James F. Tongue

1940 - 2021

COOPERSTOWN – James F. “Jim” Tongue, a true man about town and well-respected Cooperstown businessman who for many years owned and operated The Cupboard on Main Street, passed away following a struggle with Alzheimer’s disease Tuesday night, June 15, 2021, at his home on Walnut Street with his beloved wife and best friend, Barb, his daughters, step daughter and sister-in-law at his side. He was 80. 

Born June 19, 1940, at Memorial Hospital in Catskill, James Frank Tongue was the second son of William Frank Tongue and Beatrice Catherine (Miller) Tongue. In 1953, Jim and his family moved to Cooperstown where his parents established The Cupboard, which fast became a staple of Main Street life as a well-known newsstand, gift shop and stationery store which Jim would later own and operate. The family settled into their home on Old School Court, and Jim’s outgoing personality quickly made him a welcome part of the 8th grade. Throughout his four years at Cooperstown High School, Jim was a popular young man who excelled in sports as a member of the Varsity basketball, baseball and football teams. He was also a member of the Varsity “C” Club and, known for his impeccable appearance, was listed as “Best Dressed” in the Who’s Who of the Class of 1958 (a trait that would follow him his entire life, as evidenced by his many closets of clothes!) Jim truly enjoyed his years at Cooperstown High, and remained a dedicated Redskin his entire life. 

Following graduation, Jim enrolled at SUNY Cobleskill, graduating from there with an associate’s degree. He returned to Cooperstown and joined his parents at The Cupboard and become a well-liked member of the community. To say that Jim loved Cooperstown would be an understatement. His easy-going and likeable personality made this “man about town” the person everyone wanted to be around. 

Jim’s happiness in life truly became evident and flourished when he met the love of his life, Barbara A. Ballard. Jim and Barb were married June 27, 1998, in the backyard of their home on Walnut Street, and they became not only husband and wife, but also best friends. Never one to miss a good party, Jim enjoyed many fun times with Barb and their friends at such venerable Cooperstown establishments as The Pit at The Tunnicliff Inn and The Pepper Mill. Jim and Barb enjoyed the simple pleasures in life together, such as long walks around the village, and he came to appreciate Barb’s fondness for the Adirondacks, enjoying many trips to Lake Placid, Old Forge, and the family camp at Inlet. 

Jim will fondly be remembered for being always impeccably dressed and for his manicured yard at his Walnut Street Home. Always the sportsman, Jim’s athleticism carried through to his adult years as he enjoyed softball and bowling. Golf, though, was his true passion, and he played countless rounds as a member at the Leatherstocking Golf Course and enjoyed meeting up with his golfing buddies every morning for coffee. In addition to his love of sports, Jim was very community-minded, and through the years was a member of the Cooperstown Lions Club, Rotary Club, Native Sons, and American Legion Squadron 579. He was also an instrumental part of the Cooperstown Winter Carnival in its formative years. 

Jim truly led a life well-lived. All those whose lives he touched will miss him. 

Jim is survived by his beloved wife and best friend of 32 years, Barb Tongue, of Cooperstown; his daughters, Karen V. Lange and husband, Victor of Northville, and JoAnne C.“Joby” Iovoli and husband, Louis of Mendon; five grandchildren, Alexander Lange and wife, Donna, Catherine Lange and fiancé Christopher, and Nicholas Lange and fiancé, Victoria, and Madelyn Bradt and Michael Bradt; a great grandson, Parker Lange; and a stepdaughter, Hillary Bass LaDuke and her son, Caleb James Rosa. He is further survived by his older brother, William C. Tongue and wife, Nancy of Fairport and their family. 

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his first wife and mother of his daughters, Sally Patton Sanford, who died February 11, 2019. 

Special gratitude goes out to devoted friends Keith and Kay Additon, and to the many health professionals who were instrumental in providing such wonderful home care for Jim until the time of his passing. 

Family and friends gathered for a service to honor Jim’s life at 4 p.m. Friday, June 18, 2021, at the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown, with the Rev. Betsy Jay officiating. Immediately following the service, all gathered at the Leatherstocking Golf Course Clubhouse for a time to reminisce and celebrate Jim’s life. 

For those who so desire, memorial gifts may be directed to the following local organizations: The Cooperstown Fire Department, PO Box 1, Cooperstown, NY 13326; The Cooperstown Emergency Squad, PO Box 322, Cooperstown, NY 13326; and The Cooperstown Food Pantry, 25 Church Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326.

Arrangements were under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown.

If you would like to send condolences to the family, send an email to Connell, Dow & Deysenroth. We will forward your comments to the family. If you would like to send flowers in memory of the deceased, contact Mohican Flowers at (607) 547-8822, or A Rose is a Rose at (607) 264-3100.