Former Queens Chamber of Commerce President Albert Pennisi died Thursday, April 23, after a valiant two-year battle with pancreatic cancer, according to his family.
Pennisi, 79, died at his home, surrounded by his loved ones.
Born in 1940, Pennisi served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1962 to 1968 and as a New York State Trooper from 1963 to 1966. He graduated from St. John’s University Law School in 1966 and practiced corporate real estate and trust and estates law for more than 50 years.
Pennisi served two terms as president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce (QCC) and sat on its board of directors until he passed.
“Al was so committed to the Chamber’s growth that after he was term-limited out after eight years he still wanted to serve as our general counsel and he did that pro bono,” Queens Chamber of Commerce Chairman Thomas Santucci said. “He never shied away from controversy and he took on big projects and he did them well, always with a professional smile and a firm handshake.”
Santucci knew Pennisi for more than 30 years and admired his commitment to the businesses of the borough.
“Al preceded me as president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce,” former QCC President Carol Consalato said. “I remember after I was elected Al couldn’t do enough to help and ensure a smooth transition. He loved the Chamber and he truly loved Queens.”
Under Pennisi’s leadership, the Queens Chamber of Commerce increased its influence at the community level, creating merchant associations to help spur economic growth across the borough and helping the city reach international markets.
Pennisi was passionate about advocating for his clients and was committed to community development. He also served as a trustee of Plaza College.
Plaza College president Charles E. Callahan called Pennisi a valued member of the school’s board who played a critical role in its transition from Jackson Heights to its current location in Forest Hills.
“Al Pennisi was truly the ‘lawyer’s lawyer. He had a tremendously warm and caring personality wrapped in the ultimate level of class and style,” Callahan said. “His guidance, counsel and friendship will be missed by many, especially the administration and board of trustees at Plaza College.”
Pennisi also served as president of the Queens Botanical Gardens and sat on numerous boards of directors. He was also an active member of the Queens Real Estate Board, the Queens Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association.
Pennisi was honored by The Queens Courier and Queens Business Today as a “King of Queens” for his leadership in the business community.
“Al was my real estate lawyer, friend and mentor,” Schneps Media President and Publisher Victoria Schneps said. “He as a well-deserved King of Queens and a class act as a gentleman who I was proud to call a friend.”
Pennisi was a longtime fundraiser for various charities including the American Cancer Society. Pennisi is survived by his wife Annette, and their two children and four grandchildren.
A funeral Mass and memorial service to celebrate his life well lived will be held when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.