People for the Pavilion, the preservation group aiming to save the icons of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, announced on Sunday that Christian Doran, one of its founding members, passed away on Saturday night.
He was only 28 years old.
According to fellow group members Salmaan Khan and Matthew Silva, Doran, a Maspeth resident and audio engineer at the Queens Theatre, suffered from asthma and died of an asthma attack.
“Over the past months, we have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to become friends and partners with Christian Doran,” Khan and Silva said in a statement the group posted on its Facebook page. “If you had the opportunity to speak with him, you knew he was special.
“He was someone who could share his passion in a way that could excite absolutely anyone,” the statement continued, “and he had a knack for comfortably engaging those around him.”
Even though they only met in September, Khan remembers Doran as a man who was full of life and energy.
“I remember the first time we met at the Queens Theatre. He was super friendly and I just got good vibes from him,” Khan said over the phone on Monday. “He cared a lot. No matter what happens [with the pavilion], he’s a part of it.”
Khan said he and Silva will “take the next few weeks” to remember their friend and re-evaluate where People for the Pavilion stands, but they will continue their push to preserve the iconic structures as the 50th anniversary of the global gathering approaches.
Silva, speaking in a somber tone, said he was always amazed at how his friend and colleague was able to touch the lives of everyone around him.
“It’s incredible how in such a short amount of time, he’s meant so much to so many people. He certainly has left a legacy,” he said. “He was very dedicated and he was really looking for [the pavilion] to be something he could dedicate the rest of his life to.”
Borough President Melinda Katz released a statement on Monday lamenting Doran’s death, calling for his efforts to save the pavilion to continue.
“I will work diligently to fulfill Mr. Doran’s wish that the pavilion never be torn down,” Katz said. “I spoke with Mr. Doran just last Thursday ... and was very impressed with his dedication to making sure that this iconic structure is preserved for future generations to enjoy.”
A tribute page dedicated to the late activist, called the Christian Doran Tribute Page, was created on Facebook late Sunday night. By 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the group already had a remarkable 950 members.
“Christian always had something funny to say, which made working in sometimes difficult situations a little easier,” one mourner said on the page.
“One thing I always noticed about him was that he was able to light up the room and grab everyone’s attention who was in it,” another message read.
Doran’s wake was held at Gleason’s Funeral Home in Flushing on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The late activist’s funeral was to take place Thursday morning at St. Gregory the Great church in Bellerose.