'Mama' D'Amato was 'driving force' in family, Rep. Peter King says at wake

Congressman Peter King leaves the wake for Antoinette

Congressman Peter King leaves the wake for Antoinette D'Amato, the mother of former Senator Alfonse D'Amato, on Saturday, April 26, 2014 in Island Park. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Political luminaries paid their respects to Antoinette "Mama" D'Amato, a force behind her son Alfonse's political career, at a wake in Island Park Saturday night.

Former Sen. D'Amato and his brother Armand D'Amato Jr. greeted a long line of mourners and well-wishers as they passed dozens of bouquets of flowers toward an open coffin.

Antoinette D'Amato died Thursday in her Island Park home. She was 99.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said that she was "a driving force, obviously, in the family."

"If you dealt with Al D'Amato you also had to deal with Mama D'Amato," King said.

King said that she was "unstoppable" and the "only person Al was ever scared of was his mother."

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Nassau Republican Party chairman Joe Mondello said she always had a smile on her face and in a different era would have been a politician herself.

"She could be tough," Mondello said. "She didn't make any bones about her opinions. If she felt her sons should be moving in a certain direction, she didn't make it a secret . . . She was a strong woman."

Figures from across the political spectrum attended, including State Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) and Gary Melius, a force behind the Independence Party.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a Democrat, said Antoinette D'Amato was celebrated in life and in her passing because of the role she played in her sons' lives.

He said that, like many Italian women, she was "the center of the family, often behind the scenes."

Antoinette D'Amato was born Feb. 22, 1915, in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, the second of three children, and graduated from Girls High School in Bedford Stuyvesant.

In 1935, she married Armand D'Amato and the couple bought a small home on Ostend Avenue in Island Park where they raised three children: Alfonse, Armand Jr. and Joanne.

Armand D'Amato Sr. died in 2010 at the age of 97.

A viewing will be held Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. at Sacred Heart Parish Center, 301 Long Beach Rd., Island Park.

A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. Monday at Sacred Heart Church, Island Park.

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