After writing 230 local laws into action and dedicating 41 years of service to Lynbrook, Village Attorney Peter Ledwith is retiring.
Ledwith was honored by Mayor Alan Beach and the board of trustees at its meeting on April 2. That evening, Ledwith led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance, installed village employees into their positions with a swearing in and received two standing ovations from the audience. He was also presented with a citation from Beach, who said dealing with Ledwith reminded him of being around his own father.
“You would watch your mouth,” Beach said to a roar of laughter at Village Hall. “He set an example for all of us about how we should treat each other. … This man is such a gentleman, and we could all be proud that he is from Lynbrook. I am going to tremendously miss your presence.”
Ledwith, 77, graduated from Providence College in 1962 and Fordham University School of Law in 1966. In 1969, he moved to Lynbrook with his wife, Susan, whom he has been married to for 55 years. They spent 50 of those years residing on Pearsall Avenue, where they often gathered in the dining room with their 10 children.
“If you were walking down Pearsall Avenue on a summer day, all you would hear from that dining room is laughter,” Ledwith said, as he reflected on his life and career to the audience.
Ledwith recounted that Susan would often be home alone with the children while he was studying at law school.
“She never once complained,” he said. “She never once said, ‘Take a year off and help me out.’ She never once said a word. … Starting tomorrow, we’re going to be spending more time with our kids. And we’ll do some things hand in hand, arm in arm together, and we’ll be goofing off a little bit.” He said they also planned to spend time with their 18 grandchildren.
On Sept. 9, 1969, late former Mayor Francis X. Becker appointed Ledwith prosecuting attorney for the village. Ledwith called Becker, who built Village Hall and is the father of current Trustee Hilary Becker, his hero. The rotunda at Village Hall was named in his honor last August.
Beach pointed out that Ledwith was appointed on the same night that the Mets played the Chicago Cubs in the infamous “black cat game,” in which a cat ran across the field, glared into the visitors’ dugout at Shea Stadium, and then ran off. In the following days, the Cubs blew the division lead, and the Miracle Mets went on to win the pennant and the World Series. Citing Ledwith’s love of sports, Beach presented him with a copy of Sports Illustrated from the day he was sworn in.
Ledwith served in the prosecuting role until 1983, when he became a village trustee and held the position for four years. In 1995, then-Mayor Eugene Scarpato asked him to become village attorney. He said he was busy with other duties and was not sure if he was familiar enough with municipal law, but ultimately decided to take the job. “I said yes,” Ledwith said, “and in retrospect, that was the smartest ‘yes’ I ever gave.”
Ledwith remained in the position for 23 years. His son-in-law Tom Atkinson will take over. Atkinson, who is also Ledwith’s partner at their Lynbrook law firm, which handles personal injury, medical malpractice and municipal law, served as a village trustee from 2011-15 and as an associate judge from 2015-18. He grew up in Lynbrook and attended Our Lady Of Peace School. Atkinson graduated from Villanova in 1992 and earned a law degree from Rutgers Law School in 1998.
Though it is time to retire, Ledwith said, he enjoyed all the years he spent in Lynbrook. “So it’s time to say au revoir,” he said. “It’s been wonderful.”