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Nayman Inspired Many With Determination

Fire victim was active in local politics, Main Street presence for half century

Fran Nayman is pictured in 1978 when he was Albion town supervisor and a member of the Orleans County Board of Supervisors.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 December 2014
ALBION – He battled a stroke and other health scares, but Fran Nayman wouldn’t let those issues keep him down. He stayed committed to his customers and his community.

“The things he dealt with would have broken most people,” said Nayman’s friend Gary Kent. “He just pushed himself and kept going. He amazed me.”

Nayman was 76 when he died Friday in a fire at his shop. Nayman’s, a small engine repair business, was a presence on Main Street since 1959.

Nayman was active in local politics, serving as a village trustee, Albion town supervisor and an Orleans County legislator. He had been out of public office for about three decades, but Nayman stayed supportive in the background, encouraging candidates and offering advice and money for their campaigns.

That’s how Kent became close with Nayman, beginning in 2001 when Kent made his first run for public office. Kent grew to admire Nayman, especially his iron will. Nayman committed to physical therapy to improve his health so he could come back home after stays in an assisted living facility and also the county nursing home.

“It was a testament to his endurance,” Kent said.

Nayman graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology and retired as a engineer at RG & E. At Nayman's, he fixed small engines for lawnmowers, snowblowers and other equipment.

Even when he was limited to a wheelchair, he had friends drop him off at his shop so he could work.

“He died doing what he wanted to do,” Kent said. “There’s where he wanted to be.”

Nayman was a life-long bachelor. He quietly supported many civic causes and organizations, Kent said.

“His death is a big loss for Albion,” Kent said. “He could be counted on for a lot of things. He had a gruff exterior, but he was like a cupcake inside.”

Jeanne Crane, the Orleans County Democratic Party chairwoman, said Nayman took out many ads supporting Democratic candidates. He also opposed the sale of the county nursing home and took out ads stating his opinion on that sale.

His shop was in a prominent spot on Main Street and let both Democratic and Republican candidates put their campaign signs on his property.

He might disagree with local officials, but Crane said Nayman always took the high road.

“He was opinionated but I never saw him get angry,” she said. “He was so even-tempered.”

Crane worked with Nayman for about four decades in local politics, trying to build the Democratic Party. Nayman told Democrats they only had a chance at winning if they were committed to public service and a zealous campaign.

“He always used to say, ‘If you’re going to run, you need the desire to win or else you’re not going to win,’” Crane said.

Even as he struggled in recent years, Nayman sent Crane birthday cards and called at least monthly to check in on the Democratic doings. He wanted the party to be thinking early about fielding candidates for local elections.

“He was someone who was always in the background,” Crane said. “He was always there for us.”

Brad London sold Nayman his ads for The Lake Country Pennysaver. Nayman regularly took out ads in recent years, letting the community to know he was still in business.

“He was always optimistic about serving his customers,” London said. “I really looked up to him. He had a determination and drive.”

Nayman always ran a holiday ad in The Pennysaver, thanking his customers.

"The friendships we've made throughout the years have been our greatest pride," the ad would state. "Holiday greetings and thanks to all."