City co-names Astoria street for first female county clerk

City co-names Astoria street for first female county clerk
By Phil Corso

There was no shortage of friends and relatives anxious to share their stories of the late Gloria D’Amico as they gathered on Shore Boulevard in Astoria to co-name a street in her memory.

D’Amico, a longtime Astoria native and activist, was the first woman to serve as Queens county clerk. She died Dec. 21, 2010 at the age of 883, but was immortalized in a ceremony co-naming Shore Boulevard and 21st Drive “The Honorable Gloria D’Amico Place.”

To call it a celebration would have been an understatement, as a busy group of city and borough all-stars gathered to remember D’Amico. City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) emceed the event as speaker after speaker shared tales about the late activist.

“This is a wonderful and special honor for a wonderful and special woman, who deserved not only this type of praise but more,” the D’Amico family said in a joint statement.

Vallone told the large crowd about the woman known for implementing a jury duty call-in system, making it more convenient for potential jurors to find out if they are expected to serve on any given day.

“I was lucky enough to have two mentors — my father, who taught me public service and how to serve people with honesty and integrity, and Gloria, who showed me how to get in a position to help people,” Vallone said. “Nobody could get results the way Gloria did. She was a true trailblazer for women throughout Queens, and I am honored to have been her friend.”

That word — trailblazer — was used several more times throughout the afternoon by the members of an impressive roster of elected officials, which included U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria), state Sens. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), state Assembly members David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), among others.

“She was more than a trailblazer,” Maloney said. “She was a trail-breaker.”

D’Amico also served as a board member of the Salah M. Hassanein Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, the same group that sponsors the Gloria D’Amico Fun Run/Walk held in Astoria Park each year in her honor. The late D’Amico was an active member of the Immaculate Conception Church in Astoria and was also president of the Rosary and Altar Society, overseeing several fund-raising events and helping the church and its youth.

“She had a mythical status in this community. She was almost like a character of a movie,” Gianaris said as the crowd burst into a sea of smiles and laughter.

One after another, heavy-hitters in Queens politics and community activism stepped up to the podium to recount their personal stories about D’Amico and her service to the city. By the ceremony’s end, the group gathered to watch her street sign unveiled before breaking into applause.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.