For many of the speakers at the September 17 dedication ceremony of what is now the Maurice D. Hinchey Post Office in Saugerties, the former Congressman is remembered as much for his personality and grace as for any of his many political accomplishments.
Hinchey had remained, said Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, “a kid from Saugerties, and the last thing a kid from Saugerties would want would have been his name on the Post Office wall.” However, he acknowledged, “it’s on the outside now, so that’s a really good thing.” Cahill apologized to those who would be looking for sad remarks, saying, “I can’t do that about Maurice…He made us all a little bit lighter; he made us all a little bit happier.”
Cahill also recalled the times he and Hinchey had campaigned together, as he pointed out members of the audience by name as people who would remember those campaigns. He cited some politicians, like Saugerties Councilman Paul Andreassen, Steve Auerbach, Congressional candidate Antonio Delgado and [developer] Steve Aaron, for “civic engagement, caring about the community and dealing with the environment and doing the right thing.”
Speaking on behalf of the family, Congressman Hinchey’s daughter, Michelle, said “we are so happy to be here today for this incredible honor for our family and just to know we have three generations of Hincheys here today, which I think is incredible. My father cared very much for the Hudson Valley, but this town had a special place in his heart; it could be felt in every passing conversation.” She thanked Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Congressman John Faso, for their work in getting the legislation passed to rename the post office. And she thanked the officials in the U.S. Post Office who brought the gathering together. “My father would be very honored and humbled for this honor, and our family will cherish it for generations,” she said.
The immediate family includes Maurice Hinchey’s wife, Ilene Marder Hinchey, his sons, Josef and Maurice S. Hinchey, his brothers, Michael and John, his sister, Patricia Hinchey and four grandchildren.
Hinchey served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 through 2012, and before that in the State Assembly, from 1975 to 1992. He died November 22, 2017 of cancer.
Congressman Faso, the House of Representatives sponsor of the law which authorized the name change of the Post Office, joked that the while he had postal officials together, they should discuss renaming the post office in Port Ewen. “We can work on those constituent issues; Maurice would have liked that.”
Faso noted Hinchey’s wife, Ilene, and all the family members at the ceremony. He recalled that the congressman had been a champion of the environment, the Hudson River, protecting our veterans, and protecting our seniors. He recalled that despite their being on opposite sides of the aisle, “we had ferocious debates in the state Assembly from time to time, but everyone — including me — always respected Maurice for his integrity, for his dedication and for his commitment to our principles.”
Saugerties Village Mayor William Murphy said he “is a boy from Saugerties who grew up here knowing the legacy of Congressman Hinchey,” and he noted his family members and the congressman were friends. His first experience with Hinchey was in a baseball game, where “they were short a player, so they asked me to play.” Though at the time, he was just Mr. Hinchey, “but to this day, my office still feels the effects of what he did for Saugerties. With money, with grants, just in my time alone we’ve had new sewer systems, new water lines put in, a trickle down from when he was in office
While Congressman Hinchey had connections across the region and the country, “he was first and foremost was a member of our community,” said Supervisor Fred Costello. He recalled his father “tells many stories of their growing up together; they went to school together and they maintained that friendship throughout their entire adult life.” Hinchey would always ask after the family and how they were doing, Costello said. “We always knew we had a friend in Congressman Hinchey, and if we needed help he was never more than a phone call away…His career has been inspiring to me.”
The Saugerties Post Office is part of a large district stretching from Hunter Mountain to Yonkers.
Richard Conte, the district manager, praised Hinchey’s commitment to the environment, which was evident in the New York State Assembly “and he continued that stewardship on a larger scale in Washington, chairing the environmental committee for 14 years…”
Conte also praised Hinchey, a Navy veteran, for his commitment to pro veteran policies.