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Schmitt Remembered at Funeral

Photos and article by Jason Molinet

Lois Schmitt tightly clutched the crucifix from the casket of her late husband, Nassau Legislative Majority Leader Peter Schmitt. On the other arm was daughter, Samantha. 

They solemnly stood side by side as Nassau County’s power brokers came to pay their final respects at Schmitt’s funeral mass Monday at St. Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa.

Schmitt, 62, a Republican fixture in Nassau politics, died of an apparent heart attack Wednesday, moments after walking into the office of Nassau Executive Edward P. Mangano.

Mangano, who followed Schmitt to the hospital and had the grim task of calling his wife, called it a “very bad day.”

“He’s never going to be replaced. He’s was an institution, a fixture and always there,” said Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford, who gave the eulogy.

And while Mangano and others spoke very personally about the Legislative Majority Leader and his legacy, it’s clear Schmitt’s loss will have an even greater impact on the fate of several issues now before the Legislature. 

“It creates a deep void in the Legislature and Nassau County government,” Mangano said. “Peter was the kind of guy you thought would be there forever, quite honestly. He was a very dedicated public official, spoke his mind, adhered to his principles and was a strong advocate for the people of the 12th District.”

There will be a special election Nov. 6 to fill Schmitt’s seat, the 12th Legislative District, which serves Massapequa. Legis. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, D-Hempstead, said the void creates a deadlock of nine Democratic and Republican members at a critical time. The 2013 budget looms as does the county’s $45 million deficit.

“We need to make sure we’re working together,” Abrahams said. “There’s an opportunity and a greater need.”

For one day, at least, there were no factions. Nassau politicians were united to grief. After the service, a large crowd followed the hearse on foot one quarter mile down Merrick Road to Old Grace Cemetery, where Schmitt was laid to rest.

“Although very often we would disagree on policy on the floor of the legislature, there was never a time that we didn’t have a cordial, warm, friendly relationship,” said Legis. Judy Jacobs, D-Woodbury. “I knew both sides of Peter Schmitt and I’m here because I’m heartbroken.”

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