Basil Paterson, a political heavyweight from Harlem who was one of the members of Harlem's so-called "Gang of Four," has died at the age of 87. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Basil Paterson died Wednesday night at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, just 11 days shy of his 88th birthday. Paterson lived in a Harlem building along with his longtime friend and political ally, Rep. Charles Rangel.
"The difference between Basil and the rest of us is that nobody could ever say, never heard anyone say anything negative about Basil Paterson," Rangel said.
First elected to the state Senate in 1965, Paterson ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1970. He was appointed deputy mayor by Ed Koch in 1978, but left the post a year later to serve as New York's Secretary of State, the first African-American to hold that position.
Paterson was part of the Harlem "Gang of Four" that included Rangel, former Mayor David Dinkins, and politician-turned-businessman Percy Sutton, who died in 2009.
"I don't know whether most people know that, but we were just four friends with similar backgrounds and certainly, dedicated public service," Rangel said.
Paterson is survived by his wife and two children, including former Governor David Paterson.
Former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV is the son of former Harlem Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. He said Basil Paterson came to see his father in 1970 when Powell was locked in a bitter Democratic primary with Rangel, who was running for the first time.
"And Basil said, 'Adam, I want to be with you. None of those guys helped me when I was running,'" Powell IV said. "And my dad said, 'Listen, I have cancer. I don't have much of a political future, but you do. Go ahead and support Charlie Rangel.'"
Rangel won that race and went on to form the close political alliance with Paterson, Sutton and Dinkins.
"Basil ran for the Senate in 1965, and I ran for the Assembly in '65. We were on opposite tickets," Dinkins said.
In a statement, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "New York City has lost a progressive giant who committed his life to lifting up others. Like so many in this city, I often sought Basil's advice."