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Remembering Leonard N. Spano

Leonard N. Spano, who served as a Westchester County legislator for 22 years and County Clerk for another 11 until retiring in 2005, passed away Sunday at the age of 88.

The patriarch of a Westchester County political dynasty, Spano and his wife, Josephine, raised 16 children in Yonkers. His son Nicholas served as a Republican in the state Assembly and Senate for nearly three decades and Michael, a Republican turned Democrat, is the mayor of Yonkers, the state’s fourth-largest city.

According to the Journal News, on Sunday, Spano’s children, together with his 42 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, gathered at the family home in the city’s Colonial Heights section. There, they shared memories of a man whose world view was forged at a Marine boot camp on Parris Island and on the streets of Yonkers selling heating oil, a door-to-door job he parlayed to his advantage when he first ran for office in 1967.

“He was constantly working with us, constantly teaching us lessons that he started with us from a young age, lessons that he learned in the Marine Corps,” Nicholas Spano, 65, said Sunday. “Never looking up at a mountain. Face your problems head on and take one step at a time until you get to the top of the mountain…When he died he was at the top of the mountain.”

There were days during their childhood, Spano mused, when he and his brothers and sisters thought they were the ones in boot camp.

“We’re grieving but at the same time celebrating the life of our hero,” Spano said. “He taught us respect, he taught us about family. He was a tough Marine and really made us appreciate all the good things we have as a family.”

Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, thanked Spano for his decades of service.

“Westchester wouldn’t be the place it is today if it weren’t for the public service and leadership of Len Spano,” Gordon said. “His legacy certainly endures and will for many generations to come. I join in celebrating a life lived to the fullest, and offer my condolences to the Spano family on the loss of one who was so loved.”

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