WOODBURY - Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs, 77, died Tuesday night from complications stemming from a fall in her Woodbury home.
Her daughter Linda Jacobs-Geller says the legislator, who was suffering from cancer and the bone marrow disorder known as myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS, wasn't feeling well over the past two weeks and had just got out of the hospital on Friday.
She says Jacobs fell in her living room and hit the back of her head at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. At first, she appeared OK, according to Jacobs-Geller, who is a medical doctor, and did not want to go to the hospital.
Her family took Jacobs to Syosset Hospital, and she was transferred to Manhasset when it became apparent she had a brain bleed.
Jacobs-Geller says surgery was not an option because of her lack of blood platelets caused by her MDS. She died at 9:30 p.m.
The 11-term Democrat was part of the first class of Nassau lawmakers when the Nassau County Legislature was formed in 1995. Within a few years, Jacobs rose to the top as presiding officer for four consecutive terms.
Jacobs began her career as a teacher in Elmont. She became a community activist and that led her to becoming a politician, giving a voice to those who weren't heard. In her 20 years as a legislator, she led the way to ban smoking in county restaurants, bars and workplaces, and she was fighting to raise the legal smoking age to 21.
Jacobs was a mother and grandmother. She had three children and nine grandchildren.
"She was so proud of all of us, she was our biggest supporter," says Jacobs-Geller. "We're losing a mom, our best friend, the rock of the family."
She says the longtime legislator was slated to start chemotherapy in three weeks.
Today, County Executive Ed Mangano ordered all flags on government buildings to be flown at half-staff in Jacob's honor. It will be up to Mangano to decide when a special election will be held to fill her legislative seat.
Jacobs's funeral will be at 1 p.m. Friday at Gutterman's Funeral Home in Woodbury. She will then be buried at Beth Moses Cemetery in Pine Lawn. In lieu of flowers, the Jacobs family is asking people to make a donation in her name to the Variety Learning Center in Syosset.
Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory released a statement that said in part, "The passing of Judy Jacobs is a loss not just for Nassau County; it is a loss for all of Long Island. She was the consummate public servant and embodied all that politicians should be."