Joseph Suozzi, the former mayor of Glen Cove who served two terms as a state Supreme Court justice and was later appointed an appellate division justice, died Sunday night, his family said. He was 95.
Suozzi — a heralded figure in Glen Cove politics and the father of Thomas Suozzi, the former Nassau County executive currently running for New York’s 3rd Congressional District — died of natural causes, his family said.
“He saw America gave his family a great life and he wanted to return that back,” said his daughter, the Rev. Rosemary Suozzi Lloyd, a Unitarian minister who resides in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
Joseph Suozzi was born Aug. 22, 1921, in the southern Italian village of Ruvo del Monte and immigrated to New York in 1925 with his mother, Rosa Ciampa, where they joined his father, Michele, who had arrived in 1913.
The family first lived in Harlem before moving to Glen Cove. Suozzi attended St. Patrick’s Grade School in Glen Cove, St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay and Fordham University before joining the Army.
In his high school yearbook, asked what his goal was, Suozzi responded that he wanted to be a “real American.”
Suozzi was a World War II veteran who served as a B-24 navigator stationed in Italy, where he completed more than 30 missions. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak-leaf clusters, his family said.
He returned from the war and attended Harvard Law School under the GI Bill, which offered tuition assistance to returning soldiers. He then became an attorney. In 1949 he met his future wife, Marguerite Holmes, a registered nurse, at a Glen Cove Community Hospital dance at a Knights of Columbus hall. That same year, he was elected to the bench of the City Court of Glen Cove and re-elected in 1953.
Suozzi resigned in 1955 to run successfully for Glen Cove mayor, his post from 1956 until 1960.
As mayor, he spearheaded the effort to build the city’s library and also negotiated for the city to purchase more than 100 acres of beachfront property at a discounted price, which would ultimately become the city’s golf course and public beach known as Pryibil Beach.
Nassau Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) said Joseph Suozzi’s contributions to the city were innumerable, describing him as person who “always told you what he thought, he didn’t hold anything back.”
“He was one of the sharpest people; he never missed a thing,” she said.
“He was a visionary; he was an urban planner,” his daughter said.
In 1961, Suozzi was elected to a 14-year term as state Supreme Court justice and re-elected in 1974. He was appointed an appellate court judge in 1976 by then-Gov. Hugh Carey.
Suozzi stepped down from the court in 1980 and became a senior partner in the law firm of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein.
In addition to his son Thomas and daughter, Joseph Suozzi is survived by his wife of 63 years and sons William, a physician who lives in Glen Rock, New Jersey, and Christopher, who works in commercial real estate and lives in Manhattan. He is predeceased by his eldest son, Joseph.
Viewing services are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at the McLaughlin Kramer Megiel Funeral Home in Glen Cove. A funeral Mass will be offered Thursday at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Glen Cove.