By Tom Momberg
Bayside leaders and the friends and family of Frank Skala reflected on his life this week following the death of the civic leader and community activist.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) lauded Skala’s contributions to the neighborhood, which would not have been as acutely aware of the issues facing the community if it had not been for him.
“One need not enumerate the myriad of ways in which Frank made his community a better place – a simple conversation with anyone who knew this great man would sufficiently convey the level of respect with which he was held,” Avella said in a statement. “Frank was an entrepreneur, a teacher, an activist, a philanthropist and a local leader. More than that, he was a dedicated father, husband and a dear friend.”
Joyce Shepard, who served in the rank-and-file alongside Skala on Community Board 11, recalled how much of a fighter he was and said he probably continued fighting right up until the end.
“He and I hated each other, but I loved him and I’m sure he loved me,” Shepard said, elaborating on their complicated relationship. “Frank had a lot of respect from the politicians … He made friends with them: He was smart and achieved more, because he raised them up, wheras I beat them down and exposed them.”
Shepard said Bayside lost a champion with the passing of Skala.
“He was very sincere, and he was first and foremost an activist. He never looked for any accolades,” she said.
State Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) said the way in which Skala proved his dedication to his community was unique.
“Throughout his tenure as president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association and as a member of Community Board 11, Frank fought passionately to protect the quality of life of our neighborhood. Frank’s service left a lasting impact and he will truly be missed,” Braunstein said in a statement.