Queens activist Dolan remembered by pols and civics

Top 10 news stories of 2011 in Queens
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Howard Koplowitz

Former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman called late civic leader Pat Dolan “the quintessential Queens civic worker” during a memorial service for Dolan last week in Forest Hills.

Dolan, the 72-year-old who headed the Queens Civic Congress and Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy, was struck and killed by a car two weeks ago in an accident as she crossed Hillside Avenue on her way to a Community Board 8 Transportation Committee meeting.

Shulman was one of many who knew Dolan and were shocked to hear of her death.

“She was in effect the quintessential Queens civic worker,” Shulman said during the memorial service Nov. 29 at Schwarts Brothers Forest Park Chapel, at 114-03 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills. “She was very much part of my career in government.”

Shulman said Dolan’s knowledge of zoning laws and passion for transportation issues “was legion and you couldn’t get away with anything.

“Queens was really her life,” Shulman said. “Pat Dolan is not dead. She’s upstairs directing traffic, making sure no one diminishes the value of the real estate.”

To those who knew Dolan, her love for her large cat Timmy was as much a part of her life as her civic engagement.

“A major priority in her personal life was big, four-pawed and ‘meow,’ and that’s Timmy,” said Dolan’s longtime friend Norma Stegmaier. “Timmy was an important part of Pat’s life. The good news is Timmy has a new home.”

Stegmaier said in a phone interview Monday that Timmy’s new owner did not want to be interviewed.

Shulman’s successor, Borough President Helen Marshall, said Dolan advocated for a new library in her neighborhood of Kew Gardens Hills and said there are plans to memorialize the longtime civic leader with something appropriate at the library.

“She has really shown that she cares about the community,” Marshall said. “If we had maybe 50 Pat Dolans, we could take care of all the problems in the world. We have lost a great soldier in the battle to keep our communities safe and beautiful.”

Richard Hellenbrecht of the Queens Civic Congress said Dolan was unwavering, tireless, bright and a dedicated advocate.

“You think of every positive attribute … and that pretty well describes Pat,” he said. “We will try our hardest to fill in her shoes. We will miss her. It’s a huge loss, a huge loss for the community, for the borough, for the city.”

City Comptroller John Liu, who served on the Queens Civic Congress with Dolan, said she was a mentor to him.

“She always reminded me how she recruited me,” Liu said, referring to his time as chairman of the congress’s Transportation Committee.

Liu said Dolan always had ideas on transportation and was “forceful” in making her points when Liu served as Transportation Committee chairman of the City Council and credited her with working on a $4 million program to give vans and operating funds to senior centers across the city.

“She cared about seniors, she cared about kids,” Liu said. “She just had so many hats. It’s hard to believe that such an incredible force has been taken away from us. She was a fierce advocate for Queens.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.