William Lindsay (D-Holbrook), the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, died Wednesday, according to county officials. He was 67.
Lindsay died at Stony Brook University Hospital around noon, said Michael Pitcher, Lindsay’s director of communications.
The cause of death is still not known.
Lindsay, who was first elected to the legislature in 2001, has been battling cancer for about two years.
Jon Cooper, a former Suffolk County legislator and a friend of Lindsay, hadn’t heard about the presiding officer’s death until a reporter broke the news over the phone.
“It’s a shock,” Cooper said, adding that he knew Lindsay “was very ill.”
He said Lindsay was a “wonderful man, kind-hearted and generous,” and was “so widely respected” among both Democrats and Republicans.
“What a loss,” Cooper added. “He was a terrific legislator and I think the best presiding officer that we’ve had in the history of Suffolk County Legislature and I don’t say that lightly.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone released a statement soon after Lindsay’s death and lamented the loss of a “true public servant.”
Lindsay, Bellone said, had a common sense way of dealing with his colleagues and constituents and “possessed an unstoppable determination” to serve the public even during his fight with cancer.
“Bill stands as a shining example of what all public officials should strive to become,” he added.
Wayne Horsley, deputy presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, said the entire legislative body was “devastated” by Lindsay’s death.
“Our deepest condolences go out to his family and his countless friends,” Horsley said in a statement. “Bill was a true friend and an extraordinary public servant and leader who dedicated his entire life to serving others. There is a hole in our hearts that will never be repaired. He will be deeply missed.”
“He was definitely not a politician,” added Leg. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley). “He was a working-class man and a true public servant. To me he wasn’t just the Presiding Officer he was a great friend. I can’t help noting the irony of the fact that he died on September 11. I remember well his battle to make sure that 9/11 responders got the health care that they deserved.”
The Holbrook Democrat was first elected presiding officer in 2006 and was re-elected every year since.
Lindsay is survived by his wife, Pat, and three children. He also has four grandchildren.