By Mark Hallum
Democrats and Republicans alike gathered together at the funeral Sunday for former state Sen. Frank Padavan, who was remembered as a bipartisan leader in northeast Queens during his 38 years serving in Albany.
Padavan died suddenly of a heart attack Oct. 11. He was 83.
The news came as a shock to his two children, Allison and Scott, who spoke of his nature as a father first and a politician second at the Gleason Funeral Home in Whitestone.
“I’m very proud of him. He was a ridiculously dedicated father. We benefit from the pride our parents take in us. We needed it more so when we’re younger,” said Scott Padavan, who now lives in Hawaii.
Frank Padavan was a reserve member of the United States Army for 30 years, reaching the rank of Corporal, and had a degree in electrical engineering.
Allison Padavan did not know her father before he took office, but never looked at him as a politician because of the time he dedicated to attending all the important events in her life.
“We’re hurting, but overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and respect that so many friends in the community at large have for him. He was really my best friend and a wonderful idol for me,” Allison Padavan said. “He was there for every single important — and even insignificant — event of my life. He would drive down from Albany for a basketball game. He’d be there even now, in later years, when his strength wasn’t the same… I’m living out of state and he would come and visit me — get on a plane — all because I asked.”
Frank Padavan worked as an advocate for mental health. He was the main force behind the passage of Padavan Law in 1978, which called for the qualification of licensed group homes for the mentally disabled as single family units for the purpose of placing residential sites for people with special needs in neighborhoods that were previously deemed unsuitable by zoning laws or community concerns.
Scott Padavan said his father lived in a different political climate than can be found today. He recalls one image depicting a tennis match of the late senator playing alongside former Gov. Mario Cuomo in a game of Democrats versus Republicans.
“My father was of the belief that you’re a civil servant. You’re there to serve the people and help the people, not yourself,” Allison Padavan said. “I think he did not appreciate the political climate today. When he was first going to run in 1972 my mother said, ‘You can’t run, you’re not a lawyer.’ He said ‘I’m an engineer and engineers fix things.’ He did it to help people, that was always his motivation.”
Frank Padavan served as state senator until 2010, when he was defeated by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).
He lived in Jamaica Estates from his time just prior to him taking office in 1972 until his death and is predeceased by his wife Johanne.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall