Hugh Carey, Former NY Gov, Dies at 92


hugh-careyFormer New York Gov. Hugh Carey has died at the age of 92, his family announced today. Carey passed away peacefully at his summer home on Shelter Island early Sunday morning, according to the family’s statement.Carey served as New York’s 51st governor from 1975 through 1982. He led the rescue effort that brought New York City back from the brink of bankruptcy during its 1975 fiscal crisis.

Before serving as the state’s chief executive, Carey spent 14 years as a Brooklyn congressman, pushing for job programs and increases in welfare and unemployment benefits.

“Gov. Carey never backed away from a tough fight, but he also knew that governing meant respecting the Legislature and respecting members of the opposite party,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Sunday. “His administration was not marked with partisan fights or ideological gridlock. He used his charisma, wit, and intellect to succeed.

“His administration was one that will be remembered for its remarkable achievements and superlative competence in the operation of government, as well as the governor’s energy, enthusiasm and love of New York and for all New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.

New York City’s finances were in such a mess in early 1975 that banks refused to lend it more money. Carey enlisted support for a rescue plan that included strict oversight of all the city’s spending. He then won federal loan guarantees from the Ford administration that secured the plan.

“He was a man who took control, who refused to be pessimistic about the future of New York,” veteran NBC New York reporter Gabe Pressman recalled of Carey’s leadership during the fiscal crisis.

The plan included the creation of a unified coalition of labor leaders, managers and financiers, to steer New York City away from bankruptcy. Carey was credited for finding strong leaders to lead the rescue, a plan that seemed innovative at the time, said Pressman.

Carey signed the landmark Willowbrook Consent Decree and his administration initiated the I Love New York campaign and The Empire State Games, among other endeavors.

Carey was a decorated veteran of World War II; his unit liberated the Nordhausen concentration camp from Nazi Germany and he retired from military service with the rank of Colonel. He was awarded the Combat Infantry Award, Bronze Star and the Croix de Guerre amongst other honors.

A member of The Four Horsemen, a group of Irish-American politicians including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, Carey strived for peaceful solutions to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Carey was a graduate of St. John’s University and St. John’s School of Law.

Carey is survived by 11 children, 25 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

{NBC/ Newscenter}


  1. Former Congressman and Governor Hugh Carey had an exemplarary excellent working relationship with the Agudas Yisroel organization in general and its former director, Rav Moshe Sherer, ZT’L. Because of this, when Congressman Carey was running for governor, and when as governor, he was running for re-election, AI very strongly endorsed him and worked very hard to get him the Jewish vote. They even put campaign advertisements on their Torah publications! (I saw just one such add, but I am assuming there were more.) I well remember seeing a copy of an old edition of the Torah magazine “The Jewish Observer”; it was evidently published during the time of the first governor campaign. On its back cover was a full page campaign add; it had a photograph of Mr. Carey speaking at some kind of meeting. The caption said:

    “Hugh Carey is a GOOD Congressman. He will make a GREAT Governor!”

  2. (continuation of my previous comment)

    In 1978 – 79, I was privileged to have a job working at the Aguda office (at that time, it was at 5 Beekman Street in Lower Manhattan). As that was at the time of the governor re-election campaign, I heard from a number of the people in the office some of the reasons why AI was so supportive of Mr. Carey.

    1.) As he himself was a religious Catholic, he was very understanding of the needs of Torah observant Jews.

    2.) As he himself had had TEN children — in sharp contrast to most modern people — he obviously was NOT obsessed with doing “birth control” and would thus have respect for Torah observant Jews who had large families.

    3.) At one point, there was a massive dock workers strike at the New York City Harbor. This resulted in countless shipments of goods that had been shipped from all over the world to NY now being left on their boats or on the nearby docks, and countless businesses, institutions, and individuals who had ordered these products now unable to receive the items they needed.

    One of the institutions that was thus suffering from this strike was the Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland, Ohio. The Telshe Yeshiva is probably one of the most famous yeshivas in the world as a result of a clever fund raising operation that it does. Each year, around the late fall, it mails out to countless thousands of Jewish homes, BOXES OF CHANUKAH CANDLES. The numerous donations that people mail back for this campaign, whether in amounts of $5 or $500, give the yeshiva one of its key sources of income for the year.

    This year though, the shipment of the many thousands of boxes of candles had just come to NY from Eretz Yisroel (where they are manufactered); however, with the dock strike, the hundreds of cartons holding the boxes of candles were being held — stuck — at the NY docks!

    Obviously, to try to wait until the strike would end, was not a wise option, for it very well may not get solved until AFTER Chanuka.

    So AI informed Governor Carey of the problematic situation, and he agreed to help. He had contact made with the “right” people (in the complex web of dock owners, labor unions, etc.), and, with the appropriate tactfullness, pressured them to let these particular boxes out. And they did! So that year, like every year, Telshe Yeshiva was able to make its Chanuka candle campaign.

    4.) Through the 1970’s, the Yeshiva Torah Vodaas had very severe financial difficulties. At one point, the monetary debt of the yeshiva was so excessive that the involved banks announced that they would have to FORCLOSE on the yeshiva’s buildings, Rachmana Litzlan! Bnei Torah from that period can well remember the FULL PAGE ADD that was put in the newspaper “The Jewish Press.” On the two corners of the top of the page were two small pictures of Rav Moshe (Feinstein), ZT’L, and Rav Yaakov (Kaminetzky), ZT’L. Near the top middle of the page, was a picture of the main building of Torah Vodaas. In large bold letters was the headline caption: “FORCLOSURE: THAT IS A TRAGEDY!”

    Behind the scenes though, Governor Carey contacted the appropriate bank administation officers, and with tactful pressure, told them to LEAVE TORAH VODAAS ALONE! And to give them time to get back on their feet.

    Boruch HaShem, as we well know, up through the present time, Torah Vodaas has continued to be one of the major Makomos HaTorah in the world.

  3. (continuation of my previous comment)

    At the same time though, in the political realm, Mr. Carey was part of the Democratic Party and on the liberal side of the arena. Probably the point that was most contentious was his rabid opposition to capital punishment. Several times, the New York State Legislature passed a law for capital punishment, but Governor Carey vetoed it, and the Legislature never had the two-thirds majority required to override the governor’s veto. He further promised that if there ever would be a death penalty in New York, then he would simply pardon any convict who would be given that sentence.

    Rav Avigdor Miller, ZT’L, was sharply critical of all of this; that Governor Carey’s “kind heart” would not allow him to kill a convicted murderer, was the phenomenon of mistaken mercy, which Chazal inform us is a grave error. Countless times, Rav Miller heavily stressed that having a death penalty is absolutely crucial for the safety and stability of a society. When people have in the back of their minds the fear — I repeat, yes, THE FEAR — that they may end up being electrocuted in an electric chair, they will be scared to do bad things.

    “When there is a death penalty on the books, even a ROSH YESHIVA is a better person!!”

    So the opposite set up, of no capital punishment, and in general, a lenient attitude toward criminals, Rav Miller often explained, is a key cause of the deterioration and disintegration of modern society.

    “People are putting pins in candies and razor blades in cookies — and why not??? It’s FUN to kill!!! You probably won’t get caught! And if you do get caught, you probably won’t get convicted! And if you have a ‘bad judge,’ so what??? So he’ll sentence you to a ‘hotel,’ where you will have a private room, color TV, good tastey meals, free medical and dental care, and after a few years, you get out!”