Brian McGarry, Schenectady County legislator, longtime teacher, dies

ROTTERDAM — A longtime public school teacher and Schenectady County legislator has died.

The death of Minority Leader Brian McGarry was confirmed Saturday by County Legislative Speaker Anthony Jasenski.

“All of us in the County Legislative Assembly and in county government are saddened by the passing of Legislator Brian McGarry,” Jasenski said in a statement, “but we remain truly inspired by his dedication and willingness to continue to serve our residents throughout his illness.”

McGarry was 65.

Jasenski said he knows McGarry, a sixth-grade teacher who taught at Duanesburg Central School for nearly 24 years, and has considered him a friend since they attended the old Draper High School together.

“Our political ideas and affiliations may have differed, but his record of public service should serve as an example for all of us on how to work together and govern effectively for the good of our community.”

Jasenski did not include a cause of death, but McGarry had long been battling stage 4 prostate cancer. McGarry’s illness brought him to Israel last year to begin experimental treatment, a trip grueling which saw him fly an 11-hour trip until he could be joined by his wife, Patty.

McGarry, who lived in Rotterdam, has served in the county legislature since 2014, representing the county’s western towns. His tenure included a brief stint as the lone Republican in the 15-member body following the death of longtime GOP leader and lawmaker Jim Buhrmaster in July 2019.

Last November, GOP lawmakers Josh Cuomo and Eric Hess, along with Peter Frisoni, a registered conservative, saw the arrival of GOP lawmakers, building up the ranks of the Democratic-controlled body (Democrats often support conservatives in local races).

Glenville supervisor and former county Republican committee chairman Chris Koetzle praised McGarry as a “dedicated leader and gentleman.”

“He was always pleasant to deal with and sought consensus and solutions on behalf of the people he represented,” Koetzle said. “We will miss him.”

McGarry, a father of six, also owned a photography business and ran an unsuccessful campaign for state assembly in 2018 in which he campaigned against what he dubbed the three “Cs”:

“Corruption, too expensive and too complicated.”

State Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, called McGarry “a great public servant with a real lion’s heart.”

“Brian fought his battle with cancer as fiercely and courageously as he fought for the people he represented in Schenectady County,” Tedisco said in a statement. “My deepest condolences and prayers go out to his loving family and many friends. Brian will be greatly missed.

Service information was not immediately available on Sunday.

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