Maurice Hinchey, who served 39 years in state Assembly and Congress, dies at 79

Congressman Maurice Hinchey, seen here with a medal presented to him by The Netherlands. (Photo by Dan Barton)

An era passed with the death of former assemblyman and congressman Maurice Hinchey, 79, on Wednesday, Nov. 22. Hinchey, who served for 38 years in elected office, was diagnosed with a terminal neurological disease last spring. He underwent colon cancer surgery in 2011.

A lifelong Democrat, he retired from Congress at the end of 2012 after 10 terms. He served nine two-year terms in the Assembly where he was chairman of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee.


Supreme Court-elect judge Julian Schreibman, a former county Democratic chairman, called Hinchey’s retirement an “extraordinary loss” to the county.

“Simply put, we are all better people for having known Maurice and are eternally grateful,” said county executive Mike Hein in a statement. Hein called Hinchey his “dear friend and mentor” in the statement.

A native of New York City, Hinchey’s family moved to Saugerties in his youth. He graduated from Saugerties High School and SUNY New Paltz.

Hinchey served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee for most of his terms in office. He was succeeded in congress by Republican Chris Gibson of Kinderhook. In a post on Twitter, Gibson hailed Hinchey for his “passionate and dedicated” service.

Republican Rep. John Faso, who succeeded Gibson in 2017, issued the following statement:

“Maurice Hinchey had a distinguished and notable career representing the people of Ulster County. 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 as an articulate and dedicated proponent of the causes he believed in and the people he served. My condolences to his wife Ilene. May he rest in peace.”

“I’ve known Maurice since we’ve served together in the Assembly in the 1970s,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer wrote in a statement. “‘Mighty Moe’ as I used to call him was a man of great conviction, principle, endless energy and rare legislative ability. He cut a unique figure throughout the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier, and was passionately committed to the environment and to preserving that region’s priceless open and wild spaces. He will be sorely missed.  My sincerest condolences to his family.”

Funeral arrangements are incomplete, but Hinchey is expected to be buried at the Catskill Interpretive Center in Mt. Tremper which he championed in the Assembly and which is named for him.

Hinchey, who lived in Saugerties at the time of his death, is survived by his wife Ilene Marder, whom he later remarried, and their daughter Michelle. He is also survived by his sons Joseph and Maurice which he had with his first wife, the late Erika Hinchey.


There are 2 comments

  1. JamaicaonHudson

    First, condolences to his family, friends, and former constituents. As a college-kid, I spent a semester interning for Rep. Hinchey at the Kingston office. He was always “down-to-earth” and seemed to legitimately care for the district and its residents. I think that’s why he was admired by so many people (regardless of political affiliation). For some reason, he always reminded me of this area’s Adam Clayton Powell; in an era full of politicians, Maurice Hinchey was a statesman.

    He will definitely be missed.

  2. TheRedDogParty

    I first met Congressman Hinchey in his Washington DC Office in 1992. He had just arrived to serve his first term in the House of Representatives, I was in Washington on an Arts Administration Fellowship with the National Endowment for the Arts.

    His office door was open, and there he was, in his office.

    We continued to cross paths over the years, I think most residents of Ulster County had a personal relationship with the Congressman.

    And that was how Maurice was, open and welcoming, and always willing to engage with his constituents on the issues. We all miss you, rest in peace.

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