Of all the memories he has of former Mayor Peter Iasillo, Sam Terenzi's favorite is a classic example of Port Chester politics and its long history of strong passions, flaring tempers and public feuds.
"The best night," Terenzi recalled, "had to be when he threw Goldie out if the meeting."
The story has become part of Port Chester political lore. These days, folks who step up to the podium at public meetings have five minutes to say their piece. But local gadfly had been at it for a half hour that night in 1988 when Iasillo lost his patience.
Solomon continued her tirade, unaware Iasillo had pushed a silent buzzer until three police officers entered the room and pulled Solomon away from the podium.
As usual, didn't mince words: "This is a dictatorship! They are dictators and storm troopers!" she yelled as the police hauled her away.
Terenzi, who served with Iasillo for five years during his original stint as a trustee in the 1980s, didn't always agree with Iasillo. But like many who recalled the former mayor after hearing of his death on Wednesday, Terenzi says he never doubted Iasillo's devotion to the village.
"Pete always had a great sense of humor and really loved being in the public eye," Terenzi recalled. "He was a great ambassador for the village."
Terenzi recalls being on opposite side of arguments with Iasillo when both were elected leaders, but the two had mutual respect for each other: "He did some things that I didn't agree with, and if I was a little more mature I probably would have handled it differently."
Iasillo, 82, died early this morning at Greenwich Hospital in CT. His son, Peter Iasillo Jr., posted a goodbye message to his father on Facebook today and said the family is working out funeral and wake arrangements.
"Your dad was always larger than life to me," Bea Sileo Bologna wrote to the younger Iasillo, one of dozens who offered condolences and memories online Wednesday morning.
The elder Iasillo spent 23 years as a public servant in Port Chester, 13 of them as mayor. He remained politically active until the end, appearing sporadically at public meetings and most recently weighing in on Port Chester's ongoing revitalization with an online post in December 2011.
In 2009, Iasillo published a 200-page book about his time in public office, titled "Was It Worth It? Recollections of a Village Mayor." Iasillo answered his own question in a teaser for the book, saying there's no place he'd rather be than Port Chester.
"My life is really great," he wrote.
Trustee Joseph Kenner said he's keeping Iasillo's family in his prayers.
"Mayor Pete (as I always referred to him) was and will continue to be a testament to what it means to be a dedicated and passionate civic leader in Port Chester," Kenner wrote to Patch this morning. "Whether you agreed with him or not, one can never say that Mayor Peter did not love Port Chester and Village politics."
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