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George E. Pataki | Memory Project

George E. Pataki

Governor George E. Pataki
Hungarian American


George E. Pataki was born in Peekskill, New York and raised on his parents’ family farm. His grandparents originally come from Szabolcs County in Hungary.

He is a graduate of Yale University (1967) and Columbia Law School (1970). Pataki served for 10 years in the New York State legislature. He was elected mayor of Peekskill in 1981, served in the NY legislature as an assemblyman and then a senator from 1985-1994. He ran for governor of New York in 1994 and was reelected twice by record margins in 1998 and 2002.

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Pataki led New York through a time of mourning and remembrance, and on to recovery and revitalization. The centerpiece of his commitment to rebuilding lower Manhattan is an enduring, inspirational 9/11 memorial and museum that pay tribute to those who perished on one of the darkest days in America’s history. Pataki also undertook efforts to attract new jobs and economic activity to lower Manhattan. In 2020, he published, "Beyond the Great Divide: How a Nation became a Neighborhood."

Pataki was presented the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary in 2008 and presented with the Hungarian American Coalition Award for his outstanding contributions to the Hungarian American community in 2014. He currently serves on The Hungary Initiatives Foundation Board.

Pataki and his wife Libby have been married for over 40 years and reside in Garrison, New York. They have four children, Emily, Teddy, Allison and George Owen. Gov Pataki and his daughter Allison are both involved in the launch of the ReConnect Hungary program, a cultural immersion program for young Hungarian Americans.

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