger Funeral Homes & Crematory, LLP, 1595 West 38th at Greengarden, Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. with special hours for attorneys and the bench Tuesday from 4 to 5:30 p.m.; and Wednesday from 2 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. Calling Thursday from 10 a.m. until the Funeral Service at 11 o'clock at Erie First Assembly of God, 8150 Oliver Road. Rev. Larry Albanese will officiate. Interment at Laurel Hill Cemetery with full military honors. Condolences at www.bruggerfuneralhomes.com
Memorials are suggested to the James P. Lay, III Scholarship Fund at Penn State Behrend.
Published by Erie Times-News from Aug. 29 to Aug. 30, 2010.