Geraldine Ferraro's Wake Draws Family, Friends and Political Leaders
By Amy Zimmer and Ben Fractenberg
Mourners ranging from former Gov. Mario Cuomo and former Mayor Ed Koch to media personalities like Matt Lauer gathered to remember Ferraro, the first woman to run as a vice presidential nominee for a major party when she ran alongside Walter Mondale on the Democratic ticket in 1984.
"She was brilliant. She was tough. She was loyal. She was beautiful," Cuomo said. "She also had a terrific sense of humor."
Cuomo's wife, Matilda, recalled a four-decades-long friendship with Ferraro.
"We were Queens people raising our children. It was a wonderful life. She was a wonderful mother," Matilda Cuomo said. "I would take my daughter to ballet classes and she would take hers and we would do our grocery shopping in the hour between."
Matilda Cuomo added: "She left a wonderful legacy for women. She will always be remembered."
She was a national icon but was especially a hero to those in her hometown borough.
Former Queens City Councilman Eric Gioia, who first met her as a teenager in his parents' flower shop on Roosevelt Avenue, described her as a role model within the Italian-American community.
"She showed that you can be a family person, stay true to your values and do public service," said Gioia.
The former Queens Congresswoman passed away from cancer Saturday in Boston at the age of 75. Ferraro was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1998. She was reportedly only given three years to live by doctors.
Kevin McGrath, a New York-based lawyer who attended Fordham Law School with Ferraro, recalled visiting her while she was ill. "She suffered greatly," he said. "Her husband was with her every moment."
McGrath also remarked on Ferraro's commitment to her family. "She was much more than a politician. She was a perfect lady, a caring mother, a great grandmother," he said. "She never lost the value of family."
A private funeral for family and friends was planned for Thursday at the Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer on East 66 Street.
"Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life," said President Barack Obama after Ferraro's death. "(My daughters) Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live."