Volume 79, Number 01 | June 10 - 16, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Robert Healy, 67, font of local political history

By Albert Amateau

Robert J. Healy, whose knowledge of political lore and gift for gab were legendary in Democratic Party circles in Manhattan and beyond, died on Sat., May 30, at Calvary Hospice in the Bronx at 67.

Born and raised on W. 15th St. to a longshoreman’s family, he lived for several years with his mother in the Robert Fulton Houses in Chelsea and for the last 10 years in St. Margaret’s House, a senior residence on Fulton St.

“He was a political maven and raconteur extraordinary,” said Alan Flacks, a political blogger and member of the Three Parks Democratic Club on the Upper West Side. “If you wanted to know who were the candidates in the Democratic primary in the Fifth Civil Court District in Kings County in 1990-something, he could tell you,” Flacks said.

“Anywhere I went — to a Democratic Party dinner or event — I’d see him, even in Queens, he was there,” said Carlos Manzano, a former president of the McManus Midtown Democrats and candidate for City Council in 1999 and for Manhattan Borough president in 2005.

“I don’t remember a conversation with him that wasn’t delightful,” said Assemblymember Richard Gottfried. “He was something of an iconoclast and he had very smart observations about politics and policy that made a lot of sense.”

Robert Healy was a member of several Democratic political clubs. Louise Dankberg, president of the Tilden Midtown Democrats on E. 19th St., recalled that Healy was a diligent member of the Tilden club’s executive committee. “He came to all our events and knew everything and everyone, especially in judicial politics,” she said.

He was also a dues-paying member of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, according to Doris Corrigan, State Democratic Committee member. “I think he first belonged to the Horatio Seymour Club,” she said, referring to the Tammany club in Chelsea that dissolved in the 1960s.

Jim McManus, whose grandfather founded the club of the same name, said Healy kept up with the ins and outs of Democratic politics and generously shared his knowledge.

Sean Sweeney, president of Downtown Independent Democrats, said that in a recent conversation, Healy told him he had a few Caribbean governments as lobby clients. Other friends said he was a lobbyist for healthcare industry clients, and no one was sure if he had a law degree.

“Everybody knew Bob, but nobody really knew him,” was the comment common among his friends.

Healy had been in poor health since last December when he was found in his room at the St. Margaret’s residence after having fallen and struck his head. He had been hospitalized since then and was later discovered to have a brain tumor.

A sister, Katherine Kearney of Garnerville, N.Y., survives, in addition to five nieces and nephews and 10 grandnieces and grandnephews. Redden’s Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

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