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Article Published November 2, 2016

David LaMay’s Legacy of Giving Back

Becky Coffey, Senior Staff Writer

When David LaMay was growing up in Old Saybrook, he learned from his father and grandfather and from the behavior they modeled that it’s important to give back your talents and time to your community.

“If I can help in some way and add value through volunteering, it’s worth doing it,” says David.

And in that belief, he is part of the legacy of service to this community that started with his grandfather.

David’s grandfather, Irving J. LaMay, was one of the charter members of the Old Saybrook Volunteer Fire Department. David’s father, Irving C. LaMay, in turn followed in his footsteps, also becoming a volunteer firefighter with the department. So when David’s job change moved him from New Haven to Essex, he too decided to become a department volunteer, getting training and his state certification for Firefighter I and II.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, from 4 to 6:30 p.m., David will join other Fire Department volunteers as a cook at Firemen’s Field preparing the pasta meals for HEAT’s annual Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser. Joining him in the kitchen that day will be former Police Chief Ed Mosca and Ron Baldi, president of the volunteer fire company. Proceeds of the charity event go to provide heating assistance to town families and individuals in need.

“I like helping people,” says David.

David first learned his way around a commercial kitchen as a youth. At age 15, he worked part-time as a dishwasher at Dock & Dine restaurant at Saybrook Point. About 10 years later, he worked part-time there again, this time as a line cook. That was a long time ago and before his many years of college and graduate education.

Today, David’s career is working as a financial professional with Essex Financial Services—he is a certified financial planner and certified private wealth advisor. Even though this job keeps his days full and busy, when the Fire Department calls, he responds.

“When the page goes, if I’m available, I will respond and help,” says David.

David decided about a decade ago that he could contribute his talents as a financial advisor to help oversee the Town of Old Saybrook’s finances. It’s a belief he shared with his grandfather, Irving J. LaMay, who also served the town as a citizen volunteer and chaired the Old Saybrook Board of Finance. Like his grandfather, for the past seven years, David has held that same leadership role, chosen by his own peers to chair the Old Saybrook Board of Finance; when chosen to be chairman, he’d already served on the board as a citizen volunteer for several years.

As David explained, the role of the Board of Finance is to review the town budgets.

“We try to put together a responsible budget that serves everyone in town. It’s important to create a balance of services in the spending plan,” says David. “We’re fortunate in Old Saybrook that departments act responsibly and our mill rate is low compared to other towns—we try to keep it that way.”

One budget innovation of the last few years that he praises, implemented by First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr., who served as chair of the Board of Finance before David, is the new reserve fund which is built through annual contributions as part of the town budget. This savings account can then be tapped by the town when needed to pay for unexpected capital maintenance projects on town buildings and facilities.

“The infrastructure of the town is in good shape, although there are always updates and maintenance needed,” says David. “Our school facilities and programs are great, too. They do a great job.”

For the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2016, the Town of Old Saybrook ended with nearly a $700,000 surplus that was returned to the general fund.

While David now pursues a career in financial advising and as a volunteer oversees the town’s finances, this path was not obvious when he was a youth. When he graduated from high school, he went to Middlesex Community College and earned a degree in communications-video production. His first job after graduating was making commercials for cable television.

That then led to his next move, working for ESPN in technical operations. It’s where he met his wife Linda, but also where he discovered that his real career interest lay in the work done by the network’s Program Finance Department; workers in that group would go to sporting event venues and determine the cost for ESPN to produce an event there. He was interested in working for that group, but was told he’d need a degree in finance. So he left ESPN and moved to New Hampshire with his new wife; he sold broadcast equipment during the day and went to school at night, earning a bachelor’s degree in finance at Franklin Pierce University.

When he returned to Connecticut, ESPN now said it was only hiring MBAs for finance and budget work, so he went to work as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch in New Haven during the day and worked part-time for ESPN back in technical operations. At night, he took classes to earn an MBA at the University of Connecticut; he got his MBA in 1999.

He never did join the ESPN Program Finance group, but pursuing that led to his years of education and a 25-year career in finance. Seven years ago, David moved from the New Haven Merrill Lynch job to a position closer to his hometown of Old Saybrook as a financial advisor with Essex Financial Services in Essex.

An in keeping with the maxim “when you need a job done well, tap a busy person to do it,” David also for the past eight years has taught an Introduction to Finance course at Albertus Magnus College at night and, in a new responsibility added this year, became part of the Middlesex Hospital Philanthropy Council.

David has deep roots in Old Saybrook and praises it as a great town to grow up in and a great town in which to live and raise a family. His grandfather and his brother founded LaMay Brothers, which later became Saybrook Ford. His grandfather later split off from the auto business to start the local LaMay Construction Company, which he ran until his two sons, one David’s father, took over until they retired, during the 1980s.

“We do enjoy living in Old Saybrook. My wife volunteers at The Kate, we have kayaks, we walk by the water, . It’s a great town,” says David.