Richard J. Lake, 87, Watertown

WATERTOWN, NY — Richard J. “Dick” Lake, 87, of Jewell Drive, Watertown, passed away Feb. 1, 2022, at home.

Mr. Lake was born Nov. 22, 1934, in Watertown, one of six children of Robert J. and Blanche Harriman Lake. Richard was a lifelong resident of Watertown, NY.

Educated in the neighborhood school system, he graduated from Watertown High School in January 1952. Dick immediately went to work at age 17 as a mail supply clerk for the Agricultural Insurance Company. He served the insurance business for over 40 years, retiring from the Harleysville Insurance Company of Pennsylvania as vice president of Personnel/Administrative Services in 1996.

Dick met Devona (Debbie) Fillmore at the Agricultural Insurance Company. They married on Nov. 30, 1957, at Hope Presbyterian Church in Watertown and had two children. They served both in the insurance business and in the Watertown community for the remainder of their lives together until Debbie’s death on May 2, 2011.

Dick was a member of First Presbyterian Church for decades. He served as a deacon, elder, choir member, and representative to the Presbytery of Northern New York.

He was a board member of Jefferson Community College, Hospice of Jefferson County, United Way, and the Orchestra of Northern New York. He volunteered with the orchestra as an usher, with Watertown Urban Mission, and was a regular American Red Cross blood donor.

After losing their spouses, Dick and Phyllis Elmer, also a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church, married on Oct. 7, 2012. They created a meaningful life together full of time and celebration with family, travel, and the grace found in daily companionship. Phyllis provided exemplary care and support during the challenges of Dick’s last years.

Dick was known for his decadent desserts. His pies and cakes would generate several bidders at the church auction. He was very generous with his treats, giving them to friends and neighbors, even baking by special request. It had become a tradition for Dick and his grandchildren to guess the secret ingredient with new recipes, as recently as this past Christmas.

In addition to his parents, Dick was predeceased by a sister, Eileen Hinman, and two brothers, Robert Lake, and Ronald Lake.

He is survived by a sister, June Downs, Oswego, NY; a brother, Raymond Lake, Simi Valley, CA; his wife, Phyllis, Watertown, NY; his two daughters, Cheryl E. (James Phelan) Lake, Rochester, NY, and Cynthia A. Lake, Cortland, NY, Deborah Elmer (Gordon) Shroufe, Lyons, MI, Gerald (Karin) Elmer, Merrimack, NH, Leanne Elmer (John) Herrmann, Atlanta, GA, David (Michele) Elmer, Watertown, NY; eight grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, at First Presbyterian Church with The Rev. Dr. Andrew Long officiating. The funeral service may be viewed by live stream at

Arrangements are with D.L. Calarco Funeral Home, Inc.

Online condolences may be made to

Contributions may be made to Hospice of Jefferson County, 1398 Gotham Street, Watertown, NY 13601 or to First Presbyterian Church, 403 Washington Street, Watertown, NY 13601.