CAREY REMEMBERED FOR FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP
By JAMES BARRON
Former Gov. Hugh L. Carey was remembered on Thursday as a leader who steered New York City and the state through the financial turbulence of the 1970s, a time that some mourners at his funeral said had been echoed in recent fights about government and spending.
“As governor, he faced both a state and a city which, in the words of his friend Mayor Koch, were headed toward the pit of bankruptcy,” Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the retired archbishop of New York, said at the Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “And he took the matter in hand, with incredible skill and unlimited courage.”
In his homily, Cardinal Egan praised Mr. Carey’s “extraordinary accomplishments in the area of fiscal responsibility” and said every editorial about Mr. Carey he had seen since his death on Sunday at age 92 had “treated him and his achievements as governor with admiration and gratitude.”
“Not a few, I might add, have ended their observations with the hope that a Hugh Carey kind of leadership will emerge in the frightening situation in which our nation finds itself today,” Cardinal Egan said.
Underscoring Mr. Carey’s status as one of New York’s looming political figures, the funeral attracted a long line of political leaders, and Mr. Carey, a Democrat, received bipartisan praise. Among the mourners were Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat; his father and Mr. Carey’s immediate successor, Mario M. Cuomo, also a Democrat; Mr. Cuomo’s successor, George E. Pataki, a Republican; and his successor, Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat.
Nearby were Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, an independent; former Mayors Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, David N. Dinkins, a Democrat, and Edward I. Koch, a Democrat; Senator Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat; Representative Charles B. Rangel, a Democrat; Representative Peter T. King, a Republican; former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, who ran the state’s Urban Development Corporation and later the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as chairman under Governor Carey; and former Gov. Brendan T. Byrne of New Jersey, a Democrat who held office at roughly the same time as Mr. Carey.
But no elected officials spoke during the service. One of his grandsons, Erich Collins Carey, performed “The Ballad of the Great Hugh Carey,” and several of his surviving children spoke toward the end of the service, mentioning, among other things, the pancakes he made (and flipped) in the shape of their initials and the Bösendorfer piano he bought from Frank Sinatra.
“His life is a great example of making things work,” one of his sons, Bryan J. Carey, said. “Government worked. Faith worked.”
His daughter Nancy Carey Cassidy said Mr. Carey’s commitment to a solution that included labor leaders was “well chronicled” in the book “The Man Who Saved New York,” published last year.
“My father took great pride in knowing that Governor Cuomo sent copies of the book to key legislative and union leaders during his campaign,” she said, referring to the current governor. “The message was clear: Hugh Carey’s leadership brought together a concerned, motivated and unlikely coalition to do whatever was necessary to maintain the city and state’s credibility.”
His daughter Marianne Carey Hayes said he was “larger than life, or as we referred to him, ‘Huge.’ ”
“Time spent with him was ‘Huge duty,’ ” she continued, “and it had enormous perks.”
She also recalled the holiday presents in a household that came to have 14 children. “Many a Christmas Eve, he worked to the wee hours with our mother to make sure all 14 piles were equal,” she said. Later in his life, she said, he took his grandchildren to the F. A. O. Schwarz toy store, “where he would play Santa Claus” while “he himself marveled at the Lionel train sets that he always longed for but never had as a boy in the Depression.”
After the service, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly called Mr. Carey “a hero in every sense of the word: a tremendous administrator, a tough guy when he had to be tough.” He said he remembered an encounter when Mr. Carey was governor and he was the commander of the 88th Precinct in Brooklyn, and another, in the 1990s, when he and Mr. Carey were waiting to shake hands with President Bill Clinton. Mr. Carey gestured toward Mr. Kelly, and his fingernail nicked Mr. Kelly’s chin.
“So I’m bleeding,” Mr. Kelly said. “I put the handkerchief on my chin and walk up like that” to shake hands with Mr. Clinton.
Mr. King praised Mr. Carey, saying: “He’s an adult. He really is. That’s exactly what we need. He got the job done.”
In 1982, as he prepared to leave office, Mr. Carey said, “I would like to be remembered as somebody who cared a great deal about people.” But for many at St. Patrick’s, he was remembered for charting a sensible course through the financial messes he inherited. Cardinal Egan recalled a sentence from a speech Mr. Carey gave soon after he was sworn in: “Now the times of plenty, the days of wine and roses, are over.”
Cardinal Egan also described calling Mr. Carey to ask a personal favor. The cardinal did not say what it was, but Mr. Carey, he said, immediately replied: “You got it. What is it?”
“For most people the ‘you got it’ would come after the ‘what is it,’ ” he said, “but not for our beloved Governor Carey.”
CAREY REMEMBERED FOR FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP