Maspeth street will honor bar owner George Gibbons

By Bianca Fortis

After nearly a year of struggle, a lifelong Maspeth resident who was killed in 2011 will be honored with his name added to the street on which he grew up.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed legislation last week that co-names 60th Drive as George Gibbons Jr. Way after the popular bar owner who died in a hit-and-run accident.

The legislation was sponsored by City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).

“George T. Gibbons’ life will be honored by the city he loved and loved him back,” she said in a statement. “The tragic end to a young and generous life brought the Maspeth community together and helped usher in a legislative movement to strengthen the penalties for leaving the scene of a crime.”

On Oct. 15, 2011, just before 7 a.m., Gibbons was traveling in a livery cab on a Long Island Expressway service road. The cab was struck by a vehicle traveling the wrong way down the road. Gibbons was brought to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. He was 37.

The suspect driving the other vehicle fled the scene, and police initially were unable to locate him, but a month later Peter Rodriguez, of Brooklyn, was arrested in Connecticut in connection with the incident and charged with manslaughter, assault, criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene without reporting. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to up to seven years in prison in May 2012.

Brendan Gibbons, George’s brother, said Tuesday the family had been working to have the street co-named for almost a year. He thanked Crowley as well as the community.

“We’re very happy and honored to have his name on the block that we all grew up on and that my father still lives on,” he said. “My sister and her children will be able to look at it as they live on the block as well.”

Gibbons had owned the 69th Street bar, Gibbons’ Home, which closed after his funeral. A few months later it reopened under the management of his siblings.

He had also coached the New York Mets wheelchair softball team, organized teams to raise funds for breast cancer awareness and was involved with the Wounded Warriors Project, which provides support to injured service members.

“Our family is both honored and excited to have our home street named George Gibbons Jr. Way,” Gibbons’ sister, Siobahn Gibbons, said in a statement. “We can only hope that his name on 60th Drive will be a constant reminder to everyone of a true community leader. George was always proud to call 60th Drive home. It brings joy to our hearts to know the impact his life has had will be acknowledged forever with his name.”

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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