Wallace P. Beardsley Jr., a man who left a visible impression on Auburn and many other central New York communities, died Sunday at the age of 87.

Beardsley permanently shaped the Auburn community through his work at the South Street architectural firm that eventually became Beardsley Design Associates and through his service on a number of public and private boards.

He joined his father and brother, James Beardsley, at the firm as a draftsman in 1949 and continued working there for 40 years, eventually becoming director and partner of the company.

James Beardsley died in December at the age of 90.

During his tenure, Wallace Beardsley designed a number of Auburn's schools and government buildings, from the original Board of Cooperative Educational Services building — the first in the state — to the 160 Genesee Street office building that still serves as the seat of county government.

Beardsley's wife of 65 years, Marylin Aikman Beardsley, said he was deeply dedicated to the city where he was born and raised.

"He really liked Auburn," she said Tuesday from her Ithaca home. "He was born there and went all through school there. It was very special to him and he volunteered in many things."

Beardsley followed in his father's footsteps as chairman of both the city and county planning boards, ushering the community through urban renewal in the 50s and 60s.

He served on the boards of the Neighborhood House, the Cayuga County Red Cross chapter, the Auburn Chamber of Commerce and the Seymour Library.

Stephen Erskine, longtime director of the Seymour Library, said Beardsley was a great friend, whom he considers directly responsible for the library's longevity.

"When I came to the library in 1970, Wally was the secretary of the board," Erskine said. "After about a year, Wally sensed that I was getting frustrated, I wasn't making much headway on building improvements, so he came to me one day and proposed that we draw up plans to present to the board.

"I always felt a tremendous amount of gratitude to him for what he did. He was instrumental in moving that building forward and making the Seymour Library what it is today."

Erskine said Beardsley's kindness is the reason he decided to stay on at the library until his retirement in 2007.

"I'm sorry to hear that he's gone," he said. "What he did for me is only one of the many kindnesses that he was responsible for."

Staff writer Nathan Baker can be reached at 282-2238 or nathan.baker@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at CitizenBaker.


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