Photo by Naeisha Rose
State Assemblyman Clyde Vanel was at a memorial honoring his predecessor Barbara Clark, who had a maple tree dedicated to her at the 227th Street Cambria Heights Community Garden she supported.
By Naeisha Rose

Family, friends and elected officials from southeast Queens came out in droves Saturday to honor the late state Assemblywoman Barbara Clark at the 227th Street Cambria Heights Community Garden, where artwork, a plaque and a Japanese maple tree were dedicated to her.

The assemblywoman represented the 33rd Assembly District for 30 years before her death in Feb. 22, 2016, at age 76. District 30 covers Queens Village, Bellerose, Hollis, St. Albans, Floral Park and Cambria Heights.

During her tenure, Clark was on the Children and Families, Aging and Environmental committees. Clark was also the chair of the Woman’s Caucus and an activist for education reform, according to www.ourcampaigns.com.

Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village), who was elected to fill her seat, wants to continuing Clark’s work.

“It is an awesome task to be in the position after such a dynamic leader,” Vanel said. “People still come up to me (to) this day to tell me how great a leader she was, and how great an advocate she was. I am humbled to serve in the position she held for 30 years.”

Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) considered Clark a trailblazer for women in politics.

“Way before I even considered running for office, I use to admire Barbara Clark’s fight,” Hyndman said. “When I think of women in government, she was a pioneer. I will never forget her advocacy for southeast Queens. I stand on her shoulders by being here today.”

Patrick Gerald Wah, an artist from Cambria Heights, donated his artwork to the community garden in her honor.

The artwork featured flowers sticking from branches and a lone brown bird perched on one of them.

This touched the hearts of both her family members and friends like Bob Wilkinson.

“I miss Barbara a lot,” said Wilkinson a 50-year Cambria Heights resident. “She is a great void in my life.”

After speeches were made by her friends and her family, Steven Taylor of the Cambria Heights Civic Association and Demetrice Mills who works for the Brooklyn and Queens Land Trust that manages the garden, held ups a plaque in her memory for loved ones to take a picture of.

“In dedication to the Honourable Barbara M. Clark for her advocacy for the community, the needs of children, parents, families, seniors, and education,” the plaque read.

By the entrance of the garden was the one foot tall maple tree, which was tied with a purple bow and had a white cross with “In Loving Memory” inscribed on it.

Also at the event were seniors from the Alpha Phi Alpha senior center, which Clark supported, the National Association of University Women and the Jamaica NAACP, as well as Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) and state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans).

“Barbara Clark was a tireless fighter for the community,” Comrie said. “She was the last person to leave a meeting, because she wanted to make sure that any issue an individual had would be covered and I just admire her tenacity, her perserverance and her diligence.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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