Hundreds line up to pay respects to former NY Governor Mario Cuomo at wake

NEW YORK -- A testament to the admiration that people have for former Governor Mario Cuomo is the line that stretches up the block on Madison Avenue near the Frank E. Campbell funeral home, and around the corner, They came to pay their respects to the family of this three-term governor.

Alongside his daughters and his girlfriend Sandra Lee, Governor Andrew Cuomo arrived for his father's wake, acknowledging the many who had come to pay their respects.

"We've lost a great man, he was a great man, more than an elected official - an icon," said Civic Leader Charlie King.

The three-term governor died Thursday evening at the age of 82, just hours after his son Andrew was inaugurated for a second term. He was remembered by both Democrats and Republicans who knew they had met a formidable opponent in Cuomo. There as a great deal of respect, remembers former Senator Alfonse D'Amato.

"Standing up for what you believe in - he did that, and he probably lost an election because of that, so we should pay tribute to a man of courage and really extraordinary intellect and a great family man," said D'Amato.

Not once, but several times, Mario Cuomo's political opponents found themselves facing off against a governor who could pay a mean game of basketball.

"He was quite the athlete - he had good elbows," says Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano.

Even though he was a standout basketball player at St. John's University, others still saw Mr. Cuomo as someone who worked to bridge the differences.

"Overall he embraced the different cultures and tried to bring us together, which is very important for New York City," said mourner Janice Mills.

Visitation is at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home on Madison Avenue, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Cuomo's funeral is at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Ignatius Loyola Church on Park Avenue. He died Thursday, hours after his son, Governor Andrew Cuomo, was inaugurated for a second term.

Cuomo served three terms as governor, from 1983 to 1994. He had recently been hospitalized for a month with a heart condition.

Mario Cuomo's last public appearance was Nov. 4th at the victory speech for his son's re-election. They are the only father-son governors in New York history.

Mario Cuomo is survived his wife, Matilda, 5 children and 14 grandchildren.

The governor spoke for the first time about his father's death publicly on Saturday, saying, "there is a hole in my heart that I fear is going to be there forever."

In the 1980s, the younger Cuomo ran some of his father's campaigns and was his adviser. The Democratic governor lost his bid for re-election to a fourth term in 1994 to Republican George Pataki.

Andrew Cuomo is postponing his state-of-the-state address until Jan. 21. It had been scheduled for Wednesday.

Exuberant and eloquent, Mario Cuomo's most memorable national moment came at the 1984 Democratic convention in San Francisco. Cuomo challenged Ronald Reagan's description of America as "a shining city on a hill" by delivering a keynote address titled "A Tale of Two Cities" - about a country split between haves and have-nots.

Bill de Blasio used the same words when campaigning and winning New York City's mayoral race last year. The mayor said all flags in the city will be at half-staff in Cuomo's honor for 30 days.

Mario Cuomo's "tale of two cities" came from personal experience. He was the son of an Italian immigrant father who struggled to make ends meet. Cuomo, whom some called a Roman Catholic kid from Queens, never forgot his background.

He once called politics "an ugly business" and never ran for president, as some Democratic leaders pushed him to do in 1988 and 1992.

Tuesday's funeral will be open to family and friends and arrangements are being made for media wishing to attend.

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