North Hills village trustee Gerard Cohen, 66, who was elected to a full term Tuesday night, died suddenly Wednesday evening.
"He went out in a blaze of glory, that's all I can say," said Gail Jeffee Cohen, his wife of 21 years. She said he was "over the moon" about winning the election.
Mayor Marvin Natiss said he and the village administration remained in shock Thursday.
"It was very sad," Natiss said. "Here he was elected on Tuesday night and we were all happy -- and [Wednesday] at 8:30 at night, we're all crying."
In August, Cohen, who went by "Gerry," was appointed by Natiss to serve the remainder of a vacant term.
On Tuesday, Cohen, along with incumbent trustee Dennis Sgambati, defeated challenger Roberta Popper for four-year terms. According to unofficial results, Cohen had received the most votes for trustee. Natiss, who was unopposed, was also re-elected.
Born in Long Beach, Cohen graduated from Oceanside High School, his wife said. He became a film editor and was a pioneer in computer graphics and the transition from film to tape, she said. He had served on various co-op and homeowner association boards for decades.
A village resident since 1991, Cohen and his wife opened a self-storage facility in New Hyde Park in 1997.
He first got involved with the village as a representative on the boards of Public Access TV and the North Shore Cable Commission. Because of his previous career, "that tickled my interest," he said in a recent interview.
Sgambati said, "I'm very upset that something tragic like this happened." Cohen "put a lot of work into what he was doing and accomplishing and we're all going to miss him."
Natiss said that in the last phone conversation he had with Cohen on Wednesday, Cohen said, 'I'll see you tonight,' " referring to a public hearing. But Cohen didn't attend the meeting and his colleagues found out what happened when they tried to call him and reached his wife.
In addition to his wife, survivors include his mother, Marie Cohen, and a sister, Sheila Bykofsky, both of Tamarack, Fla.; a daughter, Bambi Elayne Cohen, of Durham, N.C.; a son, David E. Cohen, of East Meadow; and one granddaughter. Funeral arrangements were pending as of Thursday afternoon.