UPPER EAST SIDE — Former Gov. Mario Cuomo was remembered at his funeral on Tuesday as a "tenacious" man who proudly wore his Queens heritage and never wavered from his beliefs.
Hundreds of mourners, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former mayors Michael Bloomberg, David Dinkins and Rudy Giulani, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch and other politicians packed into St. Ignatius Loyola Church to remember Cuomo, who died last Thursday at age 82.
"He was the working man's governor, and he remained loyal to the old neighborhood values," Gov. Cuomo said during his eulogy. "Mario Cuomo was a tenacious, incredibly strong man."
Cuomo, the Queens-born first Italian-American elected governor of New York, died in his Manhattan home from "natural causes due to heart failure," the governor's office said in a statement.
His death came hours after his son, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was sworn in for a second-term.
Gov. Cuomo said his father always remained an outsider from Queens, who thought Jesus was "probably from the outerborough," and dedicated himself to helping the people of New York.
"At his core, at his best, he was a philosopher and he was a poet and he was an advocate and he was a crusader," he said. "Mario Cuomo was a keynote speaker for our better angels."
He was also remembered as a "humble" man who wanted "a simple local funeral, with as little fanfare as possible," said Rev. George M. Witt, the pastor at the church on Park Avenue.
Witt said that aside from his love of his family, Cuomo had a great love for the state of New York and its people.
"The Cuomos knew that, in a way, the entire state of New York comprised his family, and they were happy to share him," Witt said during the service. "He touched the hearts of so very many people, and they are mourning his passing."
Aside from his son, Gov. Cuomo, he was survived by his wife of 50 years, Matilda Cuomo, his daughters Dr. Margaret Cuomo, Maria Cuomo Cole, Madeline Cuomo O'Donohue, his son Christopher Cuomo and 14 grandchildren.
The church was full of people who used to work for Cuomo, said Chuck Lesnick, who worked for Cuomo’s office in the 1980s. Back then, Cuomo “was a rock star,” and the “liberal counterpoint to [President Ronald] Reagan.”
Judy Dieter, who also worked for Cuomo’s office in the 80s said her former boss’ ideals and values drew her into public service, and “his faith and compassion kept me there."
Before he was elected governor in 1983, Cuomo served as lieutenant governor and secretary of state in the 1970s. He also practiced law for 18 years and was an adjunct professor at St. John's University Law School, his alma mater.
At the service, Gov. Cuomo said his father read his speeches word for word, and didn't care about the audience's reaction as much as the point he was trying to make.
He also touched upon recent troubles in the city, asking his father to "tell Officers Ramos and Liu that we miss them already," and vowed to help "move the city forward."
"We know what we have to do and we will do it," Gov. Cuomo said. "We will make this state a better state. On that you have my word as your son."