Leslie Anderson balanced working for three Suffolk County district attorneys with a...

Leslie Anderson balanced working for three Suffolk County district attorneys with a heavy load of  community service. Credit: Emma K. McGrattan

One time, during her early years in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Leslie Blake Anderson was invited to a fancy Hamptons party.

She took a companion: a very small, and very much alive, pig, decked out in top hat and tails.

“She had pictures,” remembered Ray Tierney, Suffolk’s district attorney. "And no surprise, Leslie, as always, ended up being the life of the party." 

Anderson, who balanced working for three Suffolk County district attorneys with a heavy load of community service, died Wednesday after a cascading series of health challenges. She was 57.

According to her wife, Emma McGrattan, Anderson had been expected to die six days earlier. “They kept saying, oh, she only has an hour or so left,” McGrattan said. “She fooled them.”

Which was a quintessential Anderson move, friends and colleagues agreed.

Anderson’s humor, personality and drive made her bigger than life — even at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, McGrattan said with pride.

 Anderson loved rugby, which she played in college; more recently, she'd taken up fencing.

Tierney recalled her catching the winning play at the office’s first Election Day football game. “I don't think she was even supposed to be on the field,” he said. 

"Leslie discovered her gifts — laughter, intelligence, friendship, charity — very early in her life, and she generously gave them away to everyone she met," said Chris Williams, a former colleague in the DA's office who attended the University at Albany with Anderson.

"She put bad guys away, took them off the street, while at the same time opening doors in education for kids in the community to change their lives,” he said.

For years, Anderson endowed the Anderson/Helms/Holmes Family Memorial Scholarship for students in financial need at Suffolk County Community College. The scholarship was named after her mother, Andrea, a nurse who had a master's degree, and her grandmother, both of whom stressed the importance of education.

Anderson, who was born in Riverhead, was a lifelong member of the East End NAACP, where her grandparents, great aunt and great uncle were the unit's charter members.

"Leslie was a trusted messenger in our community that you could call to cut through the noise, always focused on addressing the root cause of an issue with tenacity, style, quick wit, and no nonsense," said Tracey Edwards, NAACP Long Island regional director.

Anderson moved to Central Islip when she was a teenager. She was a graduate of the University at Albany, where she spent a year studying at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland. She graduated from Albany Law School at Union University in 1990.

Anderson worked for three Suffolk district attorneys, James Catterson, Tim Sini and Tierney. She was a head of the office's gang investigations unit under Catterson and retired as deputy bureau chief of the DA's conviction integrity unit under Tierney,

"She was a trailblazer, as a woman and an African American," said Tierney, who worked with Anderson when both were young assistant district attorneys under Catterson.

Anderson told colleagues about her early experiences via an office newsletter at the start of Women's History Month in March.

"In 1991, when I started in the DA's office, there were judges and defense attorneys who didn't believe that women should be lawyers," she said. "They called us 'girls' and did not truly take us seriously."

"There were very few Black lawyers, and even fewer Black female lawyers," she went on. "I took those prejudices as a challenge but there were definitely people who intentionally made life more difficult."

At one time, Anderson decided to leave the DA's office, moving over to investigate and prosecute attorneys for professional misconduct as a principal lawyer for the state's Appellate Division, 2nd Judicial Department’s Grievance Committee in the 10th Judicial District, Long Island.

She came back to work for Sini and stayed on when Tierney took over.

It wasn't until she was in her 40s that Anderson met the love of her life — on Match.com.

"Our first date was so boring that I couldn't wait to get away," McGrattan said. "She was so very different from the woman I thought I knew from her emails."

That's because, as McGrattan would soon find out, friends had advised Anderson to be nice, and to be polite — anything other than her usual gregarious self. 

Anderson ignored friends' advice on their next date. "After our fourth, I asked her to marry me," McGrattan said.

The couple went on to do a lot of traveling, including several trips to Anderson's beloved Ireland, where they had an apartment in Dublin. They lived in East Patchogue and would have celebrated 10 years together Oct. 12.

In addition to the NAACP, Anderson was active or held leadership roles in some two-dozen organizations, including Head Start, the Martin Luther King Commission annual luncheon, the Islip Town Ethics Board, Suffolk's chapter of the American Cancer Society, Albany Law Center, the Suffolk Human Rights Commission and Suffolk County Community College. She also was adviser to Central Islip HIgh School's mock trial team.

During her five weeks in the hospital, Anderson — being Anderson, McGrattan said — queried nurses about their jobs and their education.

She also advised and helped prepare aides who were interested in nursing school. 

Anderson couldn't hold a phone, so she made notes, verbally, via an Alexa device.

Those conversations led to the establishment of a second scholarship at SCCC: The Leslie B. Anderson Memorial Fund for Nursing Excellence, McGrattan said.

When assistant district attorneys retire, they are required to leave their badges behind.

But the badges come back, with the word "RETIRED" added to them — and with colleagues hosting a party in celebration. Anderson's party, friends and colleagues said, had been expected — anticipated even — to be especially grand.

But Anderson was in the ICU when her badge came back.

There was no party.

"But I see Leslie celebrating, always celebrating," Williams said, "with her Scotch — and the occasional cigar."

A wake will be held Monday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., at Moloney's Funeral Home, 840 Wheeler Rd. (Route 111), Hauppauge. The service for cremation is private. Donations can be made to the Leslie B. Anderson Fund for Nursing Excellence at Suffolk County Community College.


