May 5th, 2023
Gregory James Lago, a very clever man, was good at many things: husband, father, grandfather, brother, man of action: overt/covert, wood engraver, sculptor, painter, outdoors man, athlete, Senior Warden, back porch Sage, Buffalo Bills fan, and Merry Prankster. He passed away early on Friday, May 5 th after celebrating his 74 th birthday with friends and family the evening before.
Greg is survived by his wife Karen, daughters Ulea and Ruth, grandson James, brothers Daniel and Brian, sister-in-law Cindee, niece Emily and nephews Ben and Tyler, and dog Jacques.
Lago was born in North Tonawanda, NY, along the Erie Canal, to Sue and Roswell Lago. Captain of the football and track teams at Royalton Hartland High School, and active in high school theater productions, Greg was jovial and outgoing from the start. He joined the Army in 1968 to see the world and seek adventure and was sent to Vietnam. Greg, an expert
marksman whose pace count and land navigation skills were dead on, served as a Forward Observer assigned to the Blue Spaders of the Big Red One, calling in target locations for artillery strikes from the field. He rose to sergeant during his service and was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor and two Purple Hearts.
After returning from the war, Greg attended Buffalo State on the GI Bill where he rowed crew, was landlord for a building on Connecticut Street that housed what became a band of brothers, and studied art where he met his lifelong friend and mentor, Frank Eckmair, who taught printmaking. When Eckmair passed in 2012, Greg named his workshop The Frank Building in his honor.
Greg spent the next few years taking cross country trips to Arizona and down Ruby Road with friends before moving to the north country where he resided until his death. Greg met his wife Karen at O’Brien’s and always claimed he knew she would be his wife from the moment he laid eyes on her. They were married in 1977 and built their home together on House Road. Neither had built a house before, but with the help of friends they managed a house that remains standing to this day.
Greg was an artist from birth, drawing on paper towels with his older brother Danny as a child. While primarily a wood engraver he was an accomplished sculptor, painter, and graphic illustrator. His work has illustrated numerous books and was exhibited in major galleries in the United States and Great Britain. Creativity, tinged with a wry wit and grounded in a deep knowledge of art, music, and history, infused everything Greg did, from patching his Carhartt jacket, leaving abstract images on any surface that made itself available, to running a small
business. Greg’s work can be seen across New York’s North Country in homes, galleries, and museums, from shop signs and public art to furniture and framed pieces on the wall.
He worked as an Illustrator (civilian) at Fort Drum for over a decade where his knowledge of military regulations allowed him to provide helpful advice to the officers involved with his assignments. In 1997 he left to take over the small business he built with his wife, Winged Bull Studio on James St. in Clayton. Called the “unofficial Mayor of Clayton” by Chris L. Brock, writer for the Watertown Daily Times, Greg was a not to be missed element of the small town, often using the gallery space that housed his Vandercook Press to create new works while visitors flowed in and out.
Greg will be remembered as a generous, patient, and supportive mentor to many local artists. He served on the board of the Thousand Islands Arts Center, where he also taught classes and showed his work. In 2021 the Arts Center offered a tremendously successful months long one-man exhibition of his work. He was a founding member of Fibonacci Art Gallery, an artist’s collective that is now located on the Square in Watertown, NY. He was a member of the Society of American Graphic Artists and The New York Center for the Book Arts.
Greg’s funeral will take place in Clayton, NY on Tuesday, May 16 at 11am at Christ Episcopal Church with a reception immediately following at The Clipper Inn. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Christ Episcopal Church or the Thousand Islands Arts Center. Arrangements are entrusted with Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Clayton and online condolences to his family may be posted at www.cummingsfuneral.com.
I am fortunate to have several pieces of art from Greg.
My favorite is from "dot-dot" era. It is the point of
Of Round Island". I never acquired any of his sculpture s.i would appreciate know about any of his art . We also had any common our VN experience. I will miss seeing Greg at the River this summer. Ted Drum 954-931-3225
Greg was a very outstanding person, a smile on his face
He always stopped to say hello!
He will be sadly missed and never forgotten!
To the ladies of his life and love; Karen,Ruth, and Ulea cherish your sweet memories. And to his beloved James I am sure you know what a great guy your grandpa was.
Never enough time
Kevin Larkin, Seneca SC by way of Adams NY
I Enjoyed EVERY conversation I had with Greg Lago
never frivolous talk , always engaging in a non offensive way and he taught me something with each encounter.
Greg what I knew of you is that you chose to live life in each day that was given to you …and when it wasn’t .
I will miss you Greg
Ulea, Ruth , James and Karen may you find comfort in all that you created and shared what a beautiful family
Rest in peace my friend
The Neveu Family