WOODBURY - Francis Purcell, a former Long Island politician who served as Nassau County executive, has died at age 95.
Purcell died of natural causes today in Florida. He had lived in Malverne, where he was once the mayor, and he served as Nassau's fifth county executive from 1977 to 1987.
He was a World War II veteran and a former minor league baseball player who never lost a political election.
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In the 60s, Purcell served as a member of the state Assembly. Purcell had also served as the supervisor of Hempstead, and then, after being elected to three terms as county executive, he left office to work as a News 12 Long Island political analyst.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) successfully ran for county comptroller as Purcell's running mate in the 1980s. King says Purcell's "every-man charm" resonated with voters.
"What they saw was what they got," King says. "Fran's base was the average, middle-income family. They are the people he identified with, and they identified with him."
Current County Executive Ed Mangano said in a statement, "We will remember Fran for his love of our county, and I will remember him for his thoughtful advice."
Wakes for Purcell will be held at O'Shea Funeral Home in Wantagh on Tuesday and Wednesday.