Hundreds of mourners filed past the body of Nassau County Legislator Peter Schmitt Saturday at a memorial chapel holding his wake in Massapequa.
A broad cross-section of mourners from public and private life visited the where an honor guard of Nassau County police officers stood in tribute to the fallen leader.
Schmitt, R-Massapequa, and the Legislature's majority leader, died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack. He was 62.
Schmitt was stricken while in the office of County Executive Edward P. Mangano. Schmitt was rushed to nearby Winthrop Hospital but could not be revived.
Schmitt's wife, Lois, and family members greeted the visitors and shared memories.
"We are in shock, but we are holding up," Mrs. Schmitt said, adding the family was grateful for the huge turnout. "He would have been grateful for all of this."
Inside the chapel, whose walls were lined with floral displays, visitors were able to glimpse a private side of a public man.
There were pictures of Schmitt with various family members and friends. Perhaps the most memorable were three photos of Schmitt holding his grandson, with the grandfather smiling broadly. In one photo, the little boy was yawning and the legislator was laughing.
Schmitt's casket was flanked by two flag stands: At his head, the Stars and Stripes; to the right the bright orange flag bearing the seal of Nassau County.
Schmitt was first elected to the County Legislature in 1995 and was serving his eighth term. He has been the presiding officer and Majority leader of the legislature since 2010.
His district included parts of Massapequa and Massapequa Park and parts of Seaford and North Massapequa.
Visitation continues Sunday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at the Massapequa Funeral Home, 4980 Merrick Road.
A funeral Mass will be held Monday at St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church, 2 Bayview Ave., Massapequa. The service begins at 11 a.m.