State, local officials gather to honor community leader

By Don Finck

For Seymour Schwartz, a retired pharmaceutical executive who devoted his entire life to the betterment of society, it was like an episode of “This is your life,” the old TV reality-documentary show from 1952 to 1961 where the host would take the guest through a retrospective of their lives with surprise appearances by colleagues.

At a meeting of the Briarwood Community Association on June 8, Sey Schwartz, a decorated World War II veteran, was retiring after 23 years as President of the Briarwood Community Association.

On the agenda was an election for a new board of directors. The scheduled guest speaker for the evening was Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who swore in the new board members.

In recognition of his contributions to the community and the borough, Schwartz was presented with a framed proclamation that lists his accomplishments, which include getting an elevator installed at the local subway station and having the station renamed as the “Briarwood” subway station. The proclamation also states that June 8 is be known here as “Seymour Schwartz Day.”

This special honor for “Sey” had previously been bestowed by former Borough President Helen Marshall in 2005.

The first surprise guest was state Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing), who presented a framed proclamation that credits Sey with successfully getting a new post office, a Briarwood branch of the Queens’s library, a subway stop name change and a pedestrian walkway on Queens Boulevard.

The next surprise guest was City Councilman Rory Laneman (D-Hillcrest), who also presented a framed proclamation that lists among, other accomplishments, refurbishing of the basketball court at Manton Park, serving on the United Civic Council of Queens County and on the advisory board of the Briarwood Family Shelter, and serving as the vice chairman of Community Board 8.

Next was a representative for Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), who sent a framed proclamation that recognized Sey for transforming the BCA into an influential civic group that not only addresses the concerns of the area residents with quality of life issues, but also organized the vital support of local businesses schools and institutions. Meng also declared the day “Seymour Schwarz Day” throughout her 6th Congressional District.

The proclamation also recognizes Sey as an original founder and current officer of the Queens Civic Congress, a member of the Briarwood Family Residence Advisory Board, and a board member of the St. Christopher/Ottilie Family of Services.

He also created and organizes the annual Briarwood Street Festival, giving the nearly 1,000 residents of all ages an opportunity to enjoy entertainment, music, rides, food, drinks and ice cream, free of charge.

Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) was the last surprise guest to present a framed proclamation that mentions the subway station’s new name, new post office, Queens Boulevard promenade, and the Briarwood branch of the Queens Library.

On July 29, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is scheduled to award Schwartz with the “New York State Medal of Freedom.”

Don Finck


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