Walter Lawrence McCaffrey -- a former political aide, veteran New York City Democratic councilman from Queens and an active lobbyist -- died Wednesday after a brief illness at The Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He was 64.
McCaffrey, the son of Irish immigrants, was considered by his friends and fellow political colleagues to be a smart, thoughtful and hardworking legislator, with sharp debate skills, quick wit, grand humor and devotion to the city of New York and his "beloved" Queens, said his friend Mike Clendenin, once a City Council spokesman.
McCaffrey represented the 26th Council Queens District of Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City for 16 years.
He was first elected to the City Council in 1985. He would chair the powerful Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises.
"He wrote landmark legislation requiring security cameras at ATMs and restricting ATM surcharge fees, and was the lead sponsor of legislation banning or restricting adult establishments from middle-class neighborhoods and school areas," Clendenin said.
Previously, McCaffrey had served as chairman of Community Board 2 in Queens, covering much of the same area as the council district.
"He started a program about 1987 in Long Island City with the Salvation Army for homeless veterans called the Borden Avenue Veterans Shelter," said board chairman Joseph Conley. "He also helped start a group called 'V Cops,' who worked like an auxiliary with the 108th precinct in many ways, especially during street festivals."
McCaffrey lived in Woodside, where he grew up. He graduated from Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School in East Elmhurst and attended Iona College in New Rochelle.
Before his City Council tenure, he was chief of staff to Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein and the late Congressman Thomas Manton.
After leaving public office, McCaffrey founded The McCaffrey Group, a strategic government affairs lobbying firm.
"He is survived by the city of New York," said his friend Clendenin.
Funeral services had not been made Wednesday, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered all flags lowered to half-staff. This included the American flag, the New York State and city flags and the POW-MIA flags on all city buildings and stationary flagstaffs throughout the five boroughs.