By Eric Jankiewicz
Jack Friedman, 56, who served as the executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce since 2007, died Thursday morning.
Friedman’s death was unexpected, according to those who were close to him and they described him as a “champion” for the borough.
“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 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.
“He was active in every aspect of life in Queens,” Weprin said. “Jack was that busy person and if you wanted to get something done, you went to him.”
Although Friedman was a member of 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.
“This is absolutely devastating,” Weprin said. “He was much too young. He was supposed to continue to grow in the community and become an elderly statesman. This shouldn’t have happened.
Bryan Block, the chairman of Community Board 13, said “this is a real loss for New York City but especially for the borough of Queens. He was a real friend, a class act and this is truly sad, especially at the time of Passover.
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) said Friedman “is someone who is going to be sorely missed.”
Lancman, who met Friedman at the beginning of his political career in the early 90s, said, “I remember him as always being part of the political and civic landscape.”
Sadef Kully and Bill Parry contributed to this story.