Former state Senator Owen Johnson has died at his home of natural causes at the age of 85. Johnson served an astonishing 20 terms in the New York State Senate and is believed to be the second longest serving senator in the chamber's history.
Former state Senator Owen Johnson, who served 40 years in the Senate before stepping down two years ago, has died, Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos announced.
Johnson, who was 85, died of natural causes at his Bablyon, L.I., home Wednesday morning, surrounded by family members, Senate officials said.
Skelos, in a statement, said Johnson left "an indelible mark on the Senate" and praised his legacy of extraordinary service to the people of Suffolk County.
A member of the powerful bloc of Republican senators from Long Island known as the "Long Island Nine," Johnson served for many years as the head of the Senate's Finance Committee and, according to Skelos, was a staunch advocate for a state spending cap. He was also a sponsor of the original legislation to create New York's Environmental Protection Fund and the first bill to provide drivers with an insurance discount or a reduction in points for completing a defensive driving course.
Johnson more "occupied" that seat than "served" that district in his last few terms and probably stuck around a bit too long as a favor to his conference. 40 years is a very long time.
He was elected the night of Richard Nixon's landslide mauling of George McGovern in 1972 and retired as Barack Obama's first term was ending. Think about that.
Godspeed, Owen Johnson.
(image via NYSenate.gov)