Marguerite Holmes Suozzi, who was related in one way or another to several of Glen Cove’s most powerful elected leaders but refused to get involved in politics, died at age 93 on Sept. 2, of natural causes. Although she was unfailingly committed to Glen Cove, her family members always came first. They were at her bedside when she died.
Suozzi was the wife of the late Joseph Suozzi, who was the youngest city judge ever elected in the U.S., a state Supreme Court justice, an Appellate Division justice and one of Glen Cove’s most powerful mayors.
She was the mother of U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi, who also served as the city’s mayor, as did two other Suozzis — Marguerite’s brother-in-law Jimmy, and his son, Ralph.
Marge, as she was known, campaigned hard for every office-seeking Suozzi, going door to door to collect signatures or manning a phone to get out the vote.
“But Mom wasn’t political, like me or Dad,” Tom recalled. “She’d talk to people one on one. I remember when we’d leave church, we were in the car, wanting to go home. We’d have to wait for Mom, who was busy talking to everyone.”
Many will remember her for her stewardship of the popular Morgan Park Summer Festival — free weekly concerts in Glen Cove. Once it was established, it was Marge who hired the entertainment and chaired the festival, which she did for 56 years.
Doris Meadows, a volunteer on the festival’s executive committee, remembered Marge’s warmth and welcoming spirit. “When I volunteered, it was Marge who immediately called me to welcome me,” she said. “I immediately liked her, and we became friends, going to lunch sometimes. She was always receptive to new ideas.”
Festival organizers created a contest years ago to identify and support young, talented musicians. In 2016, when Marge stepped down, the Young Performers Talent Competition was named for her.
Laura Pratt came up with the idea for the festival. The wife of Harold Pratt, a successful oilman, she lived in the Glen Cove mansion where the Holocaust Memorial Museum is now. She and Marge were friends.
“The Pratts had over a thousand acres,” Tom said. “My mother was invited to dinner at their home, and she told me she didn’t know which silverware to use. People always think of Mom as elegant, but she grew into that role.”
Marge, who had five children, 14 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, was originally from St. Albans, Queens. She was a nurse who worked in the operating room at Glen Cove Hospital.
When her family moved to Sea Cliff, she met Joseph Suozzi, an Italian who had immigrated to the U.S. in 1925, and lived in Glen Cove. He would become the love of her life, but he had to work hard to win her affections.
They met at the Glen Cove Community Hospital dinner dance in 1949, but they had both brought dates. “She was in a dance contest, and won either second or third place,” Tom recalled. “Dad went up to her and said, ‘If you had danced with me, you would have won first place.’ She said, ‘No, I wouldn’t have, because you’re too short.’ He said, ‘Take off your shoes,’ and she did.”
Marge wasn’t interested in getting to know Joseph any better, but he was not one to give up. When he heard that her family was having an open house on New Year’s Day, he dropped by. Marge ignored him. Undeterred, he sat on the porch steps for hours waiting for her.
“That was the beginning of their relationship,” Tom said. Married four years later, they went on to celebrate 64 wedding anniversaries before Joseph died in October 2016.
Marge was adventurous. As a young woman, she went sponge diving and deep-sea diving. Tom said he found photos of her wearing a diving suit that included a metal helmet, popular in the 1930s.
Marge always insisted on staying in national parks when the family took a cross-country driving vacation. “Dad would want to stay where there was electricity and plumbing, but not Mom,” Tom recalled. “She was even chased by a bear once.”
She was athletic, too. An excellent golfer, she won the women’s Nassau County Country Club championship when she was 75, the oldest to ever do so, and she did it again the following year. “The first time, they put ‘Mrs. Marguerite Suozzi’ on the plaque,” Tom said. “The second time, she had them put ‘Mrs. Joseph Suozzi’ on it. She wanted to celebrate my father, too. She was always loyal to Dad.”
There were no formal rules for the Suozzi children at home. But Marge made certain they went to church, did their homework and behaved. And she knew how to pick her battles when it came to discipline.
After a torrential rainstorm, young Tom decided to go with his friends to an area behind Glen Cove High School, where houses were being built, to play. “We sank to our waist in mud,” he said. “When my friends went home all muddy, they got into a lot of trouble, and one was grounded. My mother said she used to do what I’d done. Then, shrugging her shoulders, she said, ‘You’re supposed to do that as a kid.’”
Marge was also a lifelong learner, deciding to go back to college when her children were teenagers to take computer classes. She wanted to become a travel agent to satisfy her adventurous spirit. She did so, and traveled the world in the 1980s and ’90s.
She and Joseph donated so generously to the North Shore Historical Museum that in 2013, the museum was named after them. Its director, Amy Driscoll, remembers Marge as someone who always cared about the city. “She was very committed with all of her volunteer and charitable efforts,” Driscoll said. “And they were all targeted at benefiting everyone in the community.”
A devout Catholic, Marge was also known for her compassion, doing acts of kindness on the sly. Tom remembers her picking up people she saw when driving him home from school who were carrying bags of groceries. Her life was guided by her faith. She went to church every day, and served as a Eucharistic minister at St. Patrick’s Church and on the road, visiting people who were homebound.
Recently, her son said, “My mother was ready to die, and very much at peace. She felt she had done everything she was supposed to do.”
Suozzi was predeceased by a son, Joseph. In addition to Tom, her surviving children include the Rev. Rosemary Suozzi Lloyd, of Lincoln, Mass., Willliam Suozzi, of Glen Rock, and Christopher Suozzi, of Manhattan.