Former County Executive O'Rourke Remembered At Wake

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Leonard Spano remembers former Westchester County Executive Andrew O'Rourke, who died last week. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser
Leonard Spano, left, and Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano reflect on former Westchester County Executive Andrew O'Rourke who died last week. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser
Andrew O'Rourke served as Westchester County Executive from 1983 to 1997. Photo Credit: www.westcheser.gov

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. — Family, friends and colleagues paid their respects Monday to former Westchester County Executive Andrew O'Rourke at Clark's Funeral Home in Yorktown Heights.

O'Rourke died last Thursday at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. He was 79 and lived in Yorktown.

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and his father, Leonard, were among those in attendance who had fond memories of O'Rourke.

"He was quite the leader," Mike Spano said. "I think about a debate I saw him do once. I remember his line was, 'I promise not to tell the truth about you if you promise not to lie about me.' Those were kind of the tidbits, the one-liners he would come up with. The limitless one-liners. You don't want to be in a debate with a guy like that. He could do it with a smile on his face and make you laugh, and he was really an elected official you can be proud of."

O'Rourke was appointed county executive in 1983 and elected to full terms in 1985, 1989 and 1993. In 1997, then-Gov. George Pataki appointed him to the New York Court of Claims. In 2000, he was elected to a 14-year term on the New York Supreme Court. He retired in 2009.

O'Rourke ran for New York governor against Mario Cuomo in 1986. Cuomo refused to debate him, prompting O'Rourke to carry around a cardboard cutout of the incumbent at his campaign appearances. Cuomo won the election.

Cuomo's son and current Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the following statement about O'Rourke:

"We will miss Andy's vigor and passion for serving the public, as well as his humor which had the power to gracefully disarm political opponents as well as ease the tension of a heated debate in the courtroom. Despite our political differences, my family and I have always considered Andy a close friend and colleague, and he will be dearly missed."

Additional viewings will be held at Clark's Funeral Home, 2104 Saw Mill River Road, from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. The funeral will be held at St. Patrick's Church, 137 Moseman Road, Yorktown Heights, at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

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