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Hundreds Attend Memorial Service For Former County Executive Al DelBello

Mary Mancini, accompanied by Mario Tucca, sang "Memories" at Thursday's service at Tappan Hill Mansion in Tarrytown for former Westchester County Executive Alfred DelBello, who died on May 15 at the age of 80.
Mary Mancini, accompanied by Mario Tucca, sang "Memories" at Thursday's service at Tappan Hill Mansion in Tarrytown for former Westchester County Executive Alfred DelBello, who died on May 15 at the age of 80. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
An image of Al DelBello from his earliest years in politics on the cover of a program at Thursday's memorial service attended by more than 300 people.
An image of Al DelBello from his earliest years in politics on the cover of a program at Thursday's memorial service attended by more than 300 people. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Dr. Damon DelBello shared his father's love of working with his hands on big projects in the garage,
Dr. Damon DelBello shared his father's love of working with his hands on big projects in the garage, Photo Credit: Jon Craig
A painting of Al DelBello next to the speaker's podium at Thursday's memorial service.
A painting of Al DelBello next to the speaker's podium at Thursday's memorial service. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Some of Al DelBello's political colleagues, public employees, law partners and friends signed a guest book before a memorial service at Tappen Hill Mansion in Tarrytown on Thursday.
Some of Al DelBello's political colleagues, public employees, law partners and friends signed a guest book before a memorial service at Tappen Hill Mansion in Tarrytown on Thursday. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

This story has been updated.

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Westchester County's economic comebacks of the past half century were retold by Alfred DelBello's son and 11 of his closest colleagues at a memorial service.

More than 300 people attended the celebration of DelBello's life at Tappan Hill Mansion.

DelBello, 80, of Lewisboro became Westchester's first Democrat to serve as county executive in 1973 and was reelected twice. He served as lieutenant governor for three years during the late Mario Cuomo's first term as governor. DelBello died May 15 from injuries suffered in a fall .

Mario Cuomo, father of New York's current governor, Andrew of North Castle, died on Jan. 1.

DelBello, a lawyer, was remembered as much for what he accomplished privately for the county and New York state after leaving public office in 1985 as he was for public achievements beginning with his first election as a Yonkers city council member and its youngest mayor in the 1960s.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, and Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano said DelBello gave them some of the best advice of their careers, telling both that tomorrow  will bring new crises, so go home, rest up and enjoy precious time with family.

Astorino and others recalled DelBello as a pioneer in environmental issues -- capping Croton's landfill, enabling construction of one of the nation's first garbage-to-energy plants at Charles Point, creating county parks and bike paths, addressing sewage and infrastructure problems -- while advising many to get involved in public policy or campaigns.

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, for one, credited DelBello with inspiring him to run for the Westchester County Board of Legislators "when I was in 11th grade." Additional remarks by Feiner and other colleagues can be read here.

Dr. Damon DelBello shared memories of his father working on large projects in the garage, with his hands or riding a backhoe, and heated intellectual debates. He fondly recalled the access to events he got while growing up because of his father's prominence, including riding a tall ship down the Hudson River into New York Harbor during the nation's 1976 Bicentennial celebration.

In 1985, DelBello returned to the private sector as a founder of the White Plains' firm DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr. Law partner Alfred Donnellan said DelBello may have done more for the Hudson Valley's economic and social revival in the 30 years since he left government than during his 20 years in public office.

Samuel Yasgur, who served as county attorney under DelBello, remembered "kitchen cabinet" meetings at an old carriage house in Hastings, where four distinct groups of advisers were asked for insights on an issue. The final decision always was made by DelBello and his wife, Dee, according to Yasgur., who is now Sullivan County Attorney.

During DelBello's tenure as county executive, the countywide bus system was formed, emergency plans for an evacuation around Indian Point nuclear power plants were born and Westchester County Medical Center replaced the former Grasslands Hospital. DelBello also negotiated a contract with Signal Environmental Systems to build the Charles Point plant in Peekskill. He later became a top executive at Signal and its successor, Wheelabrator Technologies.

In addition to his wife, Dee, the publisher of the Westchester and Fairfield county business journals, and his son, Damon, DelBello is survived by three grandchildren.

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