Town mourns Hurley’s death

Rodger Hurley claimed by heart attack

Granville Supervisor Rodger Hurley got to serve just 61 of the 730 days he was elected to serve in November as the first two-term Democrat to hold the office in the history of the office in Granville.

Those who knew him said Hurley would have seen it that way, as “getting to” or having the privilege of serving his community for two additional years.

“He certainly put his heart and soul into making Granville a better community. I consider him a friend and a colleague,” Mayor Jay Niles said just after news spread Tuesday afternoon of the second-term supervisor’s passing.

Throughout the week Hurley was remembered as a man committed to making a difference whether in the town or for the town at the county level.

“He will be missed; he did a lot for Granville,” Granville Town Board member Matt Rathbun said just hours after the news broke.

Sheila Comar, Washington County Democratic chairwoman, said Hurley was a tireless and enthusiastic servant of the people of Granville.

“Rodger Hurley was a dedicated public servant who was very passionate about things he felt needed to be brought out in the open and/or changed — for example keeping taxes low so people who were struggling wouldn’t be forced out of their homes,” she said.

“He was a true bipartisan who worked with members of all parties on issues that he felt were important to the people of Granville. He always gave 100 percent to any project he took on and he wasn’t afraid of a challenge,” Comar said.

“I feel fortunate to have known Rodger and will miss him very much. He has started Granville on a journey of awakening and it is up to us to ensure that his efforts are not forgotten or abandoned. It’s the least we can do in his memory,” Comar said.     

When the two were riding off to meetings with officials in Albany or at any other location regarding development or attracting businesses to Granville, Niles said, the two would talk as they drove.

“We used to have great discussions about Granville and the role of politics in the community. I know that he always wanted the best for the community and he didn’t have a personal agenda, he always wanted what was best for Granville,” Niles said.

“Certainly from our village board our condolences go out to Ann and Rodger’s children and grandchildren. Rodger was a devoted family man and always very close to his family; we talked about that on some of our rides together,” Niles said.

Haynes House board of directors member Crystal Everdyke said Hurley will be recalled fondly for a long time after his many contributions to establishing the comfort care home.

“Rodger will be greatly missed, from his drive to get the project started, to his work on the building, to his comments at our grand opening. We will remember seeing him in every part of the house, coated in sawdust, paint, stain and sweat. We will also remember his rendition of ‘I’ve Been Working on the Railroad’ that day in the bank! He will always be a part of the Haynes House of Hope,” Everdyke said.

Hurley also spent time as a firefighter in Granville, joining Granville Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 nearly four years ago and completing training for scene support operation. Chief Ryan Pedone recalled Hurley as someone always willing to help and eager to learn.

“Although he joined at 66 and was one of our older members, Rodger was always willing to learn. He had a need for knowledge and was always asking questions; he was a great asset to this department. Rodger always wanted to help there was no task to big or too small. It was also great to have his support around budget time and when pursuing grants,” Pedone said.   

In addition to his wife, Ann, Hurley leaves behind four children and three grandchildren.

Niles said the village would be placing flags at half staff until the day after the funeral service, scheduled for March 13 at 1 p.m.

Mary Emery, former town clerk and town board member during Hurley’s time as well as his opponent in the fall election, losing a nail-biter election that came down to counting absentee ballots, said she was shocked and surprised by the news, like so many.

“He was one of the last people you would expect this to happen to,” she said. “I think it’s a terrible thing.

“I know he was my rival for election, but you don’t like to see this happen to anybody. My sympathies go out to his family,” Emery said. “I know he believed in what he was doing and he was enthusiastic about what he was doing.”

Former Supervisor John Cosey, whom Hurley defeated to win his first term as supervisor, said he knew Hurley mostly from the political realm and admittedly did not know him personally.

“Well, he campaigned against me, but I got along good with him,” Cosey said. “He was a hard campaigner; he got no complaints from me. He worked hard at it, (campaigning).”

Hurley became the first Democratic supervisor from Granville since Roy Esiason was elected to a single term before being beaten by Cosey, who was elected to the next seven terms. Esiason passed away in 2009. 

Hurley died Tuesday morning from a heart attack en route to Glens Fall Hospital.

He was 70 years old.

Just months into his second term after winning a nail-biter election that came down to counting absentee ballots, Hurley called 911 about 8:30 a.m. complaining of chest pains. Hurley was taken by ambulance to Glens Falls Hospital by Granville EMS, but died en route, officials said.

“Washington County mourns the untimely death today of Granville Supervisor Rodger Hurley. Although only beginning his third year on the Board of Supervisors, Rodger was a fierce champion for the citizens of Granville, an advocate for efficiency in county government and a leader in attempting to address the myriad of issues affecting county government and its citizens,” Board Chairman and Easton Supervisor John Rymph said Tuesday. “Rodger’s passing leaves a void in Washington County government where he will be missed as well as for the town of Granville. Rodger served as the chairman of the Agriculture, Planning and Tourism and Community Development committees and as a member of the Community College, Finance and Personnel and Public Works committees.”

At the county level, Hurley sometimes ruffled feathers as a critic of the budget process and what he saw as out-of-control spending that drove people out of the area because they could no longer afford the high property taxes.

Despite his Democratic Party status, Hurley was a fiscal conservative and opponent of careless spending who recently warned that staffing cuts at the county would be one of the needed actions to keep property taxes under control in the next budget year.

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