Mario Cuomo remembered as voice for the people – Detroit Free Press
NEW YORK – Dignitaries from both sides of the political aisle converged Tuesday to bid good-bye to former three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo, a Democratic Party icon who left a legacy of speaking out for those without a voice or power.
As his funeral began, one of his daughters, Maria Cuomo Cole, read a quotation from the Book of Wisdom that begins, “The souls of the just are in the hands of God.”
Cuomo, 82, died at his Manhattan home on Thursday evening, hours after his son was inaugurated for a second term.
Draped in a New York state flag, his casket was carried into a Manhattan church as dozens of state police in dress uniform stood at attention, and his family — including his sons, current Gov. Andrew Cuomo and news anchor Chris Cuomo — accompanied it.
Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, state Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos and Republican-turned-independent former Mayor Michael Bloomberg were among those attending.
“Mario Cuomo ever communicated a spirit of inclusivity and care, a spirit of decency and uprightness that inspired love and respect,” said the Rev. George M. Witt, the pastor of St. Ignatius, where some of Cuomo’s five children are parishioners and several of his grandchildren have gone to school. “In the end, it was not so much the eloquence of his words that spoke to us but the eloquence of his life.”
Andrew Cuomo described his father as a leader whose politics were part-and-parcel of his beliefs, not strategies for pleasing people. He was “anything but a typical politician,” he said.
On Monday, hundreds waited in a line that stretched more than a block to pay their respects at Mario Cuomo’s wake. Vice President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, actor Alan Alda and former state Comptroller Carl McCall were among those who paid tribute to him.
Photos from Cuomo’s life were displayed — him being sworn in as governor, a wedding portrait, a black-and-white image of a young him playing stickball.
Even after hours of greeting mourners, his widow, Matilda Cuomo managed to smile as she spoke lovingly of her spouse. “He’s up there, telling God what to do. He’s working with God now,” she said.
Cuomo was most remembered for a speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, where he focused on an America divided between haves and have-nots and scolded Republican President Ronald Reagan for not working to close that gap.
He came to his stances from personal experience, the son of an Italian immigrant father who struggled economically. Because of the struggle, Cuomo “was always an outsider,” his son Andrew Cuomo said. “That’s what gave him his edge.”
Lynda Rufo, a banker lined up outside the funeral home, said her daughter was finishing law school because of Cuomo’s encouragement. “He was a part of New York,” Rufo said. “He always took the time to be there for everyone, no matter who you were or where you came from. He loved people.”
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