WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Bill Mooney loved Al DelBello as a businessman and friend. Six months after the passing of the former Westchester County Executive, Mooney’s heart still grows heavy and his eyes turn moist when recalling him.
“I miss his friendship and his guidance,’’ said Mooney, the President and CEO of the Westchester County Association. “I just miss him, period.”
Mooney will make a Special Memorial Tribute to DelBello at the WCA’s Fall Leadership Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 19. The dinner will be at the Westchester Marriott Hotel in Tarrytown.
DelBello died on May 15 at the age of 80. He was the first Democrat to be elected Westchester County Commissioner, a role he served from 1974-82. He was also a former Mayor of Yonkers and a Lieutenant Governor to Mario Cuomo.
- What : Westchester County Association's Annual Fall Leadership Dinner
- When : Thursday, Nov 19, 5:30 p.m.
- Where : Westchester Marriott Hotel, Tarrytown
- More info : Westchester.org
Mooney’s first remembered DelBello as a friend. When Mooney planned to move from his home in Waccabuc to White Plains several years ago, he needed to find a home for two dogs who could not stay at the new residence.
“I was really upset about it,’’ Mooney said. “I bumped into Al and his wife, Dee, at a grocery story. He said give the dogs to us. I was flabbergasted. He had already had a couple of dogs. His home was dog heaven. It was such a nice gesture, and it showed Al as a human being. He was a caring person. It was real wow for me, because I was so upset.”
While Mooney remembered DelBello as a friend, most everyone else in Westchester County will identify with DelBello’s business expertise. Mooney said Westchester County, one of the most highly regarded regions in the nation for business and real estate, would not have the appeal it enjoys today without DelBello’s expertise.
“Al had vision that you wouldn’t believe,’’ said Mooney, a former banker at Chase Bank and the President of the Westchester County Association since 2004. “One of the reasons we’re so highly regarded in the healthcare sector and ahead of the curve is because of Al’s vision. He wanted to help hospitals against the unfair practices of the insurance companies. He had the vision to understand healthcare long before it become fashionable.”
Mooney said in private conversations, DelBello was a straight-shooter. “There was no beating around the bush,’’ Mooney said. “He wouldn’t embarrass me in public. Later on, he’d tell me I was way off base.”
Politically, however, DelBello was astute. He became the first Democrat to be elected Westchester County Executive, and in 1970, became the first Democratic Mayor in Yonkers in more than 30 years.
“When he got elected, he got things done,’’ Mooney said. “It was like Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan, with Ed Brady playing the role of O’Neill. “They would sit for hours and get things done for Westchester. Whether it was the Westchester County Medical Center, or consolidating the sheriff’s department, they got it done. That would be like World War III in today’s world. Al got it done because he was bipartisan, compromising, savvy and he cared about the taxpayer.”
Mooney remembers when he first met DelBello, who was then the County Executive. “I couldn’t get over how articulate he was,’’ Mooney said. “And he didn’t have any notes. It was like watching John F. Kennedy. It just flowed. I was so impressed.”
Mooney, working for Chase Manhattan at the time, arranged for DelBello to meet the bank president. DelBello left the meeting with a $25,000 contribution for economic development.
“Al made this county great,’’ Mooney said. “He made it one of the most attractive places in the United States to live. We’ve had a long run as a great county because of Al. With all the companies and economic development he brought in, he never lost sight of the social issues. That’s a wonderful combination. That’s what made him such a great leader for Westchester.”
For tickets to the Fall Leadership Dinner, click here .