Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joined elected officials and residents in a unique street co-naming event in Kew Gardens on Saturday, Oct. 21, honoring the lives of Carol and Murray H. Berger — civic leaders who dedicated their lives to community service.
“When you go to Kew Gardens you couldn’t avoid Carol and Murray. They were involved in this community in so many ways. Carol and Murray’s living room was like the town hall of Kew Gardens. It was a place people convened to discuss the pressing issues, figure out the problems, of course socialize, develop a sense of community and neighborliness,” said Schumer.
Schumer recalled meeting with the couple and how their candor in speaking about the wants and needs of the community didn’t waiver in any situation.
“I remember that meeting and just learning so much. I don’t think I learned about any single neighborhood in one sitting more than I learned about Kew Gardens with Carol and Murray,” he added.
On the corner of Kew Gardens Road and 83rd Avenue, in front of P.S. 99, elected officials, local leaders, family and nearby residents, who all knew of Carol and Murray’s work as civic leaders in the Kew Gardens community, spoke on the couple’s life-long service.
“Growing up in our house was a little different. While Jim and I were youngsters, the burning question most weeknight evenings was not, ‘It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where you’re children are?’ It was my brother and I asking each other, ‘which meeting are our parents at tonight?’ We always found the answer, it was written on a napkin on the kitchen table,” said Madeline Berger, Carol and Murray’s daughter. “Even with that schedule, our parents were very present and always there for Jim and I, and the other kids on the block. And we were a close family with close neighbors.”
The rarity of a street co-naming, with both names on one sign, immortalized Murray and Carol Berger, while serving as a reminder of their lifelong commitment to upkeep civic duty and their influence on the growth of P.S. 99.
Carol was instrumental in the creation of the P.S.99 annex and multiple new commodities for the school. The school also serves as a main voting location for the neighborhood, which was one of the many civic duties the couple made sure to emphasize at home, their daughter Madeline recalled.
Murray was best known for serving as the president, chairman and executive chairman of the Kew Gardens Civic Association. He co-founded the Kew Gardens Council for Recreation and the Arts, was a member of the Community Preservation Coalition and served on the Land-Use Committee of Queens Community Board 9.
Professionally, he worked as a printer and business owner, starting his printing career in New York City at The Comet Press in 1947. He would there meet the production manager, Carol Winfield, and the couple were married in 1955.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, Council Member Lynn Schulman, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, among others, shared personal anecdotes and admirations about the couple.
“I ran three times before I got elected and when I first ran in 2001, I went to visit the Kew Gardens Civic Association and Murray Berger. I mean, you have to do your homework, know what you’re talking about when you go meet with folks in this community and not just BS stuff but you have to know exactly the details of everything you’re going to talk about, and since then, they’ve kept my feet to the fire in doing that,” said Schulman. “Because of that, we were able to build a really strong relationship and I really value that.”
Hevesi also acknowledged the lifelong achievements of Carol and Murray.
“These are people who care about our community and fighting for our community for decades. And the fact that it’s outside of P.S. 99 is just a great thing. So I’m proud to be here. I am grateful to the family for allowing your parents to have that service.” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi.
Meng presented the family with an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol and praised the two civic activists. Those who knew the couple said they would have been thrilled with the attendance at the unveiling of their street naming.