Huntington school board member Adam Spector, a passionate advocate for families who helped restore the district's full-day kindergarten program, died Thursday after a four-year battle with cancer. He was 51.
Born and raised in Old Bethpage, Spector graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Plainview in 1980, the family said.
He earned a bachelor's degree in management science at Binghamton University in December 1985 and worked in information technology and financial services for nearly two decades.
A father of two, Spector was a self-described stay-at-home dad from 2003 to 2007 before opening his own IT services company in Huntington.
Friends and family said he was a fixture at his children's soccer matches, marching band practices and dance recitals. He also coached soccer at the YMCA and was active in the Parent-Teacher Association.
In 2011, Spector was elected to a seat on the school board. The district, in a statement Friday on its website, noted his commitment to reopening the Jack Abrams School as a STEM magnet school and bringing back full-day kindergarten.
As he worked to achieve those goals, he also sought to re-establish transparency and public confidence in the district, colleagues said.
"Those things all happened in the three years that he served," said Emily Rogan, the school board president. "I don't know that many people get to say that in their lives."
Spector continued his work on the board despite a July 2010 lung cancer diagnosis. He was elected May 20 to another three-year term.
Meredith Spector, his wife of 24 years, said he didn't miss a meeting until last month.
"He would just keep carrying on," she said. "He said, 'Just keep moving forward,' every time there was a bump in the road."
She said his positive attitude inspired those around him.
"You can choose to be sad and isolate yourself, or you can choose to use it as a vehicle to help other people. He did that -- and that made him stronger and it made all of us stronger," she said.
Spector expressed that optimism in a personal blog, "My So Called Life."
"When I wonder just how much more I can take, I realize the answer is -- whatever gets thrown at me," he wrote on March 23.
Services were held Friday at Gutterman's funeral home in Woodbury.
Family members and friends said all 700 seats were filled and several rows of people stood in the back. Burial was at Northport Rural Cemetery.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son, Jackson, 16, and daughter, Jamie, 14; mother Helen, of Monroe Township, New Jersey; brother Marc, of Merrick; and sisters Gail Sussman of East Brunswick, New Jersey, and Barbra Risi of Oceanside.
Donations may be made to Spector's charitable organization for lung cancer research, Adampalooza.org, or to the Visiting Nurse Services and Hospice of Suffolk County, 505 Main St., Northport 11768.