Bayside street co-naming of “Frank Skala Way” will honor late teacher, activist

Bayside street co-naming of “Frank Skala Way” will honor late teacher, activist
Frank Skala, the former teacher and community activist who passed away in 2015, will be honored with a street co-naming at Bell Boulevard and 40th Avenue this month.
Photo by Maria Lopez
By Steven Goodstein

When it came to Frank Skala fighting for his community, you knew that he had to have it his way – the Frank Skala Way.

A street co-naming ceremony is scheduled to take place July 14 on the corner of Bell Boulevard and 40th Avenue to honor the late Skala, a former Bayside teacher and community activist.

A brand new street sign just down the street from where Skala lived for more than seven decades will read “Frank Skala Way”.

“Frank was a lifelong Baysider who looked out for everybody and had a passion for where he lived,” said Bonnie Skala Kiladitis, his daughter. “He was a natural leader, a go-getter who knew he was never going to move out of the neighborhood – and that was his personality. We are all very thrilled about this.”

Bonnie’s brother, Edward, will travel from Virginia to participate in his late father’s street co-naming.

Skala, a colorful community figure who was relentless in his quest to maintain the quality of life in Bayside, grew up on 219th Street and 40th Avenue and graduated from PS 41, then Bayside High School. He went on to attend Queens College for both undergraduate and graduate programs, where he received degrees in history and education.

He taught American History and Geography for 33 years at Campbell Junior High School 218, now closed, as well as the Adrien Block Intermediate School 25. Skala retired in 1992.

He founded the East Bayside Homeowners Association in 1974 to preserve the suburban nature of Bayside and to help maintain its beautiful neighborhoods. Skala was a frequent contributor to the letters page of the Bayside Times, tackling issues such as zoning and overdevelopment.

In 1991 Skala established the New Bayside High Alumni Association, an organization which awarded scholarships and raised money for students. He also served as a member of Community Board 11 for 12 years and was an advocate for no-kill animal shelters.

The street co-naming, which was presented to the City Council for approval by Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), will take place down the street from All Saints Episcopal Church, where he served as a member of the chorus as well as a lay reader.

“Frank Skala was a fiercely dedicated community activist and civic leader,” Vallone said. “His enormous and lasting impact on the community is clearly evidenced by Community Board 11’s and the City Council’s unanimous vote to have 40th Avenue and Bell Boulevard co-named in his honor.”

“This is a well-deserved honor for a longtime community activist,” said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who was a civic member when he first met Skala.

“He was an active community leader who always fought to preserve the quality of life in his neighborhood,” he said. “I miss him dearly, but I am very happy that we are able to acknowledge him, his family and all he did for Bayside.”

Skala was also a recipient of a New York State Senate Liberty Medal, a prestigious honor to recognize bravery, courage and heroism. It is described as the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an individual by the state Senate.

Skala died from a stroke in 2015 at age 78, one month after receiving the award.

The date of the street co-naming would have also been Skala’s 81st birthday.

The Department of Transportation will install the “Frank Skala Way” street sign the night before and unveil the sign during the ceremony. The co-naming will take place in the early afternoon on July 14, but the time has not yet been determined.

Reach Steven Goodstein by e-mail at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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