 

One time, during her early years in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Leslie Blake Anderson was invited to a fancy Hamptons party.

She took a companion: a very small, and very much alive, pig, decked out in top hat and tails.

“She had pictures,” remembered Ray Tierney, Suffolk’s district attorney. "And no surprise, Leslie, as always, ended up being the life of the party." 

Anderson, who balanced working for three Suffolk County district attorneys with a heavy load of community service, died Wednesday after a cascading series of health challenges. She was 57.

According to her wife, Emma McGrattan, Anderson had been expected to die six days earlier. “They kept saying, oh, she only has an hour or so left,” McGrattan said. “She fooled them.”

Which was a quintessential Anderson move, friends and colleagues agreed.

Anderson’s humor, personality and drive made her bigger than life — even at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, McGrattan said with pride.

 Anderson loved rugby, which she played in college; more recently, she'd taken up fencing.

Tierney recalled her catching the winning play at the office’s first Election Day football game. “I don't think she was even supposed to be on the field,” he said. 

"Leslie discovered her gifts — laughter, intelligence, friendship, charity — very early in her life, and she generously gave them away to everyone she met," said Chris Williams, a former colleague in the DA's office who attended the University at Albany with Anderson.

"She put bad guys away, took them off the street, while at the same time opening doors in education for kids in the community to change their lives,” he said.

For years, Anderson endowed the Anderson/Helms/Holmes Family Memorial Scholarship for students in financial need at Suffolk County Community College. The scholarship was named after her mother, Andrea, a nurse who had a master's degree, and her grandmother, both of whom stressed the importance of education.

Anderson, who was born in Riverhead, was a lifelong member of the East End NAACP, where her grandparents, great aunt and great uncle were the unit's charter members.

"Leslie was a trusted messenger in our community that you could call to cut through the noise, always focused on addressing the root cause of an issue with tenacity, style, quick wit, and no nonsense," said Tracey Edwards, NAACP Long Island regional director.

Anderson moved to Central Islip when she was a teenager. She was a graduate of the University at Albany, where she spent a year studying at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland. She graduated from Albany Law School at Union University in 1990.

Anderson worked for three Suffolk district attorneys, James Catterson, Tim Sini and Tierney. She was a head of the office's gang investigations unit under Catterson and retired as deputy bureau chief of the DA's conviction integrity unit under Tierney,

"She was a trailblazer, as a woman and an African American," said Tierney, who worked with Anderson when both were young assistant district attorneys under Catterson.

Anderson told colleagues about her early experiences via an office newsletter at the start of Women's History Month in March.

"In 1991, when I started in the DA's office, there were judges and defense attorneys who didn't believe that women should be lawyers," she said. "They called us 'girls' and did not truly take us seriously."

"There were very few Black lawyers, and even fewer Black female lawyers," she went on. "I took those prejudices as a challenge but there were definitely people who intentionally made life more difficult."

At one time, Anderson decided to leave the DA's office, moving over to investigate and prosecute attorneys for professional misconduct as a principal lawyer for the state's Appellate Division, 2nd Judicial Department’s Grievance Committee in the 10th Judicial District, Long Island.

She came back to work for Sini and stayed on when Tierney took over.

It wasn't until she was in her 40s that Anderson met the love of her life — on Match.com.

"Our first date was so boring that I couldn't wait to get away," McGrattan said. "She was so very different from the woman I thought I knew from her emails."

That's because, as McGrattan would soon find out, friends had advised Anderson to be nice, and to be polite — anything other than her usual gregarious self. 

Anderson ignored friends' advice on their next date. "After our fourth, I asked her to marry me," McGrattan said.

The couple went on to do a lot of traveling, including several trips to Anderson's beloved Ireland, where they had an apartment in Dublin. They lived in East Patchogue and would have celebrated 10 years together Oct. 12.

In addition to the NAACP, Anderson was active or held leadership roles in some two-dozen organizations, including Head Start, the Martin Luther King Commission annual luncheon, the Islip Town Ethics Board, Suffolk's chapter of the American Cancer Society, Albany Law Center, the Suffolk Human Rights Commission and Suffolk County Community College. She also was adviser to Central Islip HIgh School's mock trial team.

During her five weeks in the hospital, Anderson — being Anderson, McGrattan said — queried nurses about their jobs and their education.

She also advised and helped prepare aides who were interested in nursing school. 

Anderson couldn't hold a phone, so she made notes, verbally, via an Alexa device.

Those conversations led to the establishment of a second scholarship at SCCC: The Leslie B. Anderson Memorial Fund for Nursing Excellence, McGrattan said.

When assistant district attorneys retire, they are required to leave their badges behind.

But the badges come back, with the word "RETIRED" added to them — and with colleagues hosting a party in celebration. Anderson's party, friends and colleagues said, had been expected — anticipated even — to be especially grand.

But Anderson was in the ICU when her badge came back.

There was no party.

"But I see Leslie celebrating, always celebrating," Williams said, "with her Scotch — and the occasional cigar."

A wake will be held Monday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., at Moloney's Funeral Home, 840 Wheeler Rd. (Route 111), Hauppauge. The service for cremation is private. Donations can be made to the Leslie B. Anderson Fund for Nursing Excellence at Suffolk County Community College.


 

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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