KINGSTON – In January of 1975, Maurice D. Hinchey was sworn into the office of New York State Assembly for the very first time. When he put together his initial staff, I was honored to be part of it. Nearly 43 years later, we mourn the passing of a leader of unparalleled compassion, unquestioned integrity and unbridled energy. During the intervening decades, Assemblyman, then Congressman Hinchey worked every day to improve the lives of the people he loved and served.
One of our nation’s early environmental leaders, Maurice authored, inspired and improved the laws that protect our land, air, water and health. He fought mobsters and chemical manufacturers when they poisoned or tried to poison the earth. He created the Hudson River Greenway and Historic Heritage areas, brought unprecedented attention to our beautiful Catskills and he helped start environmental Superfunds here in New York and all over the nation. In our House, the New York State Assembly, Maurice was more than a chair of the Environmental Committee, he was The Chair.
Though best known for his environmental leadership, Maurice D. Hinchey was an early champion of the modern women’s rights movement, universal health care, social, economic and criminal justice reform and much more. He was a leading, sometimes lone voice against unnecessary military incursions by our nation across the globe. Maurice stood shoulder to shoulder with civil rights freedom fighters and workers demanding fair treatment. The Champion we all longed for, he feared no giants and stood up to every bully, in politics, in business and in all of life.
Maurice inspired generations of political activism and gave voice to those who had been disenfranchised for decades. Unapologetically liberal, he became and remained the leader of the emerging progressive movement here in the Hudson Valley. His enduring legacy is the activism he inspired and still does. I remain grateful for the chance he gave me over four decades ago and for his mentoring, support and, most of all, friendship every day since.
This is a sad time, especially for the people of the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains and even more so for Ilene, Michelle, his sons, Maurice, Joseph, and all of the Hinchey family. While we will miss him, the spirit of our great leader, Maurice D. Hinchey will be eternal.
Rest in Peace.
Assemblyman Kevin A. Cahill