By Richard Kavesh
Ever since Nyack was first settled by Native Americans and later incorporated as a village, our riverfront community has been home to countless artists, writers, business leaders, other professionals, residents, and yes, even public officials who have enriched the lives of those of us who are fortunate enough to live, work, or visit here.
Two of the most important public figures in the history of Nyack will be honored posthumously at the beginning of the Nyack Village Board’s next meeting on Thursday, September 24th.
The large meeting room will henceforth be known as the ‘€œHesse-O’Connell Room’€ in honor of former trustees Isobel Hesse and Raymond T. O’Connell. Isobel, Ray, and their legacy of public service will also be honored by a plaque inside the meeting room itself.
Isobel Hesse was one of Nyack’s earliest and most passionate civil rights crusaders. Among the many causes she fought for, going back to the 1940’s, were the integration of Nyack’s YMCA and the Nyack school system. She served on the Nyack Village Board for nine years, where she was always a tireless crusader for social justice and Nyack’s neediest people.
Ray O’Connell served 10 years on the Village Board and another 10 on the Zoning Board of Appeals. His love for the village was matched only by encyclopedic knowledge of it. Like Isobel, Ray was always a passionate advocate for open government, responsible development, and liberty and justice for all ‘€“ with no exceptions.
Together, Isobel and Ray teamed up with hundreds, if not thousands, of Nyack residents to lead the fight against a Nyack-to-Manhattan commuter ferry in the late 90’s.
The plaque inside the room reads as follows: ‘€œThe Hesse-O’Connell room is named in honor of Nyack Village Trustees Isobel Hesse and Raymond T. O’Connell in grateful appreciation for Isobel’s 9 years of service as a Trustee, Ray’s 10 years of service as a Trustee, his 10 years on Nyack’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and their dedication and passionate commitment to the people and the village of Nyack. Dedicated by the Nyack Village Board, September 24, 2009’€
The public is invited ‘€“ in fact, urged ‘€“ to attend our meeting, so please keep 7:30 P.M. on Thursday, September 24th on your agenda for this week. This will be the first item on our agenda.
I only met Isobel and Ray in 1996, so I hope that those who knew them better and longer than I did will add to this post and share their own memories of them and their accomplishments.
Richard Kavesh is a Village of Nyack Trustee and a candidates for mayor.