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'They don't make them like that anymore'

Former Republican chair remembered for his love of town, family, life

Harry D’Agostino spent 36 years as the chairman of the town Republican Committee, and prior to that served 13 years as a town justice for the Town of Colonie. He spent his entire life living, working and volunteering in the town that he loved until he died of heart failure while visiting his son on Friday, March 15, in Florida. He was 81.

Harry D’Agostino spent 36 years as the chairman of the town Republican Committee, and prior to that served 13 years as a town justice for the Town of Colonie. He spent his entire life living, working and volunteering in the town that he loved until he died of heart failure while visiting his son on Friday, March 15, in Florida. He was 81. Submitted Photo

— For those who knew him well, Harry D’Agostino was more than a longtime Colonie Republican party leader. He was a father figure.

“There were two very distinct sides to Harry. One was the focused and driven political leader who was strategic and able to see the big picture,” said Town Clerk Elizabeth DelTorto. “But the side that most people didn’t know is the family side.”

D’Agostino spent 36 years as the chairman of the town Republican Committee, and prior to that served 13 years as a town justice for the Town of Colonie. He spent his entire life living, working and volunteering in the town that he loved until he died of heart failure while visiting his son on Friday, March 15, in Florida. He was 81.

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Harry D'Agostino with his wife, Jan, of 57 years.

Commitment was what kept D’Agostino grounded, said DelTorto, who has him to thank for introducing her parents to each other. That commitment started at the mere age of 7 years old. While spending his summers at Burden’s Lake in Rennselaer County, D’Agostino met 5-year-old Jan, whom he married when he turned 20. They spent 57 years together, raising three children along the way – Dee Cassidy, Harry Jr. and James – and five grandchildren, until she died in 2009.

“My mother didn’t like him at first. But there was never really anybody else for him. It was truly a love story,” Dee Cassidy said. “It’s funny because he always envisioned himself going first.”

D’Agostino’s commitment to his family, whether it was taking vacations to Lake George or cooking up a feast at his home in Colonie, served as a blueprint for the way he worked within the town.

“He loved this town. This town was his life. Its well-being meant everything to him,” DelTorto said.

D’Agostino grew up in Watervliet and kept his political goals fresh in mind while attending Siena College and, later, Albany Law School. He secured a position as senior partner with the law firm D’Agostino, Hoblock, Flannery and Jeram.

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