State Assemblyman David Gantt dies at age 78

Updated: July 01, 2020 10:44 PM
Created: July 01, 2020 05:39 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — State Assemblyman David Gantt has died at the age of 78. 

An announcement was sent out by the State Assembly of New York Wednesday. The cause of his death was not mentioned.


Gantt has served as the representative of the 137th Assembly District since 1983. The district includes the northeastern and southwestern areas of Rochester as well as the Town of Gates.

He was the first Black person from Monroe County elected to hold state office.

Gantt served nine years in the Monroe County Legislature prior to joining the State Assembly.

Mayor Lovely Warren issued the following statement:

“Assemblyman David Gantt was a father to me. He loved me unconditionally and inspired me to be who I am today.  He saw something deep within me and did everything he could to help me, and countless others, achieve their dreams.  

David will leave a lasting legacy in this community because he always stood up for what was right and for the people he represented. For decades, he worked and served tirelessly to lift up our City and all of its people. He also believed in me when few did. He inspired me, took care of me when I was sick, guided me as built my career and my family. And, he will always be part of my family. He has not only lifted me up, but countless people throughout our community.

I am proud of him for all that he did to lift as he climbed.  He may be gone but he will never be forgotten.  I will always remember his undying love for the Rochester community.  He fought a good fight, finished his race and now he has gone home to be with the Lord.  I will do all that I can to live up to the expectations he had for me.  He was not just a father to me, but also my political mentor.  I will forever miss him, and on behalf of the City of Rochester, I extend my deepest condolences to his family.  May he rest in peace with the Lord.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello released the following statement:

“I am incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Assemblyman David Gantt. Assemblyman Gantt leaves a legacy of community service and activism that many in elected office aspire to achieve. Throughout his decorated 37 year career in the State Legislature, Assemblyman Gantt was a fighter, a voice for the voiceless and a mentor to numerous community leaders, elected officials and everyday citizens alike. His impact and advocacy can be seen throughout the city of Rochester and the communities that he was elected to represent for nearly four decades. His efforts in the State Assembly and his strong belief in our community will be felt for many years to come. 

I am grateful for Assemblyman Gantt’s service to Rochester and Monroe County. I join with our community in mourning the passing of Assemblyman David Gantt and will continue to keep his family, friends and loved ones in my thoughts and prayers.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the following statement:

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Assembly Member David Gantt - a career public servant who never left his neighborhood and always took care of his community.   

I've known and worked with David for decades - from my father's administration to my time at HUD through my time as governor. Like his mother Lena, David spent his career fighting poverty and advocating for the underserved. We shared a mutual respect for one another, in part because we both came from strong mothers who taught us the value of doing good for others. He was plain spoken and always let you know where he stood, and I will miss his friendship and presence in the Capitol.

On behalf of the family of New York, I send my deepest condolences to David's family and loved ones during this difficult time." 

State Assemblyman Harry Bronson released the following statement:

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of Assemblymember David Gantt. 

Assemblymember Gantt was a dedicated public servant and his legacy will live on in the hearts, minds and actions of all those he helped, lifted up and fought for over the past 45 years. 

The dean of our delegation, Assemblymember Gantt had a deep love for the city of Rochester and its families.  One of my most impactful memories of him was when he and I as Minority Leader in the County Legislature, worked closely together in developing a plan for selection of the next public defender that included the community. It was his unwavering commitment to helping us ensure that the community of color was included in the selection of the next public defender that led to our success. His formidable leadership was critical on this matter."

City Council President Loretta C. Scott released the following statement:

"I am profoundly saddened by the passing of David Gantt. I had the pleasure of calling David a close and trusted friend for over 50 years, and I will miss him dearly. Our community has lost a transformative leader, a civil rights pioneer, and a fierce advocate for equity. As the first Black leader from Monroe County elected to state office, David changed the landscape of our community and gave a voice to the disenfranchised. As an elected official, he fought for affordable housing, voting rights, access to healthcare, reliable infrastructure, and safe neighborhoods. This community was like family to David, he offered mentorship, support, guidance, and love. Like his mother, Lena Gantt, he spoke loudly with confidence and clarity, and he never backed down in his pursuit of justice. His legacy will live on through the work of those he inspired and will continue to forge a path towards a more equitable world.  My prayers are with his family and all those who loved him. May he rest in peace."

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