One’s memories of Jake LaBate tend to be tilted by the generation from which you were born. Us baby-boomers remember today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant as the guy you didn’t want to see if you were trying to sneak a day off from classes at Lynch High School or Roosevelt Junior High. As Truant Officer of the Greater Amsterdam School District, there wasn’t a pool hall, lunch room, local beach or favorite partying spot that this guy was unaware of.
But if you were from Jake’s generation, you remember him as a superb schoolboy basketball player, who led the Amsterdam Varsity Hilltoppers in scoring in 1948. He then went to Siena, where he teamed with fellow Amsterdamians; Ralph Fedullo, Tony Fabozzi and Chuck Northrup on some great basketball teams.
And it really didn’t matter when you were born to remember how long, how hard and how well this guy competed on the tennis courts around town and in the “City Rec” and “Over 30” basketball leagues. Everyone who knew this Korean War veteran liked him. Jake and his lovely wife Rita were married for 44 years and her death in 2010 was very tough on him. The youngest of the Amsterdam LaBate brothers then passed away three years later. To borrow an old cliché, Jake LaBate was a class act.