ALBANY — Legislators on Wednesday paid tribute to the memory of widely respected Assemb. Herman “Denny” Farrell, including Senate Republicans, with whom Farrell sparred as the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee chairman and as state Democratic chairman.
It was a rare moment by legislators from the opposite house and opposite party to pay such a tribute. But legislators said the 86-year-old Harlem resident who died Saturday transcended such divisions.
“Denny was cut from a different cloth,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport). “He was just a gentleman of the highest order.”
Flanagan said Farrell, a Manhattan Democrat, helped guide him when Flanagan was an assemblyman. They later squared off in the powerful Ways and Means Committee, where Farrell was chairman and Flanagan was the ranking minority member.
“I remember debating him,” Flanagan said in a floor speech Wednesday. “And openly on the floor . . . he said, ‘Just remember, this is Albany: Two and two does not have to equal four.’ ”
“The man gave 42 years of his life to the institution, but he was an institution within the institution,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) in an interview. “Republicans loved him just as much as we Democrats. . . . He always treated people with respect, and he always had a friend demeanor. We are going to miss him tremendously.”
The Assembly observed a moment of silence for Farrell at the opening of Wednesday’s session, and many members will attend Farrell’s funeral Friday in Manhattan. A memorial during session next week is planned.
Farrell died of heart failure. A wake is scheduled for Thursday evening at the Church of the Intercession, 550 W. 155th St., from 3 to 8 p.m.