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Lewis County, N.Y.: DA, coroner jobs first combined in 1960

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LOWVILLE — Although Lewis County currently combines the district attorney and coroner positions, it hasn’t always been that way in the county’s 209-year history.

The positions were first paired 54 years ago — on Jan. 1, 1960. That’s when a state law — adopted at the request of the county board of supervisors with formal support from Lowville village trustees — eliminated Lewis County coroner spots held by Drs. Elbert Dalton of Beaver Falls and Louis A. Avallone of Lowville and transferred their duties to the district attorney.

The county had utilized two or three part-time officials to handle the coroner job before it was moved under the auspices of the DA. The bill’s co-sponsor, first-year state Assemblyman Dwight N. Dudo of Lowville, indicated in newspaper reports at the time that the two coroners favored the idea of the switch.

Mr. Dudo, a former county coroner, also noted that a similar bill had passed the Assembly in the 1930s but died in the Senate.

J. Robert Lynch, who became district attorney in January 1959, was in line to become the county’s first DA/coroner. However, in the fall of that year, he was elected to a state Supreme Court judge’s post. In 1960, his successor in the DA’s office, George R. Davis, became the first person to hold the dual post of district attorney and coroner.

Mr. Davis became a county judge in 1963, serving in that position for 20 years. He died in 2010 at age 91, and the Northern New York Community Foundation now administers a grant fund specifically for Lowville-area projects and programs in his memory.

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