John Braslow had a larger-than-life presence.
Known as "Jack," Braslow could always be spotted with a cigar in his hand, offering stories, blunt advice and a sharp take on the current political and legal landscapes to listeners eager to soak up his insights. The longtime North Babylon attorney spent more than six decades as a fixture in politics, both as a Babylon Town Democratic Party leader and as a mentor to those running for office.
Braslow, of Middle Island, died on Sept. 27 at Good Shepherd Hospice in Port Jefferson after suffering a stroke. He was 92.
"When you talked to Dad, it wasn’t about him, it was about you," said his son Robert Braslow of Southold. "If you had kids, he’d remember their names and if someone had had a problem, he’d remember and ask if they ever took care of it."
His engaging and charismatic style ingratiated him with more than his political allies.
"Everyone from every political party loved him because of the way he treated people," said another son, Stephen Braslow of Amityville, a Suffolk County judge. "He transcended parties. That’s something that really wasn’t common back then."
Born on Nov. 14, 1928, Jack Braslow grew up in the Bronx, where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School. At age 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Army to join the war effort, serving for two years in Europe and earning the rank of sergeant. Upon returning stateside, he attended Champlain College in Plattsburgh.
Braslow went on to earn his law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1953. He then worked for the Queens Legal Aid Society, said Stephen Braslow.
In 1952, Jack Braslow married Joan Schwartz, and the couple had three children, Robert, Stephen and Deborah. The family moved to Deer Park in the late 1950s and Jack Braslow set up a North Babylon law practice, where he was a jack-of-all-trades, Stephen Braslow said, handling real estate closings, wills and personal injury cases.
Jack Braslow also immediately immersed himself in local Democratic politics, an unpopular position at a time when Republicans ruled local races. He unsuccessfully ran for state Assembly in 1962 but would go on to serve as Babylon Town Democratic leader for more than 10 years, from the early 1970s to mid-1980s.
Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, also the Suffolk County Democratic leader, met Braslow when he was 13 and helping to work the Democratic phone bank. Braslow would go on to become his "political father and personal father," Schaffer said, teaching him to "always have a plan B, C and D."
The longtime Yankees fan was not only generous with his time but with his money, and his law office was often filled with people seeking his help, he said.
"He was always trying to help everybody," Schaffer said.
In addition to his sons, Braslow is survived by his second wife, Joyce Braslow of Middle Island; two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his daughter, Deborah.
Braslow is buried in Calverton National Cemetery.