I was born in Hibbing, Minnesota on Christmas Day, December 25, 1931. My early childhood was spent in Sioux Falls, South Dakota until my family moved to the East in 1941. We lived in Tonawanda, New York, where I graduated from St. Francis of Assisi Grammar School in 1945 and in 1947, my family moved to Syracuse, where I attended the Christian Brothers Academy. I graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in 1949 and was a member of the National Honor Society. In 1999, I participated in the Golden Jubilee of the CBA Class of 1949.
After attending LeMoyne College in 1949 for one semester, where I was the freshman class student government representative, I transferred to the University of Notre Dame and enrolled in the College of Engineering. I graduated from Notre Dame in 1953, with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. I attended the 50th Class Reunion in June of 2003.
After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, I was a patent examiner in the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C. from 1953 to 1956 while attending Georgetown University Law School, where I took a degree of Juris Doctor in 1956. I served briefly in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and in 1957, I returned to Syracuse and initially began the practice of Patent, Trademark and Copyright Law. In 1964, I joined the law firm of Hancock, Dorr, Ryan & Shove, which ultimately became Hancock Estabrook LLP. I became a partner in that firm in 1968 and specialized in the area of real property valuation actions and proceedings. I tried several multi-million dollar cases over the years in both the field of real property tax assessment review proceedings and eminent domain actions. During this career, I became a well-known practitioner in the field of real property valuation proceedings and published articles in that field and lectured to Bar Associations and Appraisal Associations in the field of real property valuation. I was admitted to practice law in Virginia, New York, and Florida and was a Life Fellow of both the American and New York State Bar Associations. I was also active in the Onondaga County Bar Association and State Bar Associations, where I participated in and chaired eminent domain and tax assessment committees.
I was a patron of the arts in Skaneateles and Syracuse and was active in community affairs and was a member of the University Club of the University of Notre Dame and The Army Navy Club, in Washington, D.C.
I was a lifetime downhill skier, skiing locally, starting at Drumlins and then at Labrador Mountain for over 60 years. I skied at all of the major western United States ski areas and for many years hosted an annual ski vacation for my children and grandchildren in Aspen, Colorado. In addition, I skied in a number of European ski areas in Switzerland, Italy, France, Sweden, and Austria. I was a member of the Over 70 Ski Club.
I was an inveterate traveler and traveled with my wife Judy Varney to all of the continents, including Antarctica and also traveled throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. I was an avid bridge player and my hobby in later years was woodworking and furniture making.
I was active in Democratic party politics and worked as the Upstate Legal Coordinator in the campaign of Robert F Kennedy until Senator Kennedy’s assassination in June of 1968. Thereafter, I chaired the Onondaga County Committee to Elect Paul O’Dwyer to the United States Senate and was active in the campaigns of many local elected Democratic officials. Three of my children, Christine, Kevin, and Molly, served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. At one point, all three were working in the Clinton White House.
I am survived by my wife Judy Foster Varney and six children; Christine A. Varney (Thomas Graham) of New York City, Mark W. Varney of Fairfax, VA, Brian T. Varney (Nittayaporn Chaiyakham) of Arlington, VA, Kevin P. Varney (Betsy Hildebrandt) of Washington, D.C., Jacqueline M. McKone (John McKone) of Arnold, MD, and Molly M. Muldoon (Robert Muldoon) of Severna, MD; and nine grandchildren; John Graham (Jenny Graham), Michael Graham, Molly McKone, Julia Varney, Colin McKone, Ryan Muldoon, John Benjamin Varney, Jack Muldoon, and Owen Muldoon. My first marriage to Mary Theresa Walsh, who predeceased me, ended in divorce.
Jack will be missed by all who knew and loved him, his many nieces, nephews and cousins from California to Ireland who adored him. A celebration of Jack’s life will be held at a future date.
Contributions in Jack’s memory may be made to the Skaneateles Festival, 97 E. Genesee Street, Skaneateles, NY 13152.
To send condolences visit: robertdgrayfuneralhome.com.