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Michael D'Andre, former Suffolk lawmaker, dies at 92

Former Suffolk Legis. Michael D'Andre, a horticulturist and

Former Suffolk Legis. Michael D'Andre, a horticulturist and nursery owner who sponsored the county's first smoking ban, has died, his family said. He was 92. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Former Suffolk Legis. Michael D'Andre, a horticulturist and nursery owner who sponsored the county's first smoking ban, has died, his family said. He was 92.

The former St. James Republican died in Miami on Monday.

D'Andre founded Hither Brook Nursery in St. James in 1965. He was elected to the Suffolk Legislature in 1982 and retired in 2001.

He held a lifelong passion for plants and landscaping, giving away flower bulbs to visitors, friends and political acquaintances, his family said.

D'Andre sold the nursery in 1977, expecting to retire, said a daughter, Carla D'Andre of Coconut Grove, Florida. "He thought he could golf, tend his irises and roses," she said. "He could not."

After serving as a legislative aide and then as a community relations director for county parks, he ran for a seat in the legislature.

He sponsored a "safe haven" bill that allowed mothers to drop off unwanted infants and co-sponsored the county's first spending cap law.

He also cast the decisive vote on a 1988 bill mandating protections for employees who work at computers, or video display terminals, the first such bill in the nation.

When D'Andre sponsored the smoking ban in 1983, it was one of the most aggressive anti-tobacco laws in the country, said Paul Sabatino, a former Suffolk legislative counsel.

"I used to call him the statesman of the county legislature," Sabatino said. "He had more wisdom and common sense than the average elected official did."

Carol McGuire of Kings Park worked for D'Andre for 10 years and remembers him as "a gentle person" who loved helping constituents, as well as plants.

"He'd come over every year to my house to check that the day lilies were blooming, the yellow azaleas were still blooming," she said.

D'Andre, whose parents were Italian immigrants, also sponsored a bill that would have made English the county's official language. Later in life, he felt it was a duty for Americans to learn English, Carla D'Andre said. The bill didn't pass.

He was elected deputy presiding officer in 1999, one of his proudest political achievements, she said.

D'Andre was born in Glen Cove, the youngest of six children and was a fraternal twin. Shortly before his 20th birthday, he enlisted in the Air Force.

He eventually managed and then bought Boulevard Nursery in Flushing. In 1963, he returned to school to study botany and horticulture.

He opened Hither Brook Horticultural Center and Nursery, which included a scientific diagnostic lab for soil analysis, plant identification, disease and insect problems.

Survivors include his wife, Madeline; another daughter, Michele McMenamin, of Manalapan, New Jersey; a son, Mark D'Andre, of Taft, Texas; and four grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his youngest child, David.

A wake will be held Monday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at St. James Funeral Home, 829 Middle Country Rd. A service will be held at the funeral home Tuesday at 10 a.m., with burial at Calverton National Cemetery.

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