By Eric Jankiewicz
Jack Friedman was buried on Sunday afternoon, the day of his birthday when he would have turned 56, at Parkside Memorial Chapels in Rego Park.
Friedman led a civic life that many called unmatched in enthusiasm and energy. He was most recently the executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the huge turnout of people for his funeral reflected his legacy as a champion of Queens.
The Bellrose resident is survived by his wife, Lori, and children, Cara and Daniel, in their mid-20s
“I will always be a daddy’s girl. Happy birthday, Dad,” Cara said at the funeral.
Friedman, who had led the chamber since 2007, died April 9. Many Queens lawmakers attended the funeral. His family members and a childhood friend spoke at the funeral, addressing the hundreds of people who attended.
“My uncle taught me you shouldn’t always tell people what they wanted to hear,” said Friedman’s nephew Jason Berry. “You tell them what they need to know.”
Friedman’s death was unexpected, according to those who were close to him and they described him as a “champion” of the borough.
Among Friedman’s many accomplishments was his ability to advocate for businesses in Queens. In Flushing, he helped guide the creation of a new Chamber of Commerce that aimed to unite Flushing’s diverse community.
“This is a huge loss for the Queens community,” said John Choe, executive director for the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. “Jack has been a great champion of the business community. And he’s helped raise the profile of our borough.”
Friedman suffered from diabetes and, according to a close friend, his kidneys failed over the past week, which put him on a dialysis machine.
State Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) mourned the loss of Friedman, whom he met in the early 2000s when Friedman was president of School District 26. Weprin, who attended the funeral along with many other elected officials, was attracted to Friedman’s fiery sense of civic duty and hired him to be his chief of staff. At the time Weprin was a City Council member and he credits Friedman with spearheading various initiatives that have affected people across the borough.
Although Friedman was with the Queens Chamber of Commerce, his efforts stretched far beyond the business sphere. As Weprin’s chief of staff, he helped passed an after-school program in Queens for autistic children. And he advised and helped Choe launch the Flushing Chamber of Commerce, which was created in 2014.
“It has been incredible to hear all the stories people have about working and their friendships with Jack,” the Queens Chamber when it released information about the Parkside funeral at 98-60 Queens Blvd. in Rego Park.
“He was the middleman between the little guy who owned a business and our political officials,” said Rabbi
Ernest Mayerfeld ,who conducted the funeral services. “That’s why there are so many people in this room.”
Reach reporter Eric Jankiewicz by e-mail at ejank