According to her son, Kenny Gavin, she suffered from a brain aneurysm last week. She underwent surgery and died in her sleep from complications on Wednesday morning.
Lily Gavin opened the Italian restaurant at 39-41 Queens Blvd. in 1972 and was also active in several community groups such as the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and Sunnyside Senior Center. She was the honorary director of the LaGuardia Community College Foundation.
“It’s very difficult to be here today,” said Ricky Bassilo, an employee of Dazies Restaurant for 10 years. “It’s really, really difficult to believe she’s not here.”
Gavin, a Forest Hills resident, was also a supporter of the local YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club and the Queens Council of Tourism. She was also responsible for raising money to repair the Sunnyside Arch sign years ago.
She was also a founding member of the Sunnyside Shines business improvement district, according to the group’s Executive Director Rachel Thieme.
“We’ll remember Lily as someone who brought the community together with grace, generosity and a positive vision for the neighborhood,” Thieme said. “She will be dearly missed.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer called Gavin a legend and “a force in just about every commercial, civic and political event in Sunnyside.”
“She was a strong woman, an entrepreneur, a bridge builder and at times a peacemaker,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “But above all she was a loving mother and grandmother to her family and a dear friend to so many.”
Congressman Joe Crowley called Gavin a dear friend, mentor and confidante.
“She was more than just the owner of beloved local restaurant,” Crowley said. “Lily believed in giving back to the neighborhood and working to make Queens an even better place to live.”
Debbie Markell-Kleinert, district manager of Community Board 2, said she had many interactions with Gavin and that she was a “very special lady.”
“Lily was an icon for the Sunnyside community and the Borough of Queens,” Markell-Kleinert said. “Her civic activism, her business and philanthropy is her legacy which will live on in all our hearts forever.”
According to a restaurant employee, visitation will take place at Edward Lynch Funeral Home at 43-07 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside on Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
The burial will take place at Queen of Martyrs at 110-6 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills on Monday at 10:30 p.m.
“Lily was one of our WOW women because she wowed the world of Queens with her love, her business acumen, her devotion to family, friends and business,” said Victoria Schneps-Yunis, co-publisher of Schneps Communications. “She will be terribly missed.”