Maurice Hinchey, who represented much of the Southern Tier in Congress for two decades, has died. He was 79

Hinchey died Wednesday afternoon at his home in Saugerties. He had been diagnosed with a type of dementia several years ago.

Hinchey first was elected to the House of Representatives in November 1992. He retired from Congress in January 2013.

Hinchey was born in New York City in 1938. His first successful political campaign was in 1974, when he was elected to the New York State Assembly.

Maurice Hinchey on the Binghamton University campus for a visit by President Barack Obama on August 23, 2013. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

After leaving Congress, Hinchey made few public appearances. He was in good spirits when he spoke with a reporter in August 2013 when he visited Binghamton University's Vestal campus for President Barack Obama's appearance.

Among those reacting to news of Hinchey's death was U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. On Twitter, Schumer said he had known Hinchey since they served together in the state Assembly. Schumer said Hinchey was "passionately committed to the environment" and to preserving the region's open spaces.

Zephyr Teachout, who sought the Democratic nomination for New York governor in 2014, called Hinchey "one of the greatest Congressmen ever." She said he was "fierce and human and clear about what America was and could be."

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