By TODD WELLINGTON Staff Writer
The streets will be a little less tidy. The sidelines a little less complete.
Funeral services were held at St. Elizabeth & acute;s Church in Lyndon Wednesday for Archie P. Mallon, a former Lyndon Institute headmaster who spent his retirement years as a full-time fan of the school he once led, and of the village in which he lived.
Since returning to Lyndon from his native Chatham, N.Y., Mallon has been a ubiquitous presence at LI functions and activities, an ardent and constant supporter of Lyndon & acute;s young athletes, musicians and performers of every kind.
He became such a presence in Lyndon Center that despite having served his last day as headmaster 26 years ago, the school cancelled classes Wednesday afternoon to allow faculty and students to attend his funeral.
He was also well known in the village for doing his part to keep the streets clear of litter. Mallon, when taking his daily walk from his home at the Darling Inn on Depot Street to the Lyndonville Post Office, would carry a paper bag and pick up trash from the street and sidewalk along the way.
He was a bona fide institution at LI football games each fall. On game day, among the usual array of players, coaches, statisticians and media, Mallon would take his place along the home sideline, seated in his trademark folding chair.
"Archie was a fixture on our sidelines," said LI head football coach Dennis Sweet. "He was always very supportive, no matter what, through thick and thin. He was always there for us. We & acute;re gonna miss him."
"He was almost like a twelfth man," said another sideline regular, photographer Steve Legge of Sutton. "It will seem weird without him."
The players seemed to appreciate Mallon for his unqualified support as well. "He was our number one fan," said LI senior fullback Ben Johnson. Among those attending the Wednesday service were several Viking players attired in their football jerseys. In perhaps the highest tribute possible for Mallon, five LI football players - Conor Elms, Jeremy Wheeler, David Noyes, Billy Chamberlin and Johnson - acted as pall bearers.
"It was quite an honor for these kids." said Sweet. "For all of the guys in the program, we & acute;ve lost someone who & acute;s dear to us and dear to LI football."
Mallon & acute;s support extended beyond the football field as well. If there was a track meet, a baseball game, a play, a band concert - particularly one featuring LI & acute;s acclaimed jazz band (he was a tenor saxophone player and a member of the Lyndonville Military Band) - Mallon was usually in attendance. He was a regular at Lyndon Town School concerts as well.
His passion for the non-classroom school activities was evident during his time as headmaster 1963-73.
"He was a big supporter of all extra-curricular activities," said LI Director of Development Paul Wheeler, who was a student at LI during Mallon & acute;s tenure. "He thought extra-curricular activities were an important part of a well-rounded education."
His support was evident when then-physical education teacher and current LI Athletic Director Merlyn Courser approached him about expanding the athletic options available to LI girls.
When he became headmaster, girls had one choice of organized sport each season. There was field hockey in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring. "Everything else he let me start," recalls Courser, who would go on to establish girls teams in track and field, alpine and Nordic skiing, gymnastics and cross country running.
Both Courser and Wheeler remember a very hands-on Headmaster Mallon.
"It wasn & acute;t unusual to see him out on the football field Saturday morning getting it ready for football games or driving the The Viking (school) bus," said Courser.
"Headmaster, bus driver, field marker. ... He was involved in everything," said Wheeler. "I & acute;ve never known another headmaster or principal to be as involved with all aspects of a school as he was. He was very supportive of all students at every level."
Mallon continued to indulge his passions for LI and the Lyndon community until his final day. According to his daughter, Mary Macomber, Mallon picked up his last piece of litter - a carelessly discarded Charleston Chew candy bar wrapper - while attending an LI varsity baseball game Saturday.
Perhaps Jeremy Wheeler, a pitcher on the baseball team, summed it up best just prior to his pall bearer duties Wednesday when he said "It was good that he got to see one last game."