Francis X. Cuomo, a retired insurance agent who was an advocate for multiple sclerosis research, died of MS complications Wednesday at his Towson home. He was 76 and lived in the Hampton neighborhood.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Highlandtown on East Pratt Street, he was the son of Anthony L. Cuomo, a Bethlehem Steel metallurgist, and his wife, Clementina Rescigno, who did fancy embroidery demonstrations for the Singer Sewing Machine Co.
He attended Our Lady of Pompei School and graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1963. He played football, soccer and baseball, and was a student council member.
As a young adult, Mr. Cuomo worked with his father and brothers at the Cuomo Income Tax Center in the family home.
“His father spoke Italian and there were immigrants in the neighborhood so they bonded,” said his son, Francis X. Cuomo II of Silver Spring. “We always had a strong Italian culture. We were family first.”
Mr. Cuomo earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Baltimore in 1967.
He met his future wife, Carmella Rose Majestro, at a dinner party. She attended with her twin sister. She married Mr. Cuomo, while her sister, Margaret, married his brother, Felix Cuomo.
As a young man, Mr. Cuomo was an accountant at Westinghouse at what is now BWI Marshall Airport. He was an auditor for the Army at Edgewood Arsenal and Maryland Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Mr. Cuomo became a licensed agent and broker at State Farm Insurance and ran a successful practice in Govans for more than 20 years. He purchased the former Kirsch’s restaurant property on York Road and converted the building into his office.
“As an agent he was open-minded and nonjudgmental. He was a problem solver and a mentor to persons who were having financial problems,” said his wife, Carmella Rose. “People mistakenly thought he was an attorney. He liked helping people with issues dealing with the Social Security Administration. He liked running a neighborhood business where his clients came from all walks of life.”
Mr. Cuomo left the insurance business in 2001.
“I had met him as a State Farm employee and I had the opportunity to acquire the business,” said Anthony Walker, a State Farm agent. “He became my friend and my mentor. I was from New Jersey and he was from Highlandtown. We were of two different races. We clicked professionally.”
Mr. Walker also said, “Frank was a funny guy. He was witty and his humor was always gracious.”
Mr. Cuomo and his wife also founded Towsontowne Realty Inc. and built a portfolio of commercial properties along the York Road corridor from Govans to Sparks. After renting the properties for a number of years, they sold them.
Mr. Cuomo was involved in an auto accident in 1982 and later showed symptoms of multiple sclerosis. He was diagnosed in 1985 but remained ambulatory with the help of crutches. He had his auto fitted with hand controls.
As the disease progressed, he used a wheelchair.
“He worked with Johns Hopkins and he never gave up on the idea of finding a cure,” said his son, Francis X. Cuomo II. “He attended research meetings and participated in drug trials.”
His nephew, Michael Cuomo, said Mr. Cuomo found serenity swimming for an hour after work.
“He had upper body strength that allowed him to swim safely,” said his nephew. “When he wasn’t at work or with family or friends he was often in the pool — it was the place where he could move freely like a dolphin at sunset. He told me, ‘When I’m in a pool, I almost forget about my disease altogether.’”
He was a donor to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Helping Up Mission and Roman Catholic organizations, including the Companions of Saint Anthony in Ellicott City, the Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the Carmelite Nuns and the Sisters of Saint Francis in Milwaukee.
Mr. Cuomo also enjoyed spending Sundays at his mother’s home with his extended family. He followed the Ravens and regularly attended games. He also played checkers.
Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Carmella Rose Majestro, a former public schools home economics teacher who assisted her husband in his business; a son, Francis X. Cuomo II of Silver Spring; two daughters, Anne Marie Schoenwetter and Christina M. Cuomo, both of Cockeysville; two brothers, Felix P. “Phil” Cuomo of Lutherville and Richard L. Cuomo of Perry Hall; and four grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church on Ware Avenue in Towson, where he was a member.