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Queens residents remember former Governor Mario Cuomo

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Tim Fleischer reports from Jamaica, Queens. (WABC)

Mario Cuomo was a giant in New York politics, with his roots planted deeply in our area.

He grew up in Queens, went to school there and stayed in the state, turning down a Supreme Court nomination.

St. John's University was big part of Mario Cuomo's education, not once but twice. But his true loyalty was to his native Queens.

Born and raised in Queens, Mario Cuomo will be remembered for his strong ties and loyalty to this borough of hard-working middle class families.

"Hard work. He was very ambitious, hard worker. (He got that from his dad?) Oh yeah," said Don Kane, a neighbor.

Mario Cuomo grew up behind the small grocery store run by his parents in South Jamaica.

From his father, he learned the value of hard work, putting in his time at the store on weekends.

He went to PS 50, where the flag was at half-staff in his honor, and later to St. John's Prep.

Don Kane, who lives just around the corner from where Cuomo lived on Rio Drive, fondly remembers the three-term governor.

Just a regular guy, a terrific man," Kane said.

His ambitious nature would then take him to St. John's University for his first of two degrees.

There too he carried on the school's strong sports tradition playing baseball.

"He was a true son of St. John's," a school statement reads, "a committed student- athlete and double alumnus."

After graduating, he signed as an outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates. But his professional career would end after an injury.

With the $2,000 signing bonus, he bought an engagement ring for a girl named Matilda.

Until the day he died they were rarely apart.

"My sister-in-law called me up this morning and told me and I felt very bad," Kane said.

He went back to St. John's University, this time to their School of Law earning a degree with top honors.

He and Matilda would raise their family in Queens and even after he became governor, Queens residents say he never forgot what was important.

"I think he cared a lot about the people and the communities and I think he did quite a bit," a resident said.

"I think he was a wonderful governor. I think he did a lot and I think he made Queens very proud," another resident said.

Related Topics:
politicsmario cuomoobituaryJamaica (QN12)
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