Three-time Democratic Governor of New York Mario Cuomo has died just hours before his son Andrew was inaugurated for a second term as governor, family sources say.
Mr Cuomo, 82, refused a number of proposals to seek the US presidency during the course of a long career.
He died of heart failure at his home.
The New York Times described him as a “liberal beacon” who “commanded the attention of the country with a compelling public presence”.
It said that he will be remembered for his “exhaustive ruminations about whether to run for president”.
He was urged by the Democrats twice to run for the White House – in 1988 and 1992 – but on each occasion rejected their overtures.
Mr Cuomo, a renowned political orator, led New York during volatile times from 1983 to 1994 and many of his ambitious plans were stifled by recession and cash shortages.
Mr Cuomo did not attend his son’s inauguration speech on Thursday because he was not well – however the current governor used the occasion to honour his father.