Theodore Dusanenko, retired teacher, former Clarkstown supervisor, dies at age 71

Longtime community leader, Republican lawmaker was key player in county government

BY BILL DEMARSET

Theodore Dusanenko when he served his second stint in the Rockland County Legislature.
Theodore Dusanenko when he served his second stint in the Rockland County Legislature.

VALLEY COTTAGE – Theodore R. Dusanenko, whose career in education, service to the community and leadership role in local politics made him a household name in Rockland County, has died at age 71, according to family members.

Dusanenko was a former Republican supervisor of the Town of Clarkstown and a former member of the Rockland County Legislature. In his retirement from government, Dusanenko was active in real estate sales.

A note from his family posted on Facebook Monday announced Dusanenko’s death.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share with you that Theodore Dusanenko passed away. He will be remembered for his passion as a school teacher and his heart in Rockland County politics. Our family appreciates your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. We will let you know of funeral arrangements in Rockland County as soon as they become available.

On behalf of his family, thank you.”

Born Jan. 28, 1942 to Theodore B. and Harriet Dusanenko, his early childhood was spent in the Bronx – 167th Street and College Avenue – and at age 14 he moved to New City and attended Clarkstown High School. He was a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany and became a math teacher and wrestling coach at Clarkstown North High School in New City.

In politics, Dusanenko in 1985 challenged Haverstraw Democrat John T. Grant in the first race for the newly created position of county executive. Grant was the winner and went on to serve two terms in the post. Dusanenko served in the pre-county executive county Legislature from 1970 to 1985 and then returned to the Legislature in 1990 and remained until 2007.

Ted Dusanenko in his retirement.
Ted Dusanenko in his retirement.

Before the creation of the county executive, the Legislature and its committees directly ran Rockland’s county government and legislators who held key leadership roles became power brokers. The day-to-day operations were turned over to the executive when Grant took office.

In Clarkstown, Dusanenko was supervisor from 1980 to 1985 and then served as a Town Board member from 1992 to 1995.

Dusanenko counted among his accomplishments:

– More than doubling the amount of senior citizen housing in Clarkstown

– Launching the New City Ambulance Corps’ youth corps. He was active in the ambulance corps for 13 years.

– Launching Clarkstown’s Youth Court

– The county’s purchase of hundreds of acres of land for parks and conservation.

– The county’s construction and expansion of the Fire Training Center in Pomona.

– The county’s construction of key buildings at the health complex in Pomona.

Rockland County Legislature member Ed Day, R-New City, called Dusanenko a “true believer.”

“He felt that by his everyday actions as an elected representative that he could make a positive difference in people’s lives,” Day said. “In the final analysis, is this not what each and every elected official should strive for? Rest in Peace, Ted. You were a good man and heaven’s gain is our loss.”

In a message on Facebook, Ramapo town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence mourned Dusanenko’s death.

“I loved Ted from the time he served with my father in the Rockland County Legislature to the time we served together in the Legislature and our many trips together for the Solid Waste Management Authority,” St. Lawrence said. “He will truly be missed by all his friends in Rockland and Florida, too. He always performed his public service with honor and dignity. God Bless his eternal soul and may God Bless his entire family. I will never forget him. All my prayers.”