By Rebecca Henely
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said when people walk by the northwest corner of 83rd Street and 37th Avenue, he wants them to ask who Richard Cecere was.
“He was a very dear friend of mine and a very important person to the community,” Dromm said.
Cecere’s wife Lorraine, Dromm, other elected officials and about 40 well-wishers participated in the unveiling of the new Richard Cecere Corner Sunday afternoon.
Those who spoke beforehand described Richard Cecere, a former chairman of Community Board 3 and active member of many groups, as a man passionate about the CB 3 district and a proponent of inclusivity in some of the most diverse neighborhoods of Queens. They said he was the first in the area to bring the leaders of multiple ethnic groups together.
“Richard loved this community, make no mistake about it,” said CB 3 Chairwoman Grace Lawrence.
Dromm said he had pushed for the corner, which is near the Ceceres’ home, to be named after Richard Cecere. The renaming was approved earlier this year, although Dromm said he held the event in September so well-wishers would have returned from their vacation.
Richard Cecere was born and raised in Jackson Heights and his wife Lorraine Cecere said they decided to remain in the community after they married until he died in June 2007 from leukemia at the age of 64. Lorraine Cecere said her husband was active in all the clubs he joined, including the Kiwanis Club of Jackson Heights, the John F. Kennedy Democratic Club, the New Visions Democratic Club, the Newtown Senior Center in Elmhurst and the United Community Civic Association.
“He didn’t just join the organizations, he became a part of them,” Lorraine Cecere said.
In addition to his civic engagement, people at the unveiling also spoke about Richard Cecere’s love of doo-wop, a rhythm and blues music style he enjoyed so much he once hosted a radio show dedicated to it. They said he was a kind and generous man who was always smiling.
“He’s gone but never forgotten,” said Judge Rudolph E. Greco Jr. “We love him.”
City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) said Richard Cecere was one of the first people she spoke to when she was planning to run for office, and he encouraged her to do so.
“He always inspired this hope and passion that things would be better,” she said.
The unveiling of the sign suffered a bit of a mishap. When the string failed to pull the covering off the sign, Dromm used a ladder to climb up to finally unveil Richard Cecere Corner. He then gave a ceremonial sign to Lorraine Cecere.
“He would be so proud to see that sign,” Lorraine Cecere said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.