Longtime state Sen. Owen Johnson dies
Longtime state Sen. Owen Johnson, of Babylon, died Wednesday morning of natural causes.
Johnson was the longest serving state senator in Long Island's history. The Republican served 20 terms in office. He was reluctant to take the job at first, but eventually he came to love it.
"I think the thing about Owen is that he achieved the pinnacle of power in Albany as a senior state senator, and yet he never lost the common touch for his constituents in Babylon and Islip," said state Sen. Phil Boyle (R - Bay Shore).
Johnson, 85, began his run in 1972 when Richard Nixon was president. During his span in the state Senate, New York saw eight different governors. Those who worked with Johnson on both sides of the political aisle say his dedication to the public and his strong principles made him easy to work with.
When Johnson decided to retire in 2012 to spend more time with his family, he wrote an open letter to his constituents describing the legislation he was most proud of. Though he was known as a Conservative Republican, he was a founder of the state's Environmental Protection Fund, drafted legislation for defensive driving discounts and fought for millions of dollars to pay for Ducks Stadium. Through the years, he often spoke about protecting the middle class.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement sending his condolences to Johnson's family and friends. He said for four decades, Sen. Johnson honorably served the people of Suffolk County and New York State.
A funeral is scheduled for Monday in Babylon.