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March 27, 2010

Reporter's Notebook: Scruffy memories of St. Mary's priest

Tales about the late Rev. Paul Roman wouldn't be complete without stories about his dog, Scruffy, two St. Mary's parishioners agreed.

Scruffy was a retriever-sized, "Heinz 57"-variety dog with long, beige hair, said Jo-Ann LaMonica of Oneonta, a parishioner of St. Mary's Church.

``I was the No. 1 baby sitter for Scruffy,'' LaMonica said.

When Roman traveled, she took care of Scruffy, she said, and after the dog died, she met the priest at a truck stop to give him the dog's ashes. Roman buried the ashes at a camp in Broadalbin, she said.

Roman, a priest at St. Mary's Church in Oneonta from 1989 in 2003, died Monday. He was 73.

Grace Allidi of Oneonta said she used to go to Mass early in the morning and leave her dog in the car.

After Mass, she would take Scruffy and her dog, Nikki, a Samoyed, for a walk to Wilber Park, where she would let them run unleashed. During one venture, Scruffy ran off and couldn't be found, Allidi said.

``What do you do if you lose a priest's dog?'' she asked. She returned to the church about a half-hour later _ without the dog.

``I had myself in a tizzy,'' she said. When she reached the building looking for Father Roman and expecting to utter a confession, she looked through glass in the door and saw Scruffy. Roman approached her with consoling words.

``Hey, what are you crying about?'' she recalled him saying, then, ``It's just a dog.''

Two state politicians support passage of a federal bill called Jason's Law.

A special state resolution encourages passage of a law in memory of Jason Rivenburg, a Schoharie County man, according to a recent media release by state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, and Assemblyman Pete Lopez R-Schoharie.

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