If you’ve ever been to the Alley Pond Environmental Center, you would certainly remember the gift shop and the wonderful couple who ran it. Their names, Barbara and David Friedman, hung proudly on the overhang above the trinkets and knickknacks for many years. Barbara continued her dedicated volunteer work for APEC and the community even after her husband’s death in 2013 until her own last week. She was 97.
“My mother was an amazing woman,” remembered daughter Abby Applebaum. “My mother was a loving mother to my brother Josh and me, a devoted wife to my father. She loved to entertain and host guests. She was very close to her family.”
Friedman was born in Hartford, Conn., in 1923. She spent her childhood performing songs at local theaters and as a weekly guest on a kid’s radio show, where she was called the “girl of today who sings songs of yesterday.”
Friedman met David during World War II while she served in the USO at the nearby Bradley Field, Conn. The two became engaged just before he left for a year and a half of service, and married in December of 1945.
The Friedmans lived in Chicago while David attended Northwestern Law School and she worked as a secretary. They then moved to Manhattan before finding their forever home in Queens. They lived their first few years in Flushing, where they helped form the North Shore Reform Democratic Club, for which she served as secretary, and ultimately settled in Beechhurst.
Friedman was active in the community and worked for several causes: She served as the president of the Flushing Chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, where she petitioned to end the Vietnam War, marched for civil rights and supported the Grape Growers and Lettuce Pickers boycott.
She was a member of the Whitestone Hebrew Center and on the PTA board for PS 107. Professionally, she worked as a transcriber for a court reporter and as a staffer for former Councilmember Ed Sadowsky.
Friedman even found time to sing as a member of the Harmonies folk group.
“She had a beautiful singing voice,” Applebaum recalled.
Friedman joined APEC as its board secretary in 1991. She was excited at the opportunity to “do something worthwhile,” by preserving wetlands and advocating for environmental protection through education. She accepted a volunteer position managing the gift shop five years later and recruited her husband to join her. Friedman stepped back from full-time volunteer work in 2017, but remained an involved member through the end of her long, accomplished life.
Friedman is survived by her children Joshua Friedman, Applebaum and husband Jerrold, grandson Seth Applebaum and wife Jessica and great-grandchildren Jacob and Elizabeth. She also has a great-grandson, David, named after her husband.
Friedman was laid to rest March 25 at New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon, L.I. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to APEC or the Whitestone Hebrew Center.