FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM DECEMBER 24, 2020 • 2020 YEAR IN REVIEW • THE QUEENS COURIER 17
2020 year in review
government and politics” who was responsible
as “anyone else alive today for making
Black representation in government
Congresswoman Grace Meng remembered
Spigner as a “trailblazer and titan
who fought to represent the lies he represented.”
Spigner represented southeast Queens
on the City Council from 1974 to 2001, the
last 15 of those years as the deputy to the
majority leader Peter F. Vallone.
Queens said goodbye to another leader
in former PFLAG President Anne
Quashen, who died in April at age 88. She
served as the leader of the Queens chapter
of the organization that advocates for gay
people and their families.
Councilman Daniel Dromm recalled
Quashen as a “model LGBTQ activist”
who dedicated “25 years of her life to
providing emotional support and other
resources to family members of LGBTQ
people who chose to live their lives openly
at a time it was not possible to do so.”
Th e borough’s business community
mourned the loss of longtime Plaxall
President Andrew Kirby for always “doing
what’s best” for Long Island City when he
Kirby was a key fi gure in the transformation
of the once-gritty industrial area it
was to the nation’s fastest-growing neighborhoods
it is now,
Kirby served on the board of directors
at the Long Island City Partnership. He
From the world of sports, Yankees pitching
legend and Astoria native Whitey Ford
died in October at age 91.
Known as the “Chairman of the Board,”
Ford was a six-time World Series champion,
Andrew Kirby Claire Shulman
1961 Cy Young winner and World Series
MVP, plus a 10-time all-star for the Yankees
from 1950 to 1967 who put his career on
hold to fi ght in the U.S.Army during the
Korean War from 1951 to 1952.
Astoria bid farewell to another war veteran
when “local legend” Luke Gasparre
died in February at age 95.
At the young age of 18, Gasparre trained
to become a soldier and was assigned to
the 87th Infantry Division that was tasked
with breaking through the German lines
during World War II. He fought in the
Battle of the Bulge, which was the highest
casualty operation in the European
At one point, Gasparre was in combat
for fi ve straight months earning seven
medals including the Bronze Star and
Purple Heart. Upon his return to Astoria,
Gasparre worked for the postal service for
34 years and to make ends meet he took a
job as an usher for the New York Mets for
55 years, the most ever in the Mets organization.
He was also a ticket taker and usher
at the U.S. Open for more than 40 years.
Gasparre also served as the longtime
leader of the Tamiment Democratic Club
in Astoria and was also a member of various
other civic groups.
Fresh Meadows native Philip Kahn
was another member of the Greatest
Generation that died in 2020.
Kahn was a combat veteran of the
Battle of Iwo Jima before serving s a chief
fl ight engineer and co-pilot on a B-29
Superfortress during the months-long fi rebombing
of Tokyo and performed aerial
surveying of the damage done by the
atomic bombs that were dropped on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Kahn died of COVID-19 at age 100, a
century aft er his twin brother succumbed to
the Spanish fl u soon aft er his death in 1919.
Dr. Jimmy Heath
Th e Queens cultural community mourned
the loss of jazz pioneer Dr. Jimmy
Heath at age 93.
Th e longtime Corona resident’s career
began during the big-band era through
bebop and fusion during his seven decades
of jazz history. Heath was a tenor saxophonist
who played in bands led by Miles
Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Ray
Charles, Wynton Marsalis and many others.
In 2003, the National Endowment of
the Arts named him a Jazz Master and he
went on to be a composer and professor
of music at the Aaron Copland School of
Music at Queens College for two decades,
where he helped launch the jazz studies
program in 1986.
Heath went by the nickname “Little
Bird” in reference to fellow jazz legend
Charlie Parker. In 1993, his “Little Man,
Big Band” album was nominated for a
Dr. Jimmy Heath Archie Spigner Anne Quashen