Sunnyside resident Gertrude “Gert” McDonald, a pioneer in Queens politics and longtime civic leader, died on Sunday, May 21. She was 100 years old.
In 1968, McDonald became the first woman to run for elective office as a Democrat in Queens County. She ran for a seat on the New York State Assembly and although she lost, local leaders such as Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan credit her for inspiring other women to run.
“Gert McDonald was a wonderful, community-minded person who cared about making our neighborhoods of Sunnyside and western Queens a better place,” she said. “She paved the way for many woman elected officials like myself to be more active in government.”
McDonald also served on Community Board 2, was the president of the 108th Precinct Community Council and member of both Sunnyside Community Services and United Forties Civic Association. She, along with other community leaders, fought in 2009 to bring back a decommissioned bus stop near Sunnyside Community Services to provide easier transportation access to seniors.
Congressman Joe Crowley called her “a true giant within our borough.”
“For nearly eight decades, Gert harbored an unrivaled passion for civic engagement and for making a difference in her community,” he said. “Gert shattered barriers for women in local politics and became a true inspiration for generations to come.”
McDonald leaves behind her daughter Eileen Auld, seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
The wake will be held at Edward D. Lynch Funeral Home, 43-07 Queens Blvd. on May 24 and May 25 from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
A funeral Mass will be held 10:30 a.m. on May 26, 2017, at St. Teresa Church, located at 50-20 45th St. in Woodside. The burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, located at 49-02 Laurel Hill Blvd.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations in Gert’s memory to The New York Women’s Foundation at 39 Broadway, Suite 2300, New York, NY, 10006.