Queens Village and Cambria Heights community members, elected officials and representatives of the FDNY joined the family of the late Melody Edwards as they unveiled a street sign for Melody Anne-Simone Edwards Way Saturday.
The neighborhood was rocked two years ago when a Sunday afternoon four-alarm fire destroyed three homes and took the lives of five people between the ages of 2 and 20 years old, including the 17-year-old Edwards, an Arista National Honor Society member, track and volleyball star, and prospective graduate at the Queens High School of Teaching.
Edwards had been visiting the home of her friend, Jada Foxworth, who also perished in the fire, to tutor one of the children there when the deadly blaze broke out.
“Melody was more that a gifted scholar and athlete; she was a mentor to her peers who led by the example of her character,” Councilman I. Daneek Miller said. “Today’s dedication of Melody Anne-Simone Edwards Way will reflect not only on the tragedy that took a life that held so much promise but the fact that, in life as well as death, Melody’s legacy set the standard for the next generation, and her memory will forever raise our community up.”
FDNY Assistant Chief Edward Baggott attended the emotional event with members of Engine Company 317/Ladder Company 165/Battalion 54. Investigators found there were no working smoke detectors in the home at 112-16 208th St. and several safety awareness town halls were held throughout southeast Queens in the aftermath.
“Five young lives were taken in this tragic fire, including Melody Edwards, who we honor and remember with this street co-naming,” Baggott said. “The FDNY is deeply committed to reaching every community with the life-saving message of fire safety education and we want each New Yorker to have a working smoke alarm in their home.”
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz remembered the young lady who wanted to study law.
“Melody Edwards was a bright and talented young woman who, before her tragic passing, was a true leader in her school, her church and her community,” Katz said. “By co-naming 118th Avenue in her honor, Melody’s memory will inspire generations of young people to live as she did, with grace, humility and a passion for lifting others up.”
During a memorial service last year, her debate teacher at P.S./I.S. 270 in Rosedale remembered how Edwards went to school officials to intervene when a gang was recruiting a shy friend of hers.
“Melody Anne-Simone Edwards was a gifted young woman with a bright future and she will be missed by family, friends and our community. Though we lost her and four other young adults and children is an unspeakable tragedy, we saw the best of who we are in its aftermath,” state Senator Leroy Comrie said. “Melody’s family is preserving her legacy by continuing to give back to the community and I commend them for their strength.”
The Edwards family established a $1,000 scholarship in her name for graduating high school students who demonstrate a strong commitment to volunteerism as she did. They also plan to create a foundation called #E4M, Everything for Melody, to foster a spirit of service within their community.
“Melody was an inspiration to us all, she had done something that we all aspire to do and that’s to maximize our time,” Assemblyman Clyde Vanel said. “The love that has been shared reverberated throughout her community since her passing can only be described as she was: special.”