Most non-insiders would think Lt. Gov. Stan Lundine, Judge Joseph Gerace and Assemblyman Rolly Kidder are the three elite Democratic leaders of the past five decades. Other old-time party leaders are also surely of note including former Election Commissioner Dan Larson, former Party Chair George Ritzer and Anthony "Nin" St. George of Fredonia and each worked with Jack Dillenburg to make our party what it is today.
Dillenburg, Parment and Porpiglia believed in the mantra that government really can work for the people. They spent many waking hours looking for candidates, encouraging candidates, and supporting candidates who would serve and be guided by Democratic principals.
While always being the behind the news story leader of the Democratic Party, Dillenburg was also a strong headline-making elected official in his own right. A former Forestville village mayor, he went on to serve on the Chautauqua County Legislature from 1980 to 1987 and capped off his elected career as Arkwright town supervisor from 1990 to 2003. He was also clerk of the County Legislature from 1998 to 2002 and ran unsuccessfully for 149th NY Assembly in 1990.
In 1970, there were 33,835 Republicans and 23,435 Democrats in the county. Today due greatly to the lifetime work of Jack Dillenburg, Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the county 27,416 to 26,278. Dillenburg also saw Chautauqua County vote for Barack Obama in 2008.
Aside from politics, Jack was one of the most giving men in the history of the county. He never saw a philanthropy cause that he could not get behind. He truly loved and doted over his family, particularly the young extended family members. He truly loved his fellow man. (Even Republicans.)
Dillenburg was severely injured in a 1982 mo-ped accident. The county was found to be negligent due to road materials being left carelessly on a county road after road work. He was awarded $500,000 but lived every day following the accident in severe pain. It is ironic that his life came to an end on another nearby road near his beloved home in the Arkwright hills.
Dillenburg is survived by his wife of 45 years, Carol, daughter, Amy Farnham, and granddaughter Maeghan. Cards can be sent to the family at PO Box 383, Forestville, NY 14062. The family is planning a memorial service in the near future.