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Queens Chronicle

Civic leader Pat Dolan killed crossing street

On her way to Community Board 8 meeting on transportation issues

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Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2011 12:00 pm

Pat Dolan, 72, of Kew Gardens Hills, a longtime civic activist in her community and throughout Queens, was struck and killed by a car Tuesday night in Hollis on her way to a Community Board 8 meeting.

The accident occurred around 7:30 p.m. on Hillside Avenue near 198th Street when Dolan was crossing the street and was struck by a Nissan sedan that was traveling eastbound. She was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. The motorist remained at the scene.

Dolan was on her way to a CB 8 Transportation Committee meeting at the district office. Member Jim Gallagher of Fresh Meadows was the first to report the accident, not realizing Dolan was the victim.

“I didn’t find out until Wednesday that it was Pat,” Gallagher said. “What a shock. Her community meant everything to her and she knew every nook and cranny of it. Her death is a tremendous loss.”

Gallagher said he was parking his car across the street when he heard a screech and saw a body. He called 911 and someone else pulled a fire alarm box. “I only saw her feet, but someone said the victim didn’t seem to have a pulse,” he said.

“Later, we wondered why Pat wasn’t at the meeting as she had several things on the agenda,” Gallagher said, adding that it was a dark and misty night and the driver may not have seen Dolan.

She was recently called “one of the unsung heroes” by former Borough President Claire Shulman for her tireless work throughout Queens. In June, the Queens Chronicle selected her as one of the “Wonder Women of Queens.”

Born in Brooklyn, Dolan moved to Queens with her parents as a toddler and lived in the family home the rest of her life. She was president of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association and the Queens Civic Congress, an umbrella group with more than 100 community organizations.

She was a founder and president of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy, a founding member of the 1,000 Friends of NYC Parks and served on the Borough Traffic Safety Board. Dolan was also an active member of CB 8 for 20 years, serving on several of its committees.

The civic leader had worked for the Queens Community House since 1991, serving as its director of Queens Connection, a transportation system for seniors. Naomi Altman, associate executive director of QCH, said Dolan will be “tremendously missed. We always counted on her for information.”

When news of her death spread on Wednesday, the outpouring of emotions was evident. Borough President Helen Marshall called Dolan’s commitment “inspiring” and said that Queens lost “a terrific and tireless leader who fought with knowledge and passion for libraries, senior citizens, parks, children, transportation safety and every other issue that affects all of us.”

Marshall recalled that Dolan had met with her office and library officials recently to try to move up the timeline to complete the remodeled Kew Gardens Hills Library.

City Comptroller John Liu of Flushing said that Queens lost “a favorite daughter,” calling her “a tireless advocate” for the borough and the city, and one who was “fearless about speaking her mind.”

Richard Hellenbrecht, of Bellerose, executive vice president of the Queens Civic Congress, said the group is trying to decide how to proceed. “Everyone is devastated,” Hellenbrecht said. “The QCC was her baby and it’s hard to pick up now. It’s just so shocking.”

Paul Graziano, a zoning expert and consultant who has worked on downzoning many neighborhoods in Queens, said that Dolan was “a role model who taught me the ropes.” Graziano noted that she was the first person to do a large-scale contextual rezoning in 1992 that involved 23 blocks in Kew Gardens Hills.

“She was a very important person to me personally and enormously important to Queens because she was involved in every aspect of civic life,” the Flushing resident said, adding that Dolan was “incredibly kind, a very decent person, even though she had a gruff exterior.”

Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) issued a statement praising Dolan’s work. He called her death an “unspeakably tragic loss of the most passionate, committed and effective civic leader in Queens.

“It is simply impossible to conceive of Queens civic affairs without her,” Gennaro continued. “... Knowing Pat, she’s probably already at work devising plans to make heaven a better place.”

Alfred Klein, secretary of the KGHCA, called Dolan “a dynamo” and an expert in many areas. “We relied on her greatly to lead us,” Klein said.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Schwartz Brothers Forest Park Chapel at 114-03 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills.

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