Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo Dead at 82
Just a few hours after his oldest son Andrew was sworn in to his second term as New York State Governor, Mario Cuomo died at age 82.
Andrew said in his address,
"He couldn't be here physically today ... but my father is in this room...
He's in the heart and mind of every person who is here. His inspiration and his legacy and his spirit is what has brought this day to this point."
Andrew's office said his father died of "natural causes due to heart failure" at his Manhattan apartment surrounded by his family.
As governor, Mario Cuomo battled two recessions, expanded New York's state prison system, vetoed the death penalty over and over again, and was most well known as a brilliant public speaker.
Mario Matthew Cuomo was born on June 15, 1932, in Jamaica, Queens. He was the baby of his family of five. His parents were immigrants from a small village near Naples, Italy. They owned a family grocery store in Queens during the Great Depression.
Cuomo went to Catholic school and excelled in baseball and basketball.
He even signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates when he was 19. Cuomo was beaned by a fast ball and was blinded for a week! He never played professionally again.
He went home and enrolled at St. John's University and then its law school, where he graduated at the top of his class. It was there where he met fellow student Matilda Raffa - they married in 1952 and remained married until his death.
Mario first became governor in 1982, then was reelected in 1986 and 1990 by huge margins.
His son Andrew was his most trusted adviser for much of the time.
He was defeated by a Republican state Sen. George Pataki in 1994 during his run for a 4th term.
He toyed with running for president in 1988 and again in 1992 and even turned down President Clinton for a spot on the Supreme Court.
You might remember Cuomo famously leaving an idling plane on an Albany runway after he decided not to run for president.
After his political career, Mario Cuomo became an author, writing an inspirational kids' book "The Blue Spruce" and a book about the 16th President, "Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever." In addition, some of his most famous speeches were collected for a book titled "More Than Words."
He has remained a trusted mentor and advisor to our current Governor, and his son Andrew.
In addition to his wife, Mario Cuomo is survived by Andrew, and four other children, including Chris Cuomo, an anchor on CNN.