At a funeral ceremony on Monday July 15, his body was brought to St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church in Woodside in a horse-drawn carriage. Firefighters played the bagpipes and Boy Scouts held American flags as the funeral procession made its way into the church.
McCaffrey was well known for his quick wit, political skills and outspoken ways in the City Council.
He is perhaps most famous for spearheading legislation that required adult entertainment businesses to be located a certain distance from churches, schools and residences.
Even before landing in the City Council, McCaffrey proved his dedication to his community, serving as Community Board 2 chair, as well chief of staff to Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein and the late-Congressman Thomas Manton.
At his funeral, elected officials spoke highly of the McCaffrey’s legacy point out that he played an integral role in forcing ATMs to feature video cameras and establishing homeless shelters for war veterans.
“Walter McCaffrey will be sorely missed in the city and in our community,” said Joe Conley, current chair of Community Board 2. “He was a representative like no other and I don’t think that any will follow because Walter was 24/7 about his community.”
Later Conley, recalled an old saying that McCaffrey had about his district saying, “Walter had said throughout his life that he was a Woodsider by choice.”
In 2000, McCaffrey threatened to run against Congressman Joseph Crowley, but withdrew over allegations he stole funds. At his funeral, however, Crowley not only gave a kind eulogy focusing on his friendship with McCaffrey, but how he would never think of lining his own pockets.
“We always maintained a profound respect for each other,” said Crowley, who admitted that he and McCaffrey did not agree on every issue. “More often than not, though, we were on the same side.”
“He [McCaffrey] was one of the smartest and most clever elected officials in the history of Queens,” said the current councilman, Jimmy Van Bramer. “Walter will be missed by many including myself and I thank him for his years of service and contribution to our neighborhoods.”
“Wherever he was called he was there,” said Martin McLaughlin, a longtime friend of McCaffrey. “He never missed a meeting. Sometimes he neglected his finances, but he never neglected a call from anybody in the 26th Council District or even outside of it.”