This year's Spirit of Ianelli Award goes, posthumously, to North Country media icon Gordie Little.

The Mayor's Cup Regatta and Festival Committee announced its choice today, saying Little exemplified "the same 'community does matter' spirit that inspired Plattsburgh Mayor John Ianelli 38 years ago to co-found the Mayor's Cup Regatta.

The award was established in 2010 in honor of Ianelli and empowered "our lake community to thrive, not only on race day, but every day," a press release from the committee said.


Sunrise Rotary’s Mayor’s Cup Co-Chair Joanne K. Dahlen said that choosing Little as this year’s honoree was an easy decision. 

“We only wish we had the opportunity to present Gordie the award in person and not posthumously,” she said in the release. 


Little died on June 22, a week after his 79th birthday. 

Tilling the garden at his Morrisonville home with a rototiller, he for reasons yet unknown fell backwards from a steep bank and into the Saranac River.

He was found in the water, and efforts to revive him failed.

Rumors have been circulating around Little's tragic demise, Clinton County Coroner David Donah said, among them that he suffered a heart attack or some other medical event.

But the coroner does not expect full post-mortem results for several weeks.

"It takes 60 days from start to finish," Donah said of the toxicology and histology studies that must be completed. "We don't want to make a preliminary statement and have to go back and say it was wrong."

There are times when results are released quickly, even within a day, for people who have died, for example, in an auto accident.

But those are preliminary findings, the coroner emphasized.


Three pathologists handle post mortems, along with day-to-day pathology work, at University of Vermont Health Network, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, Donah explained, with most done in-house.

Toxicology studies, however, are sent out to National Medical Services, he said.

"And if they have to send anything else out, they do."

All of that takes time, the coroner said. And pathology for living patients must take precedence.

As for Little's results, he said, "I will try to get this out as soon as I can."


Little, whose voice first took to local radio airwaves in 1961, worked for WIRY Radio for almost 55 years before he changed careers, serving for another eight as a crime victims advocate for Clinton County Probation Department.

Since 1997, he hosted "My Little Corner" on Home Town Cable, interviewing local folks. And for years, he wrote the column "Small Talk" for the Press-Republican and more recently authored another for Denton Publications.

Little's wide smile and bearhugs enveloped friends and strangers alike, and they flocked to his Facebook page.

"If somebody had met him 25 years ago, (that person) expected Gordie to remember him, too," said Home Town Cable's Calvin Castine.

"There was an instant personal attachment."

Little was also honored during the City of Plattsburgh's July Fourth parade on Monday.


The Spirit of Ianelli Award Ceremony was originally scheduled to take place after the Mayor’s Cup Regatta BBQ on Saturday, July 9. 

However, the Mayor's Cup Committee has changed the time and location of the ceremony because of, the release said, "the unique nature of this year’s award recipient."


“There has been an outpouring of emotional support for Gordie Little and his family since his sudden death,” City of Plattsburgh Mayor James Calnon said in the release. 

“We want to give the entire community the opportunity to pay tribute to Gordie with a moment of silence," he said.

So that event will take place, with Little's wife, Kaye, and daughter Diane Wright, onstage to accept the Spirit of Ianelli Award on his behalf, at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 9, before the free, outdoor concert at the MacDonough Monument Bandshell at City Hall Place.