Diane Vepple says she didn’t get into her relationship with then-state trooper Toby Schwartz — which involved talking about the promotion from sergeant to lieutenant at the same time her son had a baby — because she was uncertain about becoming a first lady.
“Our daughter says, ‘You are special in your own right,’ ” Vepple recalled. “I said ‘Well, you will be, and it was really not my desire to take my son to work.”
Vepple’s husband, Richard, later decided to be supportive of their relationship. But she feels differently now.
“It’s still extremely strong in our hearts, really,” she said. “I don’t think I would have even thought about being a first lady at the time.”
Vepple is the grandparent of Andrew Cuomo’s daughter, Grace. Vepple doesn’t know how many other first ladies during the day-to-day of the governor’s administration she has in common with Grace, but says it’s “substantial.”
Vepple talked about her relationship with first lady Grace Cuomo in an interview that aired Friday morning on WNYC’s “WNYC Radio.”
She said she “never had” any thoughts about starting a family during her four years as first lady.
“I never had any thoughts about anything, because I lived in Jersey Shore,” she said. “I went from the coast to the East, just to check out the beauty that Jersey can offer.”
According to news reports, Grace Cuomo and Sgt. Toby Schwartz had a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship that ended with the officer committing suicide in 2017. She later told the New York Times, “I came out the other side of my relationship with my husband, but I still had a deep love for his wife.”
Vepple told WNYC that now that she’s in a relationship with a fellow first lady she’s grateful for the opportunity to see her daughter every day.
“It’s very, very nice to see someone who could say, ‘Oh, from Jersey Shore. That’s one of the little things you have on your side of the city,'” she said.
Vepple is a Manhattan resident who said her most stressful moment as first lady was moving her $20 million apartment in Manhattan.
“It’s the toughest,” she said. “There was no wi-fi, no cable, no nothing. It was just me walking the other side of the building, and the police made me strip down to my underwear and take off my pants. It was really rough and horrible.”
Vepple grew up in Catskill and graduated from the City University of New York. She came to New York City for her graduate work at Columbia University, and she married Richard at the Pasquale’s Manor in Chelsea in 2008.
Vepple told WNYC that she learned to make pasta, but not also learn to cook with a knife in hand, while her husband was still working in the NYPD. She said she attended delis at 7-Eleven and worked as a laundry girl.
Vepple said she had a sense that she would be married to someone by the time she was in her 20s.
“I came from very, very humble beginnings, I have great family, I grew up in the Midwest, went to excellent public schools, went to great prep schools in New York, but the beginning of my marriage was not of that. I always kind of, I think, expected a more polished person to come around.”
Vepple didn’t want to be first lady. She says she always told her husband and daughter that she had nothing to do with her job.
Vepple spoke about her love of her husband, whom she said she met when they were in college. They were married in 2007.
Vepple has worked at Manhattan’s Meyer Law Firm, where she was a partner before taking over as a deputy assistant to acting attorney general. She said her strategy was to make sure her husband knew “he was good at what he did” when working with her.
Vepple also worked at public housing nonprofit Community Development Block Grant and as a secretary.