A farewell to the Queens fi gures we lost in 2021
BY BILL PARRY
While 2021 was filled with loss as the COVID-19
pandemic entered its second year, Queens also said
goodbye to several prominent community leaders
throughout the year.
Jackson Heights mourned the loss of community
leader Joseph William Ricevuto in January. The Korean
War veteran died of health complications at the
age of 88.
Ricevuto moved to Jackson Heights in 1960 and
established the William Hair Stylist barbershop on
the corner of 37th Avenue and 86th Street. He was
the longtime president and organizer of the Men
and Women’s Club of Jackson Heights, a group that
helped address the isolation older adults suffer by
bringing them together regularly for a warm meal
Ricevuto was also president of the Jackson
Heights Beautification Group’s Garden Club, which
planted flowers year after year and more than 100
trees along 37th Avenue, beautifying the neighborhood’s
Jackson Heights lost a second civic leader in January
when Steven Knobel passed away at age 77.
Raised in Far Rockaway, Knobel moved to Jackson
Heights in 1973 after marrying his wife, Suzanne.
Knobel became an activist with the Jewish
Center of Jackson Heights and served as its president
for more than 20 years.
Knobel was proud of the many programs the Jewish
Center offered over the years, which included piano
lessons for children, ESL classes for immigrants,
tutoring sessions for young people, “Broadway & Bagel”
TIMESLEDGER | QNS.8 COM | DEC. 31, 2021 - JAN. 6, 2022
performances, lectures and opera concerts.
He was a strong supporter of the LGBTQ+ community
and Knobel was especially proud that the
Queens Center for Gay Seniors is housed at the
A Flushing centenarian who was known as a
“quiet, shy and strong woman” who loved to read,
died at the age of 103 in March.
Dorothy McDonald lived through the 1918 Spanish
Flu pandemic, two world wars, and the COVID-19
pandemic before passing away in her sleep. McDonald
grew up in College Point to parents who were
heavily involved in Queens civics in the 1950s.
At the age of 16, she became the youngest person
ever to graduate from Flushing High School. During
World War II, McDonald worked as a hostess at a
USO club that provided live entertainment and other
programs to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and
their families. That’s where the 25-year-old McDonald
met her future husband, James McDonald, who
was a soldier in the war. They were married at Fort
Totten in 1944.
McDonald worked as a school secretary at Francis
Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows for more
than 25 years and she was a member of the Great
Neck Women’s Club, a philanthropic organization
that offered various activities and classes for women.
Corona native and longtime Jackson Heights
resident Peter Magnani, who served as deputy
Queens borough president from 1986 to 2001, died
Before joining Claire Schulman’s administration
at Borough Hall, Magnani was involved in
planning projects such as the 9.2-million-squarefoot
Queens West mixed-use waterfront development
in Hunters Point that transformed factories
and warehouses into the luxury high-rise towers
on Center Boulevard.
At Borough Hall, Magnani helped coordinate
projects including the construction of Queens Hospital
Center in Jamaica, the Langston Hughes Library
in Corona and the Flushing Library