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  Paul O'Dwyer, New York's Liberal Battler For Underdogs and Outsiders, Dies at 90
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Last EditedCraverguy  Sep 29, 2009 07:46pm
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AuthorFrancis X. Clines
MediaNewspaper - New York Times
News DateThursday, June 25, 1998 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionPaul O'Dwyer, a spirited liberal voice in New York politics from his immigrant days in the Democratic clubhouse to his glory years as a fiery anti-Vietnam War insurgent, died Tuesday night at his home in Goshen, N.Y. He was 90.

Mr. O'Dwyer had been in failing health from the effects of a stroke and died quietly in his sleep, according to his nephew and law partner, Frank Durkan.

To his deathbed, Paul O'Dwyer, a white-maned, fiercely browed advocate, embraced a raft of minority causes, identifying with indigents and immigrants, progressives and underdogs well beyond America -- from the guerrilla fighters for a Jewish home state to the diehard rebels of his beloved Ireland.

Mr. O'Dwyer was an enduring if rarely elected politician who impressed successive generations as an eloquent battler in the name of conscience. Arriving in America at age 18, he labored up from dock work and garment packing to become one of New York's leading defenders of the underclass.

"The ideals should always come first," Mr. O'Dwyer counseled in a long public life steeped in voluntary civil-rights battles and vociferous challenges of the political establishment.

Elected twice to the New York City Council, he seemed more at home in the politics of the outsider. As an Irishman who had lived under British occupation, he heartily joined the ongoing American struggle against prejudice suffered variously by Jews, blacks, women and the very latest immigrant wave.

"Politics is the only machinery around on which you can really straighten things out," he said in his softly unyielding brogue.
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