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November 30, 2017


 

 

 

Hundreds mourn Maurice Hinchey at Saugerties funeral

Mourners file into the church for Hinchey 's funeral

SAUGERTIES – Several hundred loved ones and admirers paid their last respects to the late Maurice Hinchey, former Hudson Valley congressman, at a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated Wednesday morning at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Saugerties.

Hinchey, 79, died Wednesday, November 22 after a long struggle with Frontotemporal Degeneration, a rare neurological condition. His 38-year political career was marked by success in championing environmental issues, among many other progressive and liberal causes.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill was among the many mourners at Wednesday’s services, which also included Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, and Ulster County Executive Michael Hein. Cahill said in a statement that he was honored to have served on his predecessor’s Assembly staff, calling Hinchey “a leader of unparalleled compassion, unquestioned integrity and unbridled energy.”

Hein called Hinchey an extraordinary leader and courageous individual, who we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude towards.

“I firmly believe that he is an example for every elected official,” Hein said. “His life and legacy has wonderful lessons for each and every person, and that is caring deeply about your neighbors.”  

Elected to the state Assembly in 1974, Hinchey was the first Democrat from Ulster County to hold that seat since 1912, remaining for the next 18 years, including 14 years as chairman of the Environmental Committee. There, he was instrumental in exposing the Nation’s first toxic and radioactive superfund site, Love Canal.

Beginning in 1992, Hinchey served 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was noted as the most liberal member of Congress. Among his many achievements was helping to establish the Walkway Over the Hudson. He was widely beloved among constituents for direct accessibility, both personally and through his staff.

Hinchey retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with cancer. His congressional seat, long gerrymandered to include Ithaca, redistricted lines towards Kinderhook after Hinchey, and has remained in Republican hands ever since.

Best friend and personal attorney David Lenefsky delivered an extended eulogy. “If each of us were asked to say one word that best describes Maurice, the one single solitary word that comes to mind, when we think of him, I dare say, hero. My Maurice, our Maurice, was our hero, was he not? No matter how you define the word, always questioning, always doing battle.”

Officiating at the ceremony, Father Bill Woodruff recalled Hinchey’s final moments last week, while administering last rites at his bedside, as the former congressman lay dying in a coma. “His face became peaceful and serene. Maurice knew that I was there. He knew why I was there, and he knew that I was there to commend him to the loving arms of God.”

Hinchey was laid to rest in a private ceremony on the grounds of the Catskill Interpretive Center that he championed

 


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