By Betsy Scheinbart
Katherine Lee Tennyson was remembered Monday by St. Albans politicians and hundreds of southeast Queens residents whose lives she touched as a legislative aide to City Councilman Archie Spigner (D-St. Albans), as a dancer, as a friend, and as a family member.
Tennyson died Nov. 19 at Long Island Jewish Hospital after battling a relatively brief illness. She was 63.
Among those who spoke at the service at New Jerusalem Baptist Church in South Jamaica Monday was her husband of more than 40 years, Jack Tennyson. Her brother, Richard Lee, sang the Lord’s Prayer in tribute.
The service was attended by countless southeast Queens community leaders and several of the elected officials she worked with at the Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club, including U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) and state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans.)
At the time of her death, Tennyson was employed as a legislative aide to Spigner, dealing directly with constituents who came to his office looking for help.
“She certainly did a tremendous job for me,” said Spigner, who along with Dora Young, leads the Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club, which helped Meeks, Smith and many others get elected.
“If our candidates were successful,” Spigner said of the club’s nominees, “a good deal of that success can be owed to Kathy Tennyson.”
City Councilman-elect Leroy Comrie, who worked closely with Tennyson in Spigner’s district office and will succeed the councilman Jan. 1, said Tennyson had a special knack for making friends with people as soon as she met them.
“She had a unique way of making our constituents feel completely at ease, which made them more comfortable in sharing their concerns,” said Comrie, Spigner’s top aide. “This enabled their problems to be solved that much sooner.”
At the “homegoing service” several people mentioned the grace and agility Tennyson displayed on the dance floor, where she was known to get a Macarena or Electric Slide dance line started.
Tennyson was a member of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church’s Imoni Praise Dancers, a group of women of all ages. The dancers gave a short performance at the end of the service in her honor.
Queens Borough President-elect Helen Marshall said she knew Tennyson to be a happy and lively person who looked much younger than she really was, especially when she was dancing.
“I don’t think I ever saw her without a smile on her face,” Marshall said.
State Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) also spoke of Tennyson’s vivacity. “It’s really hard to comprehend that Kathy’s gone … because she was so alive.”
Scarborough said that after growing up as an only child, he came to consider Kathy and Jack Tennyson to be like the sister and brother he never had.
A native New Yorker, Tennyson graduated from Andrew Jackson HS, now Campus Magnet, in Cambria Heights. She first belonged to the Calvary Baptist Church in Jamaica before joining New Jerusalem.
She married Jack Tennyson in 1958 and the couple had one son, Lloyd, who predeceased her.
In addition to her husband and brother, Tennyson is survived by her mother, Josephine Lee; sister, Brenda Lee; and many extended family members and friends.
Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.