A memorial service for Queens activist Pat Dolan packed the house at Forest Park Chapel Tuesday night.
Dolan, a daughter of New York City who was killed in a traffic accident two weeks ago at the age of 72, was remembered in a ceremony defined more by its love and respect than for tears.
The impact Dolan had on the borough was evident from the guest list alone. Politicians and local leaders joined Dolan’s personal friends and colleagues. Among those in attendance were recently embattled Comptroller John Liu, who had known Dolan for more than a decade, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a legion of City Council and state Assembly members from Queens and more.
“She was such a special person, she had so many hats,” Liu said. “In so many ways, Its hard to believe that such an incredible force has been taken away from us.”
The largest room at Forest Park Chapel on Queens Boulevard was completely full of mourners, so much so that latecomers had to stand in the back of the room to pay their respects.
Forest Park is a Jewish affiliated memorial chapel, and the ceremony was presided over by a rabbi, though Dolan herself was not Jewish. It was a testament to Dolan’s tolerance and willingness to work with everyone, mourners said, that the ceremony was a celebration of such diversity.
“Every time we see another plant, another tree, another beautiful park … we’ll know It was Pat Dolan leading the way,” said Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld. “She was the nuts and the bolts in our community.”
Many of the speakers referenced Dolan’s work as the head of Queens Connection, a service that provided elderly residents with transportation throughout the borough. Queens Connection is headquartered at the Queens Community House in Forest Hills.
Irma Rodriguez, who runs Queens Community House, shared many of the stories that she and her staff remembered of Dolan.
Many of the stories revolved around Dolan’s reputation as a green thumb — and a woman with a sharp sense of humor. Rodriguez had tried, for a long time to raise a cactus plant from a seed, a process she was only successful with because of Dolan’s help.
When Rodriguez asked Dolan for some tips on keeping it alive, Dolan said, “love it, and only water it when it rains in Tucson.”
As the ceremony ended, and Dolan’s hundreds of friends wandered onto Queens Boulevard in an intermittent rain, the words of Dolan’s friend and Borough President Helen Marshall rang in their ears.
“We lost a great soldier in the battle to keep our community safe and beautiful,” Marshall said.