Education, housing development, politics, not to mention raising a family with her husband, Philip; there was never a challenge too big for Edythe J. Layne. A 45-year resident of Roslyn and a longtime community activist and educator, Layne passed away on March 2 at her residence in Aventura, FL. She was 92 years old.
Layne was born in Brooklyn and graduated from Erasmus High School. She later earned degrees from both Barnard College (BA, economics) and Columbia University (MA, political science and government). Layne was a teacher and for more than 50 years, was actively involved in Republican Party politics and community affairs.
From 1958 until her retirement in 1980, Layne taught social studies in both the Roslyn and Manhasset public school systems. From 1971 to 1984, Layne was a member and eventually, chairwoman of the Town of North Hempstead Community Development Agency. In that capacity, Layne was instrumental in rehabilitating blighted areas throughout the North Shore, including the Roslyn Station Plaza Project in Roslyn Heights, the Spinney Hill project in Great Neck and the New Castle project in Westbury.
In between all of this activity, Layne found time to run for public office herself. In 1974, Layne won the Republican Party nomination for that year’s United States House of Representatives race for the Sixth District, which encompassed the Roslyn area. In the wake of Watergate and Richard Nixon’s recent resignation, it was a tough year to be a Republican anywhere in America and Layne fell short in her challenge to Lester L. Wolff, a five-term incumbent. Layne ran on a platform of advancing women’s participation in government, national energy self-sufficiency and health care reform.
That loss hardly deterred Layne, as she remained involved in both politics and education. Malcolm Wilson, who succeeded Nelson Rockefeller as the state’s governor, appointed Layne to the board of trustees at SUNY-Farmingdale. Layne also remained a member of the state’s Republican Party committee, assisting in political campaigns on a town, county, state and federal level. In 1994, when George Pataki defeated Mario Cuomo in that year’s gubernatorial race, Layne was instrumental in increasing the Republican vote in the mostly Democratic Roslyn area. For that effort and for her longtime service to the GOP, Layne was appointed, once again, this time by Governor Pataki, to the board of trustees of SUNY-Farmingdale, a position that she enjoyed greatly. On the county level in 1993, Layne was first a board member and then commissioner of the Nassau County Tax Assessment Review Commission.
Layne was married for more than 50 years to her late husband, Philip Layne, an investment banker. Layne also had a role in her husband’s business, helping to prepare and draft securities offering documents underwritten by Philip Layne and Company.
Layne is survived by three sons, Fredric (Linda), Jonathan (Sheryl) and Douglas (Lisa), plus four grandchildren, Scott, Shelby, Jennette and William, and one great-grandchild, Connor.