Oct. 6, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Longtime local leader Ivan Lafayette died this week at the age of 86 after more than 30 years of public service as an Assembly Member covering parts of Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst.
Born and raised in New York, Lafayette served in the Army from 1952 to 1954, before moving with his family to Jackson Heights, where he resided for the rest of his life.
Lafayette was elected to the State Assembly in 1976, despite having had no prior political experience. He served the 34th District on the Assembly for 32 years, before stepping down from the position in 2008.
Over the course of his time on the Assembly, Lafayette served as leader of the Queens delegation, speaker pro tempore and deputy speaker.
When he retired, he told the Times Ledger that one of his greatest achievements in his time on the Assembly was helping to establish a statewide pre-kindergarten education program in the 1980s.
During his time in the Assembly, he worked as an advocate for schools and small businesses, and also helped pass a law penalizing drivers without insurance. He was also an early supporter of same-sex marriage.
His successor, Assembly Member Michael DenDekker remembered Lafayette, saying in a statement, “While Mr. Lafayette’s 34 years of accomplishments and leadership in Albany were commendable, he will be best remembered as a pillar in our community, as someone who loved and fought for the families of Jackson Heights over his entire career.”
“For 12 years, I had the honor of serving alongside him in the State Legislature and I witnessed first-hand how deeply he cared about the people he represented. Through his more than three decades of public service, Ivan touched the lives of so many,” Congressman Joe Crowley said in a statement.
Lafayette was born on July 28, 1930 in Monticello, NY.