A pillar in the Corona and East Elmhurst community was memorialized in the neighborhood she loved and lived in for more than 70 years with a street co-naming that morphed into a block party on Friday afternoon, Sept. 16.
Mary Waller Moody died in June 2021, leaving a legacy of commitment to the community throughout her life — from leading desegregation efforts to creating educational opportunities for children and providing daycare services for working mothers to helping low-income neighbors with housing assistance and more. Joined by her family and friends, Councilman Francisco Moya unveiled “Mary Moody Way” at the corner of 99th Street and 35th Avenue and remembered the longtime Corona resident as a beloved staple in the community.
“I fondly remember her great wisdom and big heart, and as neighborhoods change and evolve, people will learn about Mrs. Moody, what she did for this community, and what she represented for the great neighborhoods of Corona and East Elmhurst,” Moya said. “As someone who grew up in, lives in and serves this neighborhood, celebrating and memorializing this extraordinary woman alongside her family and community is one of the greatest honors I’ve had. ‘Mary Moody Way’ will inspire generations to come to be compassionate and advocate for the betterment of people.”
Waller Moody served as a Girl Scout leader at the First Baptist Church, was an election inspector and supervised the Saturday educational program for children in Corona at Grace Episcopal Church. She owned and operated by Big City Realty, which helped provide residence for low-income families in Corona, and provided daycare services for working mothers. She also served in several roles including as a paraprofessional at P.S. 92 in Corona, and later worked with 25 schools in School District 30. Waller Moody was also involved in other community efforts including the Flushing Meadow Soap Box Derby in East Elmhurst and collecting toys for children with disabilities at Goldwater Hospital.
“She loved everyone, loved children, and loved her community. Till her very last days, she cared for people,” said her daughter Andreii Moody Lynch. “She used to say she was the mayor of Corona and rightfully earned the nickname because not only did she start desegregation in 1959-1960, she made sure children weren’t mistreated and had opportunities. She also helped her neighbors with housing and her tenants during the pandemic by not charging them for rent. My hope is when they see the street sign when my great, great-grandchildren see Mary Moody Way, they are inspired by what she did.”
Rev. Patrick Young, the pastor of First Baptist Church, is Moody’s adopted son, and he compared her to the hero in a surprise box office hit.
“As we celebrate the movie of Viola Davis, ‘The Woman King,’ here in Corona, we want to celebrate the real warrior queen in our community, Mary Moody. She was a queen for our children, a queen for our community, a queen for education, who fought against segregation, who fought for the inclusion of our children in every effort, and who gave to make sure and ensure our children had opportunities,” Young said. “She was a woman who walked with a sense of dignity and had a devotion to those who needed it the most — when people see Mary Moody Way, I want them to know that this was a queen who cared.”