On the eve of his son Andrew’s swearing in as second term as governor of New York, Mario Cuomo has passed away at 82.
Mario Matthew Cuomo was born on June 15, 1932, in Jamaica, Queens, the third and final child of immigrants from a small village near Naples, Italy. His parents, Andrea and Immaculata Cuomo, owned a family grocery store in South Jamaica during the Great Depression.
Cuomo became a product of the outer borough’s Catholic schools and a pretty fair athlete: He excelled in baseball and basketball.
A center fielder, Cuomo even signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization when he was 19. Cuomo was hitting .244 with one homer in 81 games in his one season in the Georgia-Florida League when he was beaned by a fastball. He was blinded for a week and never played professionally again.
He went home and enrolled at St. John’s University and then its law school, where he tied for first in his graduating class. In 1952, he married Matilda Raffa, they have been married 62 years.
He served as the 52nd Governor of New York for three terms, from 1983 to 1994 and Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1979 to 1982;and Secretary of the State of New York from 1975 to 1978.