‘He touched and impacted so many lives’: Queens lawmakers, community members honor late Flushing civic activist Don Capalbi with street sign

Don Capalbi
Local elected officials and community residents gather for the unveiling of ‘Don Capalbi Way’ in Flushing on Sunday, Oct. 30. (Photo courtesy of Ashook Ramsaran)

Local elected officials joined community members to honor the life of the late Don Capalbi with a street renaming ceremony in Flushing on Sunday, Oct. 30. 

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Councilwoman Sandra Ung and Congresswoman Grace Meng were gathered at the corner of 136th Street between 57th Road and 58th Avenue for the unveiling of “Don Capalbi Way.”

The event was organized by the Don Capalbi Way Committee and Ung’s office. Ashook Ramsaran, of the NY-Presbyterian Queens Community Advisory Council, formed the Capalbi Way Committee, along with three other members, to honor Capalbi with a street sign. 

“He was one of those people who was vocal about getting things done for the betterment of the people living in his neighborhood,” Ramsaran said. “I am privileged to have led the effort to co-name this street Don Capalbi Way, a truly deserving tribute to an outstanding community advocate, mentor and friend. Don, you will always be remembered and here’s proof of that.” 

Terence Park, president of the Asian American Voters Alliance, reflected on the day he met Capalbi and they became good friends. 

“One day he asked me, ‘Terence, do you know what kind of ship, the best ship you can think of navigating the sea?’ I said ‘I don’t know.’ He said, ‘There are wooden ships, steam ships, steel ships, and many more, but the best ship is a friendship. You’re my friend,’ and he was my friend until he died,’” Park said. “I remember him as a good son, too. He never forgot to prepare his mother a meal before going out. I am sure he will smile at the ‘Don Capalbi Way’ street sign he watches us from above. I miss him and am proud of him.”

Late Flushing Activist Don Capalbi (Photo via Twitter/Congresswoman Grace Meng)

Capalbi died at the age of 73 in December 2018. He was a longtime resident of Queensboro Hill and was involved in many local organizations. Capalbi was the president of the Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association, a member of Community Board 7, and a longtime member of NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Community Advisory Council.

Capalbi served as vice president of Terence Park’s Our Flushing Political Coalition and was a member of the executive board of the Democratic Club of Flushing.

He was a community liaison for Meng and he served in the same capacity when the congresswoman was a member of the NY State Assembly. 

“He also fought tremendously for his neighborhood, dedicating countless hours to preserving and improving the quality of life in his community,” Meng said. “He touched and impacted so many lives and was loved, admired and respected by all with whom he worked. He is known and admired for his many years of dedication and unwavering commitment to community service.”

Ung said she was fortunate to get to know Capalbi while they were both working for Meng. 

“Don was a thoughtful and caring person who was always thinking of others. He was a dedicated activist who was involved with community groups and organizations too numerous to mention, and his passing left a big hole in our community,” Ung said. “I was glad that one of the first things I was able to accomplish when I took office earlier this year was to get a street renamed for Don so his memory will live on in the neighborhood he called home.” 

Richards remembered Capalbi as a fighter “who put in long hours each day for decades to make sure north Queens was a stronger, fairer place for families to call home.”

“A true public servant, he gave every ounce of himself to his neighbors. On behalf of our borough, I’m deeply grateful to Don’s family for sharing him with all of us for so many years,” Richards said. 

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