By Ivan Pereira
Friends, family and colleagues of the late Judge Ralph Sherman said the Oakland Gardens activist was a man of many things.
In addition to his years as a Queens Supreme Court Justice, Sherman, who died two years ago at 90, helped the community with his work as a Democratic district leader, civic member and participant in other groups. On Sunday his hard work was immortalized when the city renamed 77th Avenue between Cloverdale and Springfield boulevards in his honor.
“It’s a nice testimony to someone who was committed to his community. He left a terrific legacy for everyone,” said Richard Sherman, the judge’s son.
City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) and his brother, state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck), led the rain-soaked ceremony at the corner, near the Shermans’ longtime residence. Weprin said he sponsored the Council bill to rename the street because Sherman had been a stalwart of the Queens community.
“We all remember Judge Sherman so fondly that the weather doesn’t matter,” he said.
Sherman had been a member of several community groups, including the Knights of Pythias, the Queens Jewish War Veterans and the Mid Queens Boys Club. He was also a political leader, serving as a member of the Queens Democrats and as a Democratic district leader for the area.
Honey Miller, the current district leader, said she was honored when Sherman asked her to run for the office when he left.
“He and his wife taught me so much about the law,” she recalled.
In the late 1970s, Sherman was appointed to the Queens Civil Court and soon was elected to the State Supreme Court. For more than 15 years he served on the bench and oversaw many cases, including the famous 1990 murder case of Julio Rivera, who was attacked in Jackson Heights for being a homosexual.
Ginnifer Sherman said she became an attorney because of her grandfather, who taught her the ins and outs of New York law.
“He was honest, very stern. You had to be prepared when you came into his courtroom, but he was very, very fair,” she said.
After retiring in 1993, Sherman kept himself busy by working as a judicial officer in the Queens courts. He continued to serve in that capacity up until his death April 1, 2007.
“No pun intended — he was the most honorable man I know,” Ginnfer Sherman said.
As family members recounted their favorite memories of the judge, they said the street renaming was a testament to his service.
“This was a decent, honest, wonderful man. You could count on this guy for anything you needed in life,” Richard Sherman said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.