FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM APRIL 29, 2021 • THE QUEENS COURIER 3
Queens Borough Hall unveils Claire Shulman tribute
BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
Family, friends and former staff ers of
Claire Shulman, the late former Queens
borough president, gathered alongside
elected offi cials and community representatives
outside Queens Borough Hall on
April 26 for the unveiling of “One Claire
Shulman Way” as its vanity address.
Shulman, the fi rst female Queens borough
president, served the “World’s
Borough” for 16 years from 1986 to 2002.
She became deputy president in 1980
and interim borough president in 1986
aft er Borough President Donald Manes
resigned. Despite all doomsday prophecies
from the political elite, she went on to win
four re-elections before vacating the seat
due to term limits.
Shulman died on Aug. 16, 2020, at the
age of 94, leaving behind her daughter
Ellen Baker (an astronaut), her son Larry
Shulman (an oncologist) and grandchildren.
Family, friends and elected offi cials
alike called Shulman, who was born in
Brooklyn, a trailblazer who was tough, but
fair, willing to give those who worked hard
a fi ghting chance.
Queens Borough President Donavan
Richards described how the political
establishment underestimated her when
she took over the borough president’s
“Boy, did she prove them wrong. Every
step of the way,” Richards said before listing
some of her many accomplishments
during her tenure as borough president.
Richards spoke about how Shulman led
the charge in the rezoning of dozens of
neighborhoods to create appropriate zoning
restrictions, generating reasonable and
responsible development while preserving
the character of many existing neighborhoods.
She was behind the economic revitalization
of many communities, as well as
the expansion and improvement of the borough’s
infrastructure. She also increased
funding for senior citizens, cultural programs
and libraries during her tenure.
Richards also described how his predecessor
was a powerful advocate for
Queens, fi ghting fi ercely but fairly for the
borough’s residents, never taking no for
Richards shared that she became his
unoffi cial campaign manager last year,
sometimes texting him at 6 a.m. about
issues related to the budget.
“I miss her friendship. I miss her counsel.
I’m reminded of carrying on her legacy
when I sit in that seat every day. And I get
Elected offi cials join family and friends of the late Claire Shulman celebrate the unveiling of “One Claire Shulman Way.”
emotional. Last week, I was going through
text messages from her again. Just reminiscing
on all of those great conversations
we had about the future of this borough.
And we’re going to continue to carry out
that legacy in her honor,” Richards said.
“Miss you, Claire. Miss you, dear. Love
you. I would not be here without you.”
Shulman’s son Larry spoke during the
ceremony and recalled that his mother
was loving and expected a lot from her
kids. He also shared that one of the few
regrets he had was teaching a 90-yearold
how to text message, noting how she
frequently would send messages, oft en at
Dr. Shulman also spoke of the former
borough president’s dedication to Queens
and how much she cared about the people
who live in the borough.
“She cared deeply about the borough.
But not the borough in an abstract way.
She cared about the people who lived
in the borough. Th at’s really what mattered,”
he said before expressing that honoring
his mother’s legacy with the unveiling
of the vanity address means a lot to
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz,
a former borough president, worked for
Shulman and described her as a loving, but
tough leader. Katz recalled how Shulman
gave her a chance when so many others
wouldn’t aft er Katz lost her race for Congress.
“It takes a very strong, confi dent elected
offi cial to hire another elected offi cial
to step up into their offi ce. And it shows
her confi dence. It shows the strength of
her nature. It shows that she was a force of
nature. It showed that she had faith in the
job that I was going to do, which I was forever
grateful for, and she knew that I’d be
loyal to the offi ce, I’d be loyal to her, and
most importantly to her, I’d be loyal to
Queens County. And I am so proud of the
years I spent with her,” Katz said.
Former Acting Queens Borough
President Sharon Lee described Claire
Shulman as legendary and remembered
that Shulman did not waste a single
moment, living life to the fullest, moving
hearts and mountains.
“When you look across this borough
from west to east, north and south, there
is so much that you see is a direct result, a
direct product of her vision and her work,”
Lee said. “No one loved Queens more than
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz worked
on various projects with Shulman for many
years and said that she sees Claire’s infl uence
when she goes around Queens.
“When I was term-limited the fi rst time,
I became very friendly with Claire personally,
where we will go out to dinner,
and sit and talk. All she ever talked about
was Queens, how she loved Queens. You
could sit and listen to her all day long, telling
stories about Queens. I miss Claire
Shulman. Claire, rest in peace. I’m very
Photos by Gabriele Holtermann
happy this building is being named aft er
Claire Shulman, and it’s in my district,”
Councilman Barry Grodenchik called
Claire Shulman a mentor and surrogate
mother and said she helped bring Queens
into the modern era.
“Th ere are two Queens. Th ere is B.C.
Queens and A.C. Queens. Th ere is Before
Claire Queens, and there is Aft er Claire
Queens. And that is really the mark that
she made,” Grodenchik said. “Everywhere
you go in this borough, there is not a
neighborhood that she did not touch.
Th ere is not a neighborhood that did not
benefi t from her wisdom, and her hard
work, and her dedication to the then 2
million people of the borough of Queens.”
Shulman’s former Chief of Staff Alex Rosa
thanked Richards for the extraordinary way
he commemorated Shulman and remembered
how much everyone loved her.
“As Sharon said, she touched our hearts.
And I have seen her move those mountains
as she said, to make things better for
everybody in Queens, whether you were
a senior or schoolchild, and everyone in
between. She found a way to make things
work in every neighborhood to improve
our lives,” Rosa said. “I was lucky enough
to evolve from a staff member to somebody
who actually called her mom. I miss
her dearly, and I’ll look at this address
always, as a reminder of the time that we
had together. God bless you, Claire.”
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