Funeral for former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Democratic Party champion

Mario Cuomo: ‘He’s up there, telling God what to do’

Friends and family gather for funeral of former governor

Former New York governor Mario Cuomo  in March 2012. (AP photo)

Former New York governor Mario Cuomo in March 2012. (AP photo)

NEW YORK — The standard bearers of the Democratic Party are joining family and friends for a final goodbye to one of their champions, former three-term New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who left a progressive legacy of speaking out for the voiceless and powerless.

Cuomo’s funeral was scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Ignatius Loyola Church on Park Avenue in Manhattan. It followed a wake on Monday, where hundreds of mourners waited in a line that stretched more than a block to pay their respects.

Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton were among those expected Tuesday. Other high-profile mourners were at the wake Monday, including Vice-President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, actor Alan Alda and former state Comptroller Carl McCall.

Cuomo, 82, died in his Manhattan home on Thursday evening, hours after his son Gov. Andrew Cuomo was inaugurated for a second term. The governor postponed his State of the State address, scheduled for Wednesday, until Jan. 21.

At the funeral home on Monday, wreaths of red and white roses and floral bouquets blanketed the room. A state flag covered Cuomo’s casket, next to which stood his wife, Matilda. Photos from Cuomo’s life were displayed — him being sworn in as governor, their wedding portrait, a black-and-white image of a young Cuomo playing stickball.

Even after hours of greeting mourners, Matilda Cuomo still 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.

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.”

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.

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