Queens leaders mourn GOP Chairman Ragusa

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Phil Ragusa, chairman of the Queens Republican Party, died Tuesday surrounded by his family after a short battle with leukemia, the party said.

Ragusa, who lived in Whitestone, had headed the Queens GOP party since 2007, according to spokesman Robert Hornak.

“Chairman Ragusa will be remembered for his integrity and commitment to the democratic process and was viewed by many as not just a friend but a mentor,” Hornak said.

Ragusa was 74.

Former Bayside Councilman Dan Halloran, who was charged last year with trying to get state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) on the Republican mayoral ticket through a bribery scheme and is now on trial in federal court in White Plains, N.Y., posted his remembrances about Ragusa on his Facebook page.

“He was a great man and devoted to the GOP and his community,” Halloran wrote. “The stress the government put on him in his last few days was unconscionable. I’m sorry that my circumstances contributed to that stress.”

Federal prosecutors had wanted Ragusa to testify in the corruption case. Vincent Tabone, the former vice chairman of the Queens Republican Party, was a co-defendant with Halloran along with Smith in the trial until the government severed their cases from Halloran’s earlier this month.

“Phil was always a gentleman with me and tried to be there for so many. He was a true patriot,” Halloran wrote on social media. “I trust he will find his way home to his loved ones on the other side and finally be at rest.”

Tabone called Ragusa “a genuine civic leader who volunteered countless hours of his time and energy and by his example inspired many young people to do likewise.”

“In short, he rolled up his sleeves and led by example and was truly the proverbial unsung hero. He will be sorely missed and remembered with deep admiration and affection by all who really knew him. My thoughts and prayers go out to all his family and friends,” Tabone said in a message.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) issued a statement saying, “I’m saddened to learn about the passing of Chairman Ragusa. He was a decent and honorable man who for many years worked tirelessly to help improve his community and his party.”

Updated 9:36 pm, June 24, 2014
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Reader feedback

Joseph Papillo from Trinity , Florida says:
My friendship with Phil began over 40 years ago, at a political fuction. We were campaigning for various candidates. Phil loved politics and was a true Republican.

Iasked him to run for Chairman in the 26AD. He won. Phil served as President of the Whitestone Republican Club and later became the District Leader in the 26th AD. He was serving as chairman of the Queens County Republican Party until his passing. Phil and I attended many party functions together and were delegates or alternates to many Republican National Conventions.
While in N.Y., I visited Phil at Sloan Kettering and on leaving asked him to visit us in Fla. and he replied " I'll see you in Heaven".

A man of integrity, he will be greatly missed." Rest in Peace my friend."
June 30, 2014, 9:48 am

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