By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO October 12, 2001 Gordon MacKinnon was always described as a fighter.
Before he came to Sullivan County, he was a New York City firefighter from Battalion 49 in Queens. He eventually was elected as the District 4 Legislator in Sullivan County and became one of the most beloved politicians in the county.
But on Tuesday, the fighter that was Gordon MacKinnon lost his battle at age 70, passing away from natural causes at Horton Medical Center in Middletown.
"We lost a wonderful person," MacKinnon's wife, Joann, remarked. "He wanted so much for his town. It is too bad he did not complete his work. He felt bad that he let the town down. He did not."
We were very close. He was everything any chair would want in a vice-chair, said Legislature Chair Rusty Pomeroy. He was loyal to the core. He had a kindness and stability displayed here that you just dont replace. We will fill the chair, but we will never fill his shoes.
MacKinnon, a resident of Bloomingburg, was one of the original legislators when the Legislature was first formed in 1995. He was an advocate for veterans, senior citizens, and his home: the Town of Mamakating.
"Gordon worked hard for his constituents," commented Mamakating Supervisor Mary Barbuti. "He was always willing to help. He was a fine gentleman."
"I have been his friend for 12 years," stated fellow Legislator Kathleen LaBuda. "When we drove to work together, we shared many quiet and intimate moments in the car. He will be missed by many."
MacKinnon suffered a heart attack in early 2000. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery on St. Patrick's Day. During that operation, he lost both of his kidneys. While he recovered and began dialysis, he insisted that his work be brought to him and he completed it while on the dialysis machine.
MacKinnon returned to the Legislature in the fall of 2000. He underwent dialysis three days a week, when he did not have to be at legislative meetings. While his fellow lawmakers asked him to slow down, MacKinnon refused. He did all the work required and attended as many functions in his district as possible.
In May 2001, Joann donated a kidney to Gordon. While he showed signs of improvement, MacKinnon was still weak and had lost 80 pounds. He was in and out of the hospital for the last two weeks and suffered from pneumonia.
"He was one of the nicest guys going," Legislature Minority Leader Rodney Gaebel said. "He was a gentleman and a real good friend. I will miss him."
"He was a gentleman and a gentle man," commented Legislature Majority Leader Leni Binder. "I always said that he was the best of us. He would listen to anyone and listen to both sides of the story. He had a strong sense of right and wrong. I don't know if we will ever see his quality again."
Besides his wife, Gordon is survived by his son Gordon and daughter Barbara Magiera. Visitation will be held at the VanInwegen-Kenny Funeral Home in Wurtsboro on Friday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. The funeral will take place on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Bloomingburg.
When asked, legislators did not want to even think about MacKinnon's successor. The County Attorney's office is looking into the matter, and an announcement should be made shortly. Most agree that a successor will be appointed until a general election can be held. However, nothing is yet definite save for Joann MacKinnons desire that her husbands efforts to save Route 17s Exit 114 and create a visitors center in Mamakating be continued.
A full obituary appears in the Obituaries section of this online edition.