Queens senator honors 9/11 first responder and longtime Mets usher in pair of street co-naming ceremonies

Lt. Edith Torres street co-naming ceremony Saturday, July 17.
Photo courtesy of State Senator Gianaris’ office

State Senator Michael Gianaris co-named two Astoria streets after local icons on Saturday, July 17, and Sunday, July 18.

Lieutenant Edith Elida Torres, an FDNY member and a first responder during 9/11, was memorialized at the intersection of 34th Avenue and 21st Street, while Luke Gasparre, a U.S. Army veteran and longtime beloved usher for the New York Mets, was honored at the intersection of 25th Avenue and 43rd Street. 

“One of the things that makes western Queens so special is the people who dedicate their lives to service and enrich our neighborhoods with their lives,” Gianaris said in a statement. “I’m honored to recognize two such individuals, Lt. Edith Torres and Luke Gasparre, whose lives of service and love of our community have made them role models for generations to come.” 

Torres died as a result of a 9/11-related illness in 2017 after serving 23 years as an FDNY paramedic. While off-duty, she rushed to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, where she rescued survivors from the piles of debris. She worked at Battalion 49 in Astoria and was then promoted to lieutenant in 2005. She started her career as a volunteer EMT at 20 years old with the Jackson Heights-Elmhurst Volunteer Ambulance Corps. 

“Our family will always love Edith and never forget her sacrifice for New York,” the Torres family said in a statement. “As she liked to say, ‘I respond to all emergency calls with the same purpose — to save and support lives. I’m not a hero; it’s my job.’ That is the kind of selflessness she showed to her community. We are just pleased that everyone who passes by this corner in the future will know who our Edith was and be able to reflect on her life and work.” 

The street co-naming ceremony for Edith Elida Torres Way was held on Saturday, July 17. (Photo courtesy of  Gianaris’ office)

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Torres was an important member of the FDNY whose work saved the lives of many New Yorkers.

“Off-duty on 9/11, she responded, and spent many hours at the site, working to provide medical care that day and for countless days afterward,” Nigro said. “It is that selfless work that led to the illness that claimed her life – and our gratitude to Edith will not diminish even as time passes, and our obligation to her family will not be forgotten.” 

Gianaris also recognized Gasparre, a member of the U.S. Army who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Gasparre also an employee of the U.S. Postal Service and one of the longest-serving ushers in the history of the Mets organization. He started in 1964 and continued ushering until he died in February 2020. Gianaris also inducted Gasparre into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in 2016. 

His daughter, Roseanna Gasparre, said her dad taught her to be kind and have an open heart. 

“His generosity will live in each and every one of us,” she said. “There is a saying when someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure. He truly was a treasure to each of us in his own special way. Those of us will always remember him always wearing a smile, his kind words and his many funny jokes and sayings. He had so many qualities that we all learned from.”

Street re-naming ceremony for Luke Gasparre on July 18, 2021. (Courtesy of Gianaris’ office)

Jen Wilson, the chief operating officer of Army Week, said Gasparre was a treasured member of their organization. 

“Many of the best and brightest and most poignant moments in our short history involved Luke,” Wilson said. “At every event, he needed his own photographer because the line to meet him and take a picture with him was always out the door.  He was an extraordinary man and his mark on us and this city will remain for the ages.”