Howard Miskin, former mayor of Great Neck, dies at 89

Janelle Clausen

Howard Miskin, a founder of the Water Authority of Great Neck North, former village justice and former mayor of Great Neck, died on Aug. 25. He was 89.

Family, colleagues and residents described Miskin as a gentleman, hard worker and role model who always gave back to the community. They also recalled him as patient and a truly good person.

“He had a twinkle in his eye and always a smile on his face,” his daughter Deborah Lebodzic, a Great Neck resident, said. “I don’t think he had an angry bone in his body.”

In addition to his mayorship and push to establish the water authority, which he served on until just last year, Miskin was a village justice in Kings Point and Great Neck. He also served as deputy mayor under Robert McIntyre, who died earlier this year.

“We had a small staff and we did a lot of the work ourselves,” Miskin recalled to Newsday at the time of McIntyre’s death. “And we never took money from the village except expenses.”

During Miskin’s terms as mayor, from 1981 to 1985, he oversaw a moratorium on commercial development. This was so officials could “stop and look at where the village is heading,” The New York Times reported in 1981.

Lebodzic said Miskin served on numerous committees in the village and played a big part in gaining senior citizen housing on Middle Neck Road.

“He was quintessentially ethical and he was a mayor who understood he was serving the people and he wasn’t serving himself,” said Rebecca Gilliar, 74, who helped form a civic association at the time.

“I actually can’t imagine a better mayor, a person more suited to public service and more capable of doing what the community needed,” Gilliar added.

Kings Point Police Commissioner George Banville, a lieutenant at the time of Miskin’s judgeship, recalled watching him in local court and conversations they had as friends. He described Miskin as a “genius” and a great person to work with.

“He was always insightful, very helpful, and tried to always ferret out the facts,” Banville said.

Miskin was born in Astoria and settled in Queens after World War II, having served in the U.S. Army. He then attended Purdue University, where he met his future wife, Lenore, and studied mechanical engineering.

Afterward, Miskin graduated from Harvard Law School and practiced patent and trademark law. He then worked as a senior partner of Miskin and Tsui-Yip, a law firm specializing in intellectual property litigation.

Lebodzic said that while Miskin constantly worked and was proud of creating the Water Authority of Great Neck North, something else topped his list of accomplishments.

“Raising his four children and seeing his grandchildren,” Lebodzic said.

Miskin is survived by Lenore Miskin, his wife of 64 years, his daughters Cynthia Lapin, Leslie Cunningham and Deborah Lebodzic, a son, Stephen Miskin, a brother, Norman Miskin, and nine grandchildren.

Temple Beth-El conducted services on Aug. 28 in Great Neck. Miskin was buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Queens.

“Few, very few people, develop over the course of a lifetime an enduring legacy,” Paul Cunningham, Miskin’s son-in-law, said at the funeral. “Howard Miskin was one of those men.”


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