NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo was memorialized on Tuesday, at a ceremony that drew political luminaries from around the United States, as a humble man of simple tastes who adored his family.
Cuomo, a three-term governor, and a leading voice of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing, he died at his home last Thursday at age 82, only hours after his son Gov. Andrew Cuomo was inaugurated for a second term.
In his eulogy, Andrew Cuomo described his father as a loving man who was more of a philosopher than a politician, a man who hated bureaucracy, loved playing basketball and could be a “ferocious opponent” or a “powerful ally.”
“If my father thought he was fighting the right fight, it didn’t matter if he thought he was going to win or lose.”
Among the mourners was New York Mayor Bill de Blasio who along with other political leaders were bundled up against the snow as they arrived at the landmark Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue, where funerals were held for former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and fashion designer Oscar de la Renta.
Former President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also attended.
“He wanted a simple, local funeral with little fanfare,” Pastor George Witt said, looking out over the crowded church and getting a collective laugh in response.
Witt described Cuomo as someone who inspired love and respect.
Governor of New York from 1983 through 1994, Cuomo rose to national prominence as keynote speaker at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, criticizing the policies of President Ronald Reagan and the Republican party.
During his tenure, Cuomo strongly backed spending for education and social welfare. Avidly opposed to capital punishment, he vetoed a dozen bills that would have reinstated the death penalty in New York.
“Fundamentally, my father was a humanist,” the younger Cuomo said. “He was very concerned with how people were treated.”
Cuomo was born in the New York City borough of Queens to Italian immigrant parents.
Despite his considerable impact as a politician, he turned down several invitations to seek the U.S. presidency.
He was hospitalized on Nov. 30 for a heart condition and died on Jan. 1.
His younger son, Chris Cuomo, works for CNN’s “New Day.”
Cuomo is also survived by his wife of 60 years, Matilda, daughters Maria, Margaret and Madeline and 14 grandchildren.
A private burial was scheduled at a cemetery in Queens.
Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Andre Grenon and Gunna Dickson