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Hillcrest Street in Fresh Meadows co-named in honor of deceased NYPD detective

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Catherine Abear unveils the new street sign bearing her husband’s name on their Hillcrest Street. (Photos courtesy of Gennaro’s office)

The skirl of bagpipes filled the air in Hillcrest Saturday morning as the corner of 164th Place and Goethals Avenue was co-named “Detective Raymond Abear Way.”

Detective Raymond Abear, a 20-year NYPD veteran, was honored just down the street from his family home. He died on April 13, 2020, from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in a presumed exposure while on duty. Abear was assigned to the Queens Special Victims Unit when he passed at the age of 43.

Councilman James Gennaro authored the City Council legislation to co-name the street in his memory. The bill passed earlier this month.

“When most of us had the luxury to work from home, Abear was out on the front lines,” Gennaro said. “He dedicated his life working to protect New Yorkers and keep our streets safe. It is my hope that anytime someone comes down 164th Place and Goethals Avenue they are reminded of the great legacy Abear leaves behind. It is an honor to be here today, alongside the Abear family and members of the NYPD to pay tribute to a local hero.”

Abear was born to parents who emigrated from the Philippines and opened a restaurant before buying a home in Queens where they raised their son. After graduating from Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows, he earned a degree in criminal justice at St. John’s University just blocks away from Saturday’s co-naming ceremony.

Catherine Abear admires the sign bearing her husband’s name with her son, Jackson. (Photos courtesy of Gennaro’s office)

Abear joined the NYPD in 2001 and was assigned to the 11th Precinct in Bayside and later to the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills where he worked in the Anti-Crime Unit until he was transferred to the Special Victims Squad at the same precinct. He was working the night watch shift when he began feeling ill on March 30, 2020.

Abear quarantined in the basement of his home with a fever and chills for 10 days, and then he began experiencing shortness of breath. He was rushed to the hospital on April 9, where he died four days later.

“Abear was unwavering in his commitment to New Yorkers during the height of the pandemic,” said Detective Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo. “He continued his tireless crime-fighting work on the front lines until his life was cut short due to the deadly virus. While we cannot repay the debt owed to Raymond and his seven fellow detectives who died from COVID-19 — this street renaming will help ensure we never forget.”

He is survived by his wife Catherine and his two young children, Jackson, age 4, and 2-year-old Stella.

“My husband was a devoted family man, a well-respected NYPD detective and for most of his life, lived here in Queens,” Catherine said. “Ray dedicated his life to making this city, and especially this community where we were raising our two children, a safer place. Ray is a hero — to our community, our city and most especially to our family. This street co-naming will ensure his legacy lives on and when our children walk by, they will know how much Ray meant to the NYPD, our Queens community and New York City.”

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