Andrew P. O’Rourke died on Thursday night. He was a good friend of my father during the 1960s and ’70s. In fact, my father wrote the slogan for O’Rourke’s first campaign for Yonkers City Council: “He Flew the Frontiers of Freedom.” They both went to Fordham University and they both served in the Air Force in the 1950s. After my father died in 1983, my mother remained close friends with Mrs. Alice O’Rourke through her divorce from Mr. O’Rourke and until Mrs. O’Rourke’s death in 2011.
I don’t know what my father would have thought about Mr. O’Rourke’s later life and political career. The New York Times delineates the accusations of favoritism that dogged O’Rourke. The newspaper points out after each accusation that no conflict of interest was found. The obituary in the Journal News focused more on O’Rourke’s accomplishments as Westchester County Executive. O’Rourke was also chosen to challenge popular incumbent Mario Cuomo in what he described as a “suicide mission” campaign for governor. There’s a funny picture of O’Rourke carrying around a cardboard cutout of Cuomo, because the governor had refused to debate.
As a kid, I delivered the newspaper to the O’Rourkes’ home. One day while collecting the weekly subscription fee, I remember Mr. O’Rourke joking that the newspaper wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.
I thought of the O’Rourkes just this past week. For several years, we would go to their house on New Year’s Day for a gathering. I had to bring my schoolbooks to complete a homework assignment that I was supposed to do over Christmas vacation. The O’Rourkes had three children. As I recall, Alice became a lawyer like her dad, Aileen became a nurse like her mom and Andrew Jr. became a radio announcer. He did airborne traffic reports for some of the top stations in New York City.