First Chair of Rockland Legislature Passes Away at 97

Lawmakers and many longtime Rocklanders remembered John B. Lovett this week, as the former public servant passed away at age 97-year-old.

Among Lovett’s offices he served six years as Orangetown town supervisor and three years as a county legislator, rising to become the body’s first-ever chairman. The County Legislature was created in the early 1970s by decree of the US Supreme Court, which stated the board of supervisors system denied equal representation to densely populated areas in the county.

“Jack Lovett cared deeply about the Orangetown community, and about Rockland County,” said Legislator Patrick J. Moroney, who also has served Orangetown as a public servant for decades. “He was born and raised in Orangetown and he was very proud of his work in creating Blue Hill Golf Course. Even today, the residents of Orangetown are able to enjoy the recreation of the course thanks to his efforts.”

A Rockland County press statement noted Lovett was remembered among other things for his support of the construction of Blue Hill Plaza in Pearl River. Blue Hill has been a boon for the economy, bringing in countless companies and taxes and jobs along with them. The other option for the land was a large public housing project.

Prior to becoming a legislator, Lovett was on the very Board of Supervisors abolished by the Supreme Court. For 170 years Rockland had been governed under the Board of Supervisor system.

Lovett’s portrait remains on display in the Legislature’s Chambers, along with others who succeeded him as chair.

He left the Legislature at the end of 1971 to become the appointed director of the Rockland County Department of Fiscal and General Services, a post described as “roughly equivalent to a county executive.”

He eventually advocated for the creation of an elected county executive’s post to help improve the efficiency of county government, according to newspaper archives. He returned to the private sector after leaving county government several years later.

“Jack was also a dedicated husband and the father of seven children,” said Moroney (R-Pearl River). “He was blessed to enjoy not only grandchildren, but great-grandchildren. I send my deepest sympathies to his family. He was a dear friend and he will be missed.”

Edited from county press release