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W.L. Maher, Brookville attorney, dead at 81

William L. Maher lived as if there wasn't a moment to spare. And his wife of 55 years, Leonora, never tried to change him or slow him down.

"Because that's just the way he was," she said. "He believed every moment was precious and important."

Maher, 81, a Brookville attorney and civic leader who experienced life as a sports writer, village justice, licensed pilot, Korean War veteran and author of two books, died Saturday of an apparent heart attack.

"He set a tremendous example," said his son, Gregory Maher, 48, the chief credit officer for a Manhattan-based nonprofit. "He was not only community-minded, but he was a Little League coach and involved in our church."

Gregory Maher said his father often looked for Long Island organizations that wanted to make a difference. He was a founding member of Long Island Transportation Management and the Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, Gregory said, and also served on the boards of several other groups, including the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County.

At the law firm of Hall, Casey, Dickler & Howley, where he worked for 25 years, Maher collaborated on several issues with William J. Casey, director of the CIA under President Ronald Reagan, and Leonard Hall, a campaign manager for President Eisenhower.

Maher also volunteered as Brookville's village justice from 1980 until his death, his wife said. She recalled he took the position seriously, especially when it came to dealing with young offenders.

Once, after a group of high-school-age boys broke into a home under construction, he sentenced them to write an essay, to have the boys reflect on their actions and the damage they had done, his wife said.

Besides his wife and son, Maher is survived by his daughter, Maureen LaPiana of Arlington, Va.; his sister, Mary Jane Smith, and five grandchildren.

A funeral Mass is set Wednesday at St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Brookville, followed by burial at Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury.

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