Peter Schmitt funeral attended by political giantsBy ANN GIVENS. AND SIDNEY CASSESE
October 8, 2012
Mourners at a funeral Mass for Peter J. Schmitt, presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, remembered him as a man who could fight fiercely for his conservative beliefs one minute, and still let down his guard as a neighbor and family man the next.
"No one fought harder for his constituents and for what he believed than Peter Schmitt," said U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), delivering the eulogy Monday at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Massapequa. "Yet when the fight was over, he could sit down, relax and share a laugh about it."
Schmitt, 62, died Wednesday morning of a heart attack during a budget meeting in County Executive Ed Mangano's office in Mineola.
His funeral was attended by dozens of Nassau political giants. Some were his political allies; others his political foes. Among those in attendance were Mangano, state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and Nassau Republican chairman Joseph Mondello.
"I knew both sides of Peter Schmitt, and I'm here because I'm heartbroken," said Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury), who found herself on the opposite side of many political battles in the 17 years they knew each other. "We often disagreed, but there wasn't a day we didn't greet each other cordially."
Dozens of mourners, from political leaders to thankful constituents, crowded into the Massapequa Park Funeral Home Sunday to pay their respects to Schmitt.
Flags will continue to fly at half-staff at county buildings through Tuesday in his honor.
Among those who paid their respects Sunday were State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) and Mondello, the Nassau Republican chairman.
"He was one of the most thorough, knowledgeable and frank people I've ever worked with," Hannon said. "This is a great loss for Nassau County and Long Island."
County officials have called for a special election Nov. 6 to fill the remaining two years on Schmitt's 12th Legislative District seat, which represents Massapequa, Massapequa Park and portions of Seaford and North Massapequa.