Former U.S. Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, a longtime Democratic congressman from the Hudson Valley, died Wednesday. He was 79.
He had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, or FTD, his family announced in June amid the debate over repealing the 2010 health care law.
First elected in 1992, Hinchey represented parts of New York’s Southern Tier, as well as Poughkeepsie and other parts of the Hudson Valley in Congress for 20 years, before retiring in 2013. He was a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.
“Congressman Maurice Hinchey passed away peacefully at his home in Saugerties this afternoon,” his family said in a statement Wednesday, according to The Poughkeepsie Journal. “He was a beloved statesman, and cherished for his work in the community and nationwide.”
Hinchey’s FTD diagnosis came after he overcame colon cancer. The disease causes nerve cell damage and leads to loss of function in brain regions.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer recalled on Twitter that he had known Hinchey since the two served together in the New York state Assembly in the 1970s.
“ ‘Mighty Moe’ as I used to call him was a man of great conviction, principle, endless energy & rare legislative ability,” Schumer said. “He cut a unique figure throughout the Hudson Valley & the Southern Tier & was passionately committed to the environment & to preserving that region’s priceless open & wild spaces. He will be sorely missed.”
“Maurice Hinchey had a distinguished and notable career representing the people of Ulster county in the state Assembly and his constituents in Congress during his 20 years of service in the House of Representatives,” U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook said in a statement.
“Maurice was a fierce defender of the environment and left an important mark on New York State from his years as Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Conservation. He also served our nation honorably as a member of the United States Navy.”
"I served with Maurice in the state Assembly and knew him to be an articulate and dedicated proponent of the causes he believed in and the people he served," Faso said. "My condolences to his wife Ilene and his family. May he rest in peace.”