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By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA, / nytimes.com / Published: August 7, 2011.
Gov. Hugh Carey of New York, center, in 1975, during meetings on the New York City financial crisis. With him were Judah Gribetz, left, counsel to the New York City mayor, and Victor Marrero, assistant counsel to the governor.
Hugh L. Carey, the governor who helped rescue New York from the brink of financial collapse in the 1970s and tamed a culture of ever-growing spending, died Sunday at his summer home on Shelter Island. He was 92.
His death was announced by the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“Governor Carey led our state during a time of great financial turmoil and pulled us back from the brink of bankruptcy and economic ruin,” Mr. Cuomo said in the statement.
As the 51st governor of New York from 1975 through 1982, Mr. Carey led a small group of public servants who vanquished the fiscal crisis that threatened New York City and the state — the direst emergency a governor had faced since the Depression — by taking on powers over the city’s finances that no governor had wielded before and none has wielded since. A liberal Democrat, Mr. Carey reversed the upward spiral of borrowing, spending and entitlement under one of his predecessors, Nelson A. Rockefeller, a Republican who had presided in an era of limitless government promise.
But even after eight years as governor, Mr. Carey remained an enigma. The witty storyteller who could charm an audience alternated with the irascible loner who alienated many of his allies. The brooding, private man, father of more than a dozen children, who mourned the deaths of his wife and, earlier, two sons killed in a car crash, gave way to a man who engaged in an exuberant, very public romance that led to a second marriage. Hugh Carey rose to power as a Democrat outside his party’s machine. He began the 1974 campaign for governor as a recently widowed congressman from Brooklyn, a long shot who was not taken seriously, yet he cruised to one of the most resounding victories in the state’s history.
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