Dominick P. Feeney Sr., Suffolk Off-Track Betting Corp. board chairman, a longtime Huntington Town highway official and organizer of the Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade for years, has died. He was 85.
Feeney, part of the prominent Huntington Democratic family, died Saturday at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook after a lengthy battle with throat cancer.
Last week, Suffolk OTB officials visited Feeney, who chaired the OTB board for 26 years, to give him a framed Newsday front page from the day the new electronic slot casino, Jake’s 58, opened in Islandia earlier this year. “He couldn’t speak or hear, so I wrote him a note, ‘We couldn’t have done it without you,’ ” said Philip Nolan, OTB president. “He had tears in his eyes . . . He was a real gentleman.”
Born in Far Rockaway, Feeney was one of four children. The family moved to Huntington, where he attended Huntington High School. Fee ney left school before graduation to enlist in the Army to serve in the Korean War in 1951.
Feeney was in the 25th Infantry Division, rose to the rank of sergeant and was wounded by mortar fire, according to family members. He was taken to Okinawa for treatment where he was told he would never walk again without crutches and braces. “He was determination personified and proved them wrong,” said his son Dominick Jr. of Melville.
When he returned home, Feeney went to work at the Northport Veteran Administration Hospital as an attendant and worked there about a year. He also married his high school sweetheart, Mary, and the couple remained married 65 years. She still lives in Huntington Station.
Feeney then began his career at the Huntington Highway Department, where he rose to director of operations over the course of three decades. He ran unsuccessfully for town highway superintendent. He also served as a commissioner on the board of the South Huntington Water District.
“He was a quintessential old-school public servant,” said Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman. “He remembered everyone’s birthday, knew how to make everyone feel important and never forgot how to get even the smallest of problems addressed.”
Beyond his career, Feeney was also a major force with the local chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Huntington, and for 30 years was a major organizer of their annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade that draws thousands to the downtown and one year was honored as grand marshal.
His son also said that family was the center of his life, and every year he threw himself a birthday party to celebrate with friends and family. His older brother Martin Feeney, who earlier served as OTB president, said his brother always remained in constant touch after Martin moved to Florida and then Texas, where he now lives. “He’d call me every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday just to talk about what was going on and keeping up,” he said.
Feeney is also survived by a sister, Mary Ida Dwyer of Shelter Island; two other sons, Michael of Huntington Station, and David of Huntington; a daughter, Patricia Vella of Huntington Station; nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
A wake will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington Station. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:45 a.m. Friday at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Huntington. Burial will follow at Long Island National Cemetery in Pinelawn.