16 THE QUEENS COURIER • DECEMBER 12, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
‘Blue Family’ throws Queens holiday bash
for widows and children of fallen offi cers
BY TODD MAISEL
For families of New York police offi -
cers killed in the line of duty, the holidays
can be a diffi cult time of the year. But
the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association
(PBA) does their best to lift spirits among
their “blue family” with music, great food
Hundreds of families and fellow cops
jammed Russo’s on the Bay in Howard
Beach, on Saturday night for this important
event to show support for families
who have lost their loved ones as cops.
Among those in attendance was new
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea with
his wife Serena, Chief of Department
Terrence Monahan, and a host of entertainers
– including the NYPD Pipes and
Drums who welcomed Santa Claus with
the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
Some of the widows and children have
been attending the PBA holiday event for
more than 40 years, never forgetting their
loved ones — and always fi nding comfort
from the cops who always promise to
Barbara Connolly has been coming to
the Widows and Children holiday party
for 46 years, ever since her husband —
Police Offi cer George Connolly, a member
of the bomb squad — was killed in a
vehicle accident while responding to an
explosion in a building on Fift h Avenue
in lower Manhattan.
“It’s sad, but you have to move on. You
have to make a new life for yourself. We
are so strongly supported by the PBA and
every police offi cer on the street – that’s
comforting,” Connolly said.
Grace Russell lost her husband, Police
Offi cer Michael Russell, in 1979; he was
shot and killed while he and other offi -
cers attempted to arrest an alleged shooter.
Grace was left with her young son Don
and daughter Jessica – but had the help of
the PBA and NYPD.
“At fi rst, I didn’t even want to leave the
house,” Grace Russell recalled of her grief
at the time. She was joined by her two
grown children, both married and with
their own children. “You see the offi cers
and you identify with them, and it makes
you feel so much happier that they are
there for you. Both my children are now
productive members of society – they
didn’t become victims because of the support
we received from the PBA and the
Lisa Tuozzolo stood watching with her
son Austin, as Ryan Lemm — son of the
late Detective Joseph Lemm, killed in
2015 by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan
— got up on a police horse at the event.
Tuozzolo is the widow of Sergeant Paul
Tuozzolo, who was killed by a gunman in
the Bronx in 2016.
“It’s bittersweet to be here – surrounded
by my blue family – offi cers who currently
work in the department and my blue family
who have loved ones who lost members
of the department,” she said as they
disembarked from the police horse saddle.
“It is a time to take a step forward, and
make sure we are still enjoying life, enjoying
the life we still have and honoring the
memory of the loved ones we have lost.”
“Th is party is a wonderful holiday tradition
that brings joy and fun to families
who have made great sacrifi ces for this
city,” said PBA President Patrick Lynch.
“It’s a day we try to celebrate, but we know
that heaviness is always in your heart. It’s
not a day about the celebrities who are
here. It’s not about the PBA and the brass
who attend and helps us to do this. It’s
always about you — the families. What
makes this day special is that you all come
together as a reunion — to see each other,
who grew up in this tragedy.”
Lynch noted that while the PBA and the
NYPD brass clash on occasion, everyone
comes together for the holiday party to
celebrate with families whose loved ones
made the ultimate sacrifi ce for the city.
“We all come together – there is no diff erence
and doesn’t matter whether the shield
is gold or silver,” he said. “We are New York
City police offi cers and we are here to say
thank you to each and every one of you.”
Angelina Liu, born two months after her father Police Offi cer Wenjian Liu was murdered in his
patrol car with Offi cer Rafael Ramos in 2014, is entertained by Commissioner Dermot Shea and wife
The Patrolman’s Benevolent Association holiday party, Lisa Tuozzolo was joined by her son Austin.
She lost her husband Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo in 2016 to a Bronx gunman.
Angelina Liu makes a new friend of the NYPD K-9 crew named Sully and Police Offi cer Belavsky of
the K-9 unit.
Photos by Todd Maisel
The Police Benevolent Association celebrated the holidays with the widows and children of cops
killed in the line of duty at Russo’s on the Bay.