The air was heavy with grief on a brisk, rainy, Friday morning, as hundreds of mourners came together at St. Andrew Avellino Roman Catholic Church in Flushing to show their respects for the late Paul Vallone, a former councilmember who died over the weekend.
The church was packed with a standing-room-only crowd as guests poured inside to pay homage to Vallone, who died of a heart attack on Saturday night at the age of 56. The crowd rose from their seats as a procession led Vallone’s coffin, draped with a satin white cloth with a prominent red cross, to the front of the church.
The attendees were there in recognition of Vallone’s service to Queens, and to support his prominent family. He represented District 19 in eastern Queens from 2014 to 2021., following in the political footsteps of his father, Peter Sr., who was a former City Council speaker—representing Astoria from 1974 to 2021. Vallone’s brother Peter Jr. succeeded his father to take the Astoria seat in the city council from 2002-2013.
Many high-profile attendees including Mayor Eric Adams, District Attorney Melinda Katz, former mayor Rudy Guliani, former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards were in attendance.
Adams delivered a speech at the beginning of the service attesting to Vallone’s character.
“It is extremely challenging to find the words to talk about my friend Paul, but all I can do is reflect on his contributions and the legacy of the Vallone family,” Adams said.
The mayor then looked at Vallone’s elderly father Peter Sr. and said: “Mr. Vallone, you have nurtured and counseled me through the years. You’ve treated me like your son, and the fruits of your commitment and dedication to the city was reflected in Paul. He was so sincere and authentic, he did not allow the uncertainties of politics to corrupt the basics of who he was as a person.”
Adams was the only elected official to speak during the service.
Vallone’s three children—Catina, Lea and Charlie—gave heartfelt eulogies as they reflected on their dad’s compassion.
His daughter Lea expressed her love for her father.
“To me he is larger than life itself, he taught me to see the purest parts of everything and everyone, to treat everyone with a gift of a smile,” Lea said. “The love you have shown me and the way you understand me is something I’ll never get to experience again in this life.”
Vallone’s 16-year-old son Charlie reflected on his father and the immense space he took up in his heart. “For all of us my dad is present in everything we do. He is our motivation, and our pride.”
Meanwhile his daughter Catina said she was proud of her dad. “I am always with you and always will be. Everything I do is for you. I could not be more blessed to have you as my dad.”
Closing out the funeral ceremony, Vallone’s daughters and nieces gathered to sing a touching rendition of Silent Night
Vallone is survived by his wife, Anna Marie, his three children, his brothers Perry and Peter Jr., as well as his parents, Peter Sr. and Tena.