By Gina Martinez
Elected officials expressed their condolences after state Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing) died Saturday after reportedly battling an unidentified illness for years.
Simanowitz, 45, represented the 27th District, which covers College Point, Whitestone, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Electchester, Pomonok, Briarwood, Kew Gardens, and Richmond Hill since 2011. Prior to being elected to the state office, he served as the chief of staff to Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn for 15 years until her retirement. Simanowitz is survived by his wife Jennifer, four children, his parents and his brothers Barry and Alan. Simanowitz, a lifelong resident of Forest Hills, studied at Yeshiva Tiferes Moshe as a child. The assemblyman was a proud Orthodox Jew who often stood up for Jewish community in the Assembly.
Simanowitz served as a board member at the Yeshiva of Central Queens and contributed to the Queens Jewish Historical Society, the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives, Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and the 107th Precinct Community Council.
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) called Simanowitz a dedicated public servant who worked tirelessly to improve the community and that she was shocked and devastated over the sudden death of her great friend.
“Mike was a wonderful human being,” she said. “He had a heart of gold and was among the warmest, friendliest and most down-to-earth individuals I have known. His passing is a terrible loss for me personally as well as for our borough, city and state. I will miss him enormously. But his service and advocacy will never be forgotten, and I will always cherish the times we spent together.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said he was heartbroken to learn of the death of his dear friend
“He was a person beyond reproach and someone who carried out the duties of the office with dignity and honor,” he said. “He fought tirelessly for his community and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. I offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time. I join them and the people of Queens in mourning the loss of an exemplary man and public servant.”
Borough President Melinda Katz said she was very saddened by the loss.
“Michael cared deeply about the people of Queens and fought tenaciously on their behalf throughout his distinguished career in public service,” she said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time. Michael will be deeply missed by all who knew him and by all who are involved in the civic life of our borough.”
A funeral was held Saturday at the Schwartz Brothers Jeffer Memorial Chapel in Forest Hills, followed by burial in Israel.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart