Susan Rae Farrell never stopped fighting for Woodhaven.
Less than two weeks before the Community Board 9 member died near the end of January, Farrell, 63, had alerted residents to what is quickly becoming one of the area’s more controversial topics thus far this year — the city’s proposal to change traffic directions on 84th Street and 89th Avenue.
“She’s the one who emailed me about the whole 84th Street mess, and that gave us enough time to make a stink about it,” said Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association President Ed Wendell. “She’s the one who brought all of this to our attention.”
Farrell, who died Jan. 19 at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center after coming down with pneumonia, had long been involved in civic affairs and began serving on Community Board 9 in 2002. She also was a member of the WRBA and regularly attended meetings of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society.
“She came to every board meeting, every hearing, no matter what,” said Community Board 9 District Manager Mary Ann Carey. “She was such an asset to the community.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) echoed Carey’s sentiment.
“She was a good friend and a lovely lady,” Ulrich said. “She was at my wedding. She was a big fan of mine, but I was an even bigger fan of hers. She was dynamite, and she’ll be sorely missed.”
Like Carey, Wendell also emphasized Farrell’s dedication to Queens, and particularly Woodhaven.
“This is a woman who had respiratory problems and who could barely walk the last year or so of her life,” Wendell said. “She could barely walk and had trouble breathing, but she’d walk the four or five blocks to WRBA meetings. It was a real effort for her, and that said a lot to me that someone was willing to go through pain to get to be involved.”
Described as a feisty character who was quick to stand up for what she believed in — Carey remembered her also as a “diehard Republican.” Farrell also had a sense of humor that often kept her friends laughing, Wendell said.
“She was a very active, very intelligent young woman who was really smart, really on the ball,” Carey said. “She was very active in the community, and we’ll miss her very much.”
Farrell is survived by her mother, Lillian, as well as other family members and friends who say they hope her legacy will inspire residents for years to come to become deeply-rooted in community issues.
“We need more people like Susan,” Wendell said. “She was such a character, with such a good sense of humor. We are heartbroken.”