Posted in Real Estate Roudup: Hope Is Born from Tragedy | Top news

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The end of April was a sad time for realtors in Northern New York. We lost four people in four days. However, from these gray clouds, silver overlays remained.

On Sunday, April 25th, I received word that longtime contestant Janet Handshu-Amiot had lost her battle with cancer. Janet, 57, a Heart Homes broker since 1999, has been a member of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of REALTORS® for 30 years and has served on various committees, as well as the association president and past REALTOR® of the year. She was also a member of the St. Lawrence County Council of REALTORS® for 20 years and a founding member of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® Tri-County Network when it began in 2008. Later she was its president. Janet has also been voted “Best Producer” by the network on several occasions. She was active in her community and church.

As I sat and thought about Janet and her contribution that Sunday morning, as well as her infectious smile and the devilish sparkle in her eyes, I thought this week would be a tough one for our co-workers and staff. Little did I know.

On Wednesday afternoon, April 28, tragic events took place at Bridgeview Real Estate Services when brokers Terry O’Brien and Maxine Quigg were killed by Barry Stewart, who was also a real estate licensee. Barry subsequently committed suicide.

As a result of all these deaths, spouses, children, siblings, parents, friends and colleagues grieved. What have the rest of us lost because of this?

Both Terry and Maxine have served on various committees of the Board of REALTORS, investing their time and energy so that our members can better serve the community. They created a real estate agency where agents support each other both professionally and personally. In addition, both were supported by the surrounding community.

Maxine has served on the board of the Watertown Memorial Flower Library, the YMCA, and the Northern New York Community Foundation. All of this helps to make our community a better place.

Terry dedicated his time to children’s sports and helped shape and develop our next generation. He strove to make our community stronger, one child at a time. He also volunteered and helped plan the annual Northern Country Going Green Festival in Ireland.

The events frightened and saddened not only realtors, but also the general public. It also brought out the best people in the area.

By Thursday morning, brokers and agents from other companies had come forward to offer support, office space, an ear to listen, and a shoulder to cry on. I have heard from participants who talked about how Maxine or Terry helped them, gave them advice and were great to work with. Terry and Maxine have always emphasized honesty, ethics and education.

Death also touched a wider area. Starting Wednesday evening and continuing into the following days, I heard from real estate colleagues across the state and country. The staff and management of the New York State Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® reached out to the Jefferson-Lewis Council and Bridgeview and offered support, advice and assistance in a variety of ways.

On Saturday, May 1, the City of Watertown organized a picketing that was attended by many people working in the real estate industry. It was broadcast live on WWNY TV7 and aired online on Watertown Station and NBC. Many people in the state and nation listened to it.

All of the above are examples of love and support from local residents and beyond. Although we still mourn the loss of life, it is gratifying to know that so many were touched by the tragedy and asked for help. I hope we remember not only those who were taken away from us too early, but also their legacy of giving, their kindness and their values. It will be a ray of light in the dark cloud of the last week of April.

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