Dick Bloch, former Brookhaven Democratic Party leader and businessman who devoted much of his life to public service, died on Saturday. He was 84.
Family members said he died of lung disease.
From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, he was chairman of the Brookhaven Democrats at a time when Republicans were firmly in control of the town. It was a challenge he relished, his children said. When Republicans accused Democrats of negative campaigning in 1993 over a brewing bribery scandal, Bloch told Newsday: "Anytime you tell the truth, you're accused of being negative."
Born and raised in Brooklyn, he spent his early years as an entrepreneur, running a newspaper distribution business, an insurance brokerage, a bar, a deli and a yogurt shop.
It was while working in newspaper distribution that he met Rose. They wed in 1951 and soon moved to Patchogue, where they raised a son and three daughters. In the 1990s, the couple moved to Middle Island.
While working in the private sector in the 1960s, he volunteered for political committees. Later, when Democrats took control of Brookhaven for four years in the 1970s, he served in the town's emergency preparedness department. During a storm in 1978 that flooded Mastic Beach, he told Newsday that more than 100 stranded drivers were evacuated from their drowned cars.
His daughter, Kelly DiVico of Huntington, recalled licking envelopes and collecting signatures for political campaigns when she was growing up.
"He definitely was passionate about the Democratic ideals and passionate about serving other people and loved being in the public eye and helping elect people that he felt had integrity," DiVico said.
His son, Rich Bloch of Oakdale, said one of his father's proudest moments was being a delegate at the 1992 Democratic convention that nominated Bill Clinton for president.
He spent more than two decades working for the Suffolk County attorney's office as an investigator, retiring two years ago, his son said.
It was a job that suited his curiosity about the world and current events -- and that he didn't want to give up, his children said.
"There were many times that all of us would say, 'Dad, stop working. Why are you waking up at 8:30 in the morning when you're in your 70s, when you're in your 80s?' and he said, 'But I enjoy it, I love it,' " DiVico said.
He also is survived by his wife; daughters, Kathleen Habich of Middle Island and Nancy Quinn of Huntington; sister, Barbara Campbell of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; 12 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
His wake will be Monday from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. at Marinello Funeral Home, 493 Middle Country Rd., Coram.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. Frances Cabrini Church, 134 Middle Country Rd., Coram.
In lieu of flowers, his children asked that people donate to the St. Frances food pantry.