William Francis Bleakley was elected as Westchester's first county executive in November 1938. A Republican and former State Supreme Court Justice who ran unsuccessfully against Herbert Lehman for Governor, Bleakely was immediately faced with the prospect of reducing the massive debt incurred while building the county's parkway system. At the time, the debt consumed half of the county's budget. Within three years he reduced the debt from $106 million to $90 million and reorganized major county departments. Judge Bleakley resigned in August 1941, and was appointed by Governor Lehman as Moreland Act Commissioner to investigate Workmen's Compensation Law violations.
Bleakley was born Nov. 11, 1883 in Verplanck and graduated from Drum Hill High School in Peekskill. He studied at Cornell University, received his law degree there and was admitted to the bar in 1905. He was elected to the City Court in Yonkers in 1917. Endorsed by both major parties, he was elected as county judge in 1922, and to the New York Supreme Court in 1928. He was respected for his sound judgment and vast professional learning.
Judge Bleakley died on Oct. 2,1969 after an illness of several years.