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Maurice D. Hinchey, Congressman and Environmental Advocate, Dies at 79

Although he had an unassuming demeanor and kept a relatively low profile, Mr. Hinchey came to be known as a reliable Democratic vote and wielded influence with a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, where he routinely inserted money for his district and state into federal spending bills.

Born on Oct. 27, 1938, in New York City, Mr. Hinchey moved to Saugerties with his family as a boy. He enlisted in the Navy after high school and later worked as a laborer at a Hudson Valley cement plant for two years.

Photo

Mr. Hinchey, right, with Duke Devlin, a 1969 Woodstock festival participant, in 2004.

Credit
Bill Wingell for The New York Times

A biography provided by his family said that Mr. Hinchey put himself through the State University of New York at New Paltz working as a night-shift toll collector on the New York State Thruway. He also earned a master’s degree at the university and did advanced graduate work in public administration and economics at the State University of New York at Albany.

Mr. Hinchey is survived by his wife, Ilene Marder Hinchey; his children, Michelle, Joseph and Reese; his sister, Patricia, and his brothers, Michael and John; and four grandchildren.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said in a statement on Wednesday that he had known Mr. Hinchey since the two served together in the State Assembly in the 1970s.

“‘Mighty Moe’ as I used to call him was a man of great conviction, principle, endless energy and rare legislative ability,” Mr. Schumer said. “He cut a unique figure throughout the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier, and was passionately committed to the environment and to preserving that region’s priceless open and wild spaces. He will be sorely missed.”

Speaking in 2000 to The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., about his career in public service, Mr. Hinchey said, “I know that I’m a better fighter than most people, and I’m happy to employ those skills on their behalf.”

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