Marie Cavalcante Levy, the ebullient mother of former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who was no politician but could light up a room for her son, has died. She was 86.
"Mama Levy," as she was known, died surrounded by her family Sunday night at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center after suffering a stroke Thursday.
Over the years, she helped her son ascend the political ranks, whether it was by labeling envelopes for his county legislative campaigns or making his staff cheesecake and lasagna after he became county executive.
"With a lot of politicians, if their mother was in the room, you'd never know it," said Michael Dawidziak, who was a political consultant for Levy. "But she was a presence. She had a wonderful personality and had the ability to connect to people. She was a great asset for him."
Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said, "She had a great way about her and she got a lot of votes for her son handing out samples at Costco." She worked there until four years ago.
"It didn't matter if the president or the governor was in the hall, my mom's bubbly personality was the biggest magnet in the room," said Levy, now a lawyer and public policy consultant who lives in Bayport. "She brought joy to everyone she touched. No matter what side of the political aisle they were on, the common denominator is that they loved my mom."
At her son's 2004 inauguration, Levy recalled his mother in conversation about the old days in Brooklyn with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) when he was called to speak. Marie Levy and Schumer continued talking in front of the crowd for several minutes. She then bowed and got a big hand.
The youngest of 13 children, Marie Levy was raised in Brooklyn by parents who had emigrated from Italy.
She met her future husband, Andrew, when both worked at the former Abraham & Straus department store in Brooklyn. After marrying, the couple lived in Glendale, Queens, where they had three children. They moved to Holbrook in 1969.
When the children got older, Marie went back to work as office manager for an appliance store her husband opened in Patchogue. He died in 1986. She also worked at Macy's and later for a decade at the Costco store near her Holbrook home.
In addition to Steve Levy, she is survived by her daughter, the newly ordained Rev. Joan Levy, and another son, Kenneth, a Manhattan physician. Other survivors include her sister, Charlotte, and brother, Charles Cavalcante, both of Holbrook.
A wake will be held Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Robertaccio Funeral Home in Patchogue. A funeral service will be held at Christ Episcopal Church in Port Jefferson at 11 a.m. Friday. Burial will follow at Calverton National Cemetery.