Francis O’Rourke Jr.’s son wasn’t quite 3 years old in 1970 when he took the wrapping off a sign naming the parking lot in front of the Eastchester Public Library in honor of his grandfather, longtime Supervisor Francis X. O’Rourke.
On Tuesday, town officials gathered again to hang a new sign and re-dedicate the recently renovated plaza. Once again Francis O’Rourke III was there. “And he didn’t have to stand on a ladder to reach the sign,” joked his father.
While visitors to the plaza might not immediately notice the sign, it honors a nine-term supervisor whose name is also on O’Rourke Memorial Little League Park.
“You want to honor and pay respect to a man who gave the best part of his life to the Town of Eastchester,” said former Supervisor Anthony J. Colavita, who was appointed to replace O’Rourke in 1970. “He was the supervisor who led the town in buying the old Oak Ridge Clubhouse, which they converted to the town hall. He put together the recreation Little League field on Garth Road. He loved baseball and he loved children.”
Colavita served five terms himself, and today his son, Anthony S. Colavita, is on his fifth term and plans to seek a sixth in the November election.
The elder Colavita called O’Rourke his mentor and friend and a “great leader” for almost two decades. “I would not have done anything politically or governmentally without him. He was like a second father to me,” Colavita said, recalling the years when they were next-door neighbors and his children were young.
“He was a very dear friend of mine,” he said. “My wife is 100 percent Irish American, and she always kids, ‘Where would you have been without an Irish man named Francis O’Rourke?’ ”
O’Rourke Jr. said the ceremony meant a lot to his family. “The fact that the town and both Tony the elder and Tony the younger wished to re-dedicate the plaza to my father was one of the most heartwarming moments I’ve had,” he said.
Photos: The original dedication was held in 1970. The re-dedication on June 18 included, from left: Margaret Colavita, James O’Rourke, Thomas O’Rourke, Suzanne O’Rourke, Francis III O’Rourke and Francis Jr. O’Rourke, Supervisor Anthony S. Colavita, former Supervisor Anthony J. Colavita, Paul Chrystal, Hector DiLeo, Ken Herbert and Brian Chrystal. Contributed photos.