Former Nassau County Executive Thomas S. Gulotta was remembered Friday as a dedicated public servant who put people over policy and his family and faith above all else in life.
Hundreds of family members, friends and current and former lawmakers gathered for a funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in North Merrick to bid farewell to Gulotta, who served as the county’s leader for 14 years, ending in 2001.
He was remembered as a seasoned politician who could attend four to five events per night but most enjoyed family gatherings, particularly Christmas, and reveled in buying presents for close family members starting as early as June.
In his eulogy, Frank Gulotta Jr. described his brother as "a caring, loving, considerate and knowledgeable individual who went out of his way to help."
"He loved Nassau County — most especially, the people of Nassau County," said Gulotta Jr., a former state Supreme Court justice.
Frank Gulotta said his brother, as a husband, father and grandfather, “loved his family, pets and the outdoors — in that order.”
The Rev. Joseph D'Angelo, who celebrated the Mass, recalled that he met Gulotta when the Republican was Town of Hempstead supervisor, and through the years they became friends. D'Angelo became a chaplain for the Nassau County Police Department while Gulotta was county executive.
"He had the humility to seek spiritual counsel," said D'Angelo. "In prayer, here in his home parish of the church of Sacred Heart, we offer our love and support to his family."
In addition to Gulotta’s family and friends, political figures present included Democratic Nassau County Executive Laura Curran; former GOP County Executive Edward Mangano; Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford); Democratic state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli; Legis. Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park), presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature; Legis. Rose Walker (R-Hicksville); Democratic Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen; Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, a Republican; and former GOP Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray.
"This is Nassau County saying goodbye to a towering figure in our county's history," DiNapoli said after the Mass. "He was a hands-on county exec. He was always at events, always interacting with people. He really did provide personal service."
Curran said she was lucky to have become good friends with Gulotta and his wife, Elizabeth.
"In his career in government that spanned over four decades, Tom served our residents with distinction," Curran said.
"The funeral was a fitting tribute to a leader who carried himself through life with great dignity," Nicolello said.
Saladino called Gulotta "a true leader and an amazing human being."
"He created the template for everyone in government to follow," Saladino said. "His example, his leadership, his work with the community and his desire to set government straight and in the right direction is something that benefits all of us."
Gulotta died Sunday at the age of 75.
In addition to his brother and wife, he is survived by a daughter, Elizabeth M. Amenbolare; a son, Christopher A. Gulotta; his sister, Franca Rizzo; and three grandchildren. Gulotta was predeceased by his son Thomas.
Gulotta was buried at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury.