Former Nassau County Executive Francis Purcell, who had a 40-year...

Former Nassau County Executive Francis Purcell, who had a 40-year political career, died on May 18, 2014 in Florida. Purcell was 95. He is shown here at a hearing on April 28, 1986. Newsday's obituary for Francis Purcell
Credit: Newsday / Bob Luckey

Nassau County lost a true statesman when Fran Purcell passed away ["Honoring Purcell," News, May 23]. He was the epitome of what it meant to be a public servant -- to serve the people -- rather than a politician desperate for voter approval.

He served with distinction as a village trustee, mayor, assemblyman, supervisor and eventually county executive. For nearly four decades, he enriched the lives of many county residents and left a profound impact on Nassau County.

I never had the opportunity to meet Purcell, but I've often met people in the county who worked for him. In 2011, while conducting research on county politics, I wrote him to request an interview, and over the course of a week, we spoke on the telephone twice. He was an open book. "Ask me anything," he said.

He shared his philosophy of government: putting the people first.

"If you do good government, the politics will fall into place," he told me.

During Purcell's time in elected office, public trust in government was at an all-time high, ranging between 60 and 70 percent. Nowadays, that number lingers slightly above 15 percent. The people of my generation never had a Fran Purcell to admire and for that, we are at a tremendous loss.

Michael Kaplan, Massapequa


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