Barbara Bruno, wife of Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, R-Brunswick, died Monday at their home in rural Rensselaer County at the age of 77.
The Brunos had four children — Joseph, Susan, Kenneth and Katie — and seven grandchildren, and were married for 57 years. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The senator and other family members were with her when she died, said John McArdle, Bruno’s director of communications. Services will be private for the family, and a memorial service will be announced at a later date.
Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, said “Bobbie” Bruno was “a very dear friend” to the Farley family, “a remarkable woman, a great mother.” She was a shy person, Farley said, but “a real political asset” to her husband. He said Bruno told him recently that he had shown his ailing wife a Christmas card from Farley, with a photo of a family wedding, and was pleased that she could recognize the senator.
“Our heart goes out to him,” said Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady. “Our prayers go out to him and his family.”
Bruno realized how much he had benefited from his wife’s support, Tedisco said, adding: “He loved her more than anything. He said it was very difficult to see her like that,” as her disease progressed toward the end of her life.
Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, who has been Assembly speaker throughout the 13 years that Bruno has led the Senate, issued a statement saying: “In all our conversations, Senator Bruno’s devotion to his family has always been foremost in his heart. It is clear that his wife, children and grandchildren have always been a source of great strength and pride. I hope that this strength will be a solace to him.”
John “Jasper” Nolan, Saratoga County Republican chairman, said he last saw Mrs. Bruno last summer at a party at her home. Nolan said he believed Mrs. Bruno was receiving hospice care for the last months of her life. McArdle confirmed that she was receiving hospice care at her home. He said more information about Mrs. Bruno’s life would be released today.
The Brunos, Nolan said, are “a very closely knit family,” and Mrs. Bruno was “a very gracious woman who complemented Joe’s life.”
Gov. Eliot Spitzer said in a statement: “I join with … all New Yorkers in offering Senator Bruno and his family our deepest condolences. Barbara was a loving wife, a devoted mother and beloved grandmother. I ask all New Yorkers to keep the Bruno family in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
A statement from New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said: “My heartfelt condolences go out to Senator Bruno, as he grieves the loss of his beloved wife Barbara, and to the entire Bruno family. I have enormous admiration for the constant dedication that Joe showed to Barbara, which speaks volumes about his character, and I know that the days and years ahead will not be easy. Joe has been a good friend to me and the people of this city, and he and his children and grandchildren are in my thoughts and prayers tonight.”
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