ALBANY – Former long-time state Sen. Frank Padavan, a Queens Republican best known for being one of the Legislature’s fiercest anti-gambling critics, has died. He was 83.
A source said he died Tuesday of heart attack at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Padavan, one of a handful of elected Republicans from the city serving in the Senate, represented his Queens district from 1973 through 2010. He left after being defeated by Democrat Tony Avella.
Padavan, an engineer by trade who lived in Bellerose, also was a reserve member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer for 30 years, rising to the rank of colonel.
He grew up in Elmhurst and received an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and a master’s in business administration from New York University.
Before serving in the Senate, he worked as an engineer at Westinghouse Electric Corp. and was a deputy commissioner at the New York City buildings department.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County) described Padavan as “a man of conviction whose work on behalf of his constituents was never truly done.”
“I am truly saddened to learn of the passing of former New York State Senator Frank Padavan, an exemplary public servant who represented his Queens constituents with character and integrity for nearly 40 years,” Flanagan said. “While in office, no one did more to help the City of New York than Frank Padavan.”
The Queens County Republican Committee in a tweet called Padavan “a champion of the Republican Party and the NYS Senate” and said “you will be sorely missed. Our condolences are extended to the Padavan family.”
Queens City Councilman Eric Ulrich said in a tweet his fellow Republican was “a staunch advocate for his NE Queens district and a fighter for the forgotten middle class. Overall, he was an absolute gentleman and raised the bar for public service.”
Padavan was known for being cantankerous and a maverick within his GOP conference.
He was a stauch opponent to gambling and vehemently opposed successful efforts to expand the Lottery.
Padavan accused the state of “seducing” those who can least afford it with endless ads promoting the Lottery.
Asked once by the Daily News why more people are playing the big-bucks games, Padavan replied: “Desperation. . . . The state is encouraging it.”
Padavan was a staunch conservative whose vote against a bill to legalize gay marriage helped sink the measure in 2009. It wasn’t until two years later, when he was out of office, that the measure became law.
Besides his independent streak and his opposition to gambling, Padavan was also known for his 1978 bill that made it easier to open community- based group homes for the mentally ill.
Longtime Capitol insiders also remember the time during a GOP-leadership coup in 2009 that shut down business for a month that Padavan briefly walked through the back of the chamber, which the Democrats used to declare a quorum and start passing bills. Padavan said he was merely cutting through the chamber as a shortcut to the members’ lounge so he could get a can of soda, or, as he said later, a cup of coffee. He was not present to vote on any bills, which were never signed by then Gov. David Paterson.
Padavan was predeceased by his wife, Johanne Padavan. He is survived by two adult children, Scott and Allison.