ObituariesThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Former Cortlandt Supervisor Jack Gaffney Dies at 86

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Former Cortlandt Supervisor John “Jack” Gaffney, who served 14 years on the Town Board, died March 27 peacefully at his home in Tampa, Florida, surrounded by his family. He was 86.

Gaffney served one term as supervisor from 1990-91 following a 12-year stint as a councilman. During his two-year tenure as the town’s chief executive, he accomplished several historically significant events for the town, including successfully lobbying for a Cortlandt Manor postal zip code designation and acquiring Cortlandt’s first town-owned Town Hall.

“He knew what he was doing. He was always on top of things,” said Jack Pettersen, who served as Central Operations Director under Gaffney. “He was a great supervisor to work for.”

Former Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi, who was Gaffney’s running mate in 1987 and then defeated him in a closely contested four-way race in 1991, praised Gaffney for his devotion to his family and the community.

“I knew him for many years before being elected since his three children and my children are similar in age and went through their school years together. I know how devoted Jack was to his children and later to his grandchildren,” Puglisi said. “He even was a youth soccer coach for years in our community. Jack Gaffney was very friendly to everyone, had many friends and a loving family. He had a very dynamic personality and a big laugh that made people gravitate to him. Of course, he had his serious side and was a successful businessman. Jack Gaffney will be truly missed.”

Former Cortlandt Conservative Party Chairman Gustave Allmacher said he and Gaffney sparred politically but shared a friendship.

“Him and I were political enemies, but we were personal friends. Jack and I had a healthy respect for each other,” Allmacher said. “We were both lucky enough to make enough money in our lives that we weren’t looking for jobs and we could do whatever we wanted with our lives.”

Gaffney was born in New York, New York to Elizabeth and Harry Gaffney on July 16, 1936. He graduated from Gorton High School in Yonkers in 1954. He joined the Air Force in 1960 and was honorably discharged in 1967 after having served two years of active duty and five years in the Reserves. While stationed at Laredo Airforce Base in Laredo, Texas, he met his wife, Irma Contreras, and married on June 6, 1964. They were married for 58 years.

Gaffney graduated from New York University in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. He went on to work at IBM for many years before co-founding a high-tech computer software company, Data Switch, in Danbury, Connecticut. He sold the company and retired from corporate life in 1988.

After leaving Cortlandt government, Gaffney was appointed to several high level positions within New York State Governor George Pataki’s administration, including Director of Special Projects at the NYS Empire State Development Corporation and head of the New York State Bridge Authority.

In the Cortlandt community, Gaffney served as Chairman of Westchester Crime Stoppers. He held a senior role with his Catholic parish, Holy Spirit Church in Cortlandt, and played a pivotal role in building their new chapel in 1979. He was also very active with several local charities and had a warriors servant heart for people.

In his spare time, Gaffney was a fitness enthusiast, marathon runner and true adventurer. He ran the New York City Marathon, amongst other long distance races, and took part in several mountain climbs all over the world, including the Matterhorn. He participated in a dog sledding expedition in Baffin Bay, Canada, a desert survival mission in Death Valley, several multi-day rafting expeditions and sailed the Atlantic on small crew sailing vessels. He was also an avid cyclist and triathlete.

Besides his wife, Gaffney is survived by three children, Mark Gaffney, Sara Gaffney Mahoney (Kieran Mahoney) and Scot Gaffney (Michelle Abry Gaffney); and 10 grandchildren: Kieran Mahoney, Tyler Gaffney, Jack Mahoney, Madeline Gaffney, Isabel Mahoney, Aidan Mahoney, Bella Bateman, Allie Bateman, Liam Gaffney and Luke Gaffney.

Funeral services were held April 1 in Tampa, Florida. A Celebration of Life for Gaffney will be held in New York in late April. The Gaffney family requests any donations in Gaffney’s name cane be made to My Sisters’ Place NY, an organization co-founded by his sister, Kitty Sanchez, dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable women and children in New York.

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