Heroes and Villains
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The Loomis Gang is on the rise again, this time in Maple Springs. But they’re not stealing horses, making counterfeit money or burglarizing homes like their distant ancestors did in central New York during the 19th century.
They’re taking care of their neighbors around the lake.
Bill Loomis, III, took over Loomis Landscaping after his father Bill’s sudden death in the fall of 2013. The four Loomis boys had all worked in their dad’s business as kids, and they’re a sentimental lot. They wanted to keep the business their dad started in 1970 in the family.
With a double major in finance and human resources management from SUNY Binghamton, Bill had worked in sales and marketing. At the time of his father’s death, he was shipping manager and customer service manager at Cummins, Inc.
When he took over the business, Bill took a big pay cut and a bigger risk. Since then, though, Loomis Landscaping has expanded forty percent, and Bill Loomis is happy.
“I’m proud to carry on my dad’s legacy,” Bill says. “And I’m happy when I wake up in the morning. My dad used to say if you do work you love, it’s not like work at all, and that’s how I feel about running Loomis Landscaping.
“My dad liked to work around here. ‘The closer to home the better,’ he’d say. And of course we have long-term customers and good friends here in Maple Springs and Bemus Point. But I like to work anywhere within a five-mile radius of the Chautauqua Lake shoreline. We’re doing jobs in Lakewood and beyond.”
The “landscaping” part of Loomis Landscaping does not really describe all the services that this company performs for customers around the lake. Of course they design and install commercial and residential landscaping, including tree removal, and they will maintain lawns and gardens.
They do spring and fall cleanup, mowing, weeding, mulching, and other lawn services customers might need. They design and install hardscaping, too, such as patios and walkways. They will paint, power-wash, provide attic, basement, or garage cleanout, and can provide housekeeping services.
“We plow snow in the winter,” said Bill. “I’ve tried to grow the winter services so I can keep people working all year.
“And like my dad did, we’ll really do anything. We open and close cottages for people, and have loads of keys. Our having extra keys has come in handy for a lot of people. We watch to make sure cottages are safe and secure. We’ve helped people load and unload their cars, and have even gotten groceries so when the owner arrived, the refrigerator was stocked. We strive to be full-service property managers and put people’s minds at ease.”
Around 1800, Bill’s distant forebears George Washington Loomis and his wife Rhoda settled in Madison County, NY, in the center of the state. It is alleged that Mrs. Loomis schooled her children in crime as she also saw to their formal educations. The oldest, George “Wash” Loomis Jr., was set to be a lawyer before he decided to be a sophisticated scoundrel instead. He was apparently an excellent horse thief and the ringleader of the Loomis Gang.
After the family diverged, Bill Loomis’s great great great grandfather, one Weymouth Loomis, struck it rich in the Pennsylvania oil fields with an invention integral to gas wells. The fortune dissipated over the generations, as fortunes do, but it seems that the brains stayed with the family. In addition to his SUNY degree, Bill is working with the Cornell University Cooperative to learn the best ways to manage the shoreline.
“We don’t use chemicals or fertilizer,” Bill said. “We don’t want to feed the weeds. We’re working on doing more plantings along the lakefront, and using native plants.”
Bill Loomis is again living in the house he grew up in. He loves his community and the beautiful lake we all share.
“I like to see things grow, watch gardens and parklands that we’ve planted fill in and become finished,” he said. “I want to have a hand in making this place more beautiful.”
In 1863, the Loomis Gang was wanted by the law, and at least one, Plumb Loomis, was caught and hanged.
These days, though, the Loomises are wanted for better things. They can be reached at 716-386-2605.
To read more of Beth Peyton’s creative and informative contributions to the Jamestown Gazette, please go to www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the picture to search our archives for more of the stories you want to read.