Jessie C. Saladino, who always ensured her family put their best foot forward, died of natural causes Friday at St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage. She was 82.
Married for 44 years to state Supreme Court Justice Joseph J. Saladino, who died in 2000, Jessie Saladino had a natural grace and love for entertaining that helped make her a remarkable partner, especially for a politician, said her youngest son, James A. Saladino, and daughter Virginia A. Ewen. They added that their parents socialized with former Gov. Mario and Matilda Cuomo for more than five decades.
"He was really able to accomplish things because of her," said her son, who lives in Wading River.
Her lawyer husband was counsel to the state Assembly Health Committee, served on the Oyster Bay Town Board and became a Nassau District Court judge. In 1985, he was elected to the state court.
"My mother kept us grounded," James Saladino said. "She always reminded us that at the end of the day, we represented our family."
Another son, Assemb. Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa), also stressed their mother's central role and her generosity of spirit. "Mom was the wind beneath the wings of our family," he said.
"An entirely unselfish, caring and loving woman to her family and all who knew her," he said.
On their first date, the future judge took her to the Metropolitan Opera Company, where he was an usher, said Virginia Saladino, who lives in Massapequa.
The couple, who moved to Massapequa in 1964, enjoyed many more operas together.
Jessie C. Saladino, born in Brooklyn in 1933, attended Samuel J. Tilden High School and Brooklyn College, where she studied Shakespearean literature and English speech. A stint as a teacher followed, and she was a dedicated volunteer for charities, including Cancer Care, St. Rose of Lima Church Outreach and the Green Harbor Women's Club.
"I would say my mother's favorite activities were entertaining and visiting with people she loved," her daughter said. During the last few years at Dominican Village senior housing in Amityville, "She'd invite the staff, or some of the residents, or have the family come," she said.
In addition to her three children, she is survived by eight grandchildren.
Visiting hours are Sunday and Monday at the north chapel of the Massapequa Funeral Home in Massapequa Park. A noon funeral Mass will be offered on Tuesday at St. Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa, followed by internment at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.