Mackenzie Hughes LLP mourns the passing of retired partner, Jay Wason, this past week. Mr. Wason practiced law in Syracuse for 60 years.
Mr. Wason chaired the firm’s Litigation Department for many years, was President of the Onondaga County Bar Foundation, Director the Central New York Community Foundation and Director of Syracuse Cablesystems. Mr. Wason was originally from Schenectady, New York.
In 1945 he enlisted in the U S Navy, where he served in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. Upon his discharge, he entered Syracuse University where he was a member of the Boxing Team, Cross Country Team, Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) and Phi Delta Phi. In 1981, Mr. Wason was a recipient of a Letter of Distinction from Syracuse University. He was a past winner of the Ernie Davis MVP Award, Orange Packer of the Year Award and President of the Varsity Club. He served on the Athletic Policy Board, was a Charter Member of the Ernie Davis Fund, contributor to the Student Athlete Fund and Stickman’s Fund and in 1986, Mr. Wason received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award.
Mr. Wason also was a proud supporter of LeMoyne College where he was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1982-1987 and the Board of Regents from 1973-1991. He was a Regent Emeritus and helped to found the Gold Wave which supports LeMoyne Athletics. LeMoyne presented Mr. Wason the prestigious Ignation Honorary Alumnus Award and Salt Terrae Medal.
Cazenovia College was also the recipient of Mr. Wason’s generosity where he supported the establishment of the Cazenovia Community Endowed Scholarship, the Library Endowment, the Equine Education Center, the Art and Design Building, the Jay and Martha Wason Endowed Scholarship and the Wason Family Archival Reading Room. He was Vice-Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees (1991-1993), Chair from 1993-1995 and a Trustee Emeritus. In 2009, he was awarded the College’s Distinguished Service Award. Steve Helmer, current Chairman of the firm’s Executive Committee, describes Mr. Wason as an eternal optimist whose self-effacing humor made him one of the most popular lawyers among clients, the bar and judges throughout the region.
Despite his incredible courtroom success, he remained modest and an inspiration to all attorneys practicing with him. Mr. Wason’s passing is a significant milestone in the history of the Mackenzie Hughes firm and his impact on the firm and the Syracuse legal community will never be forgotten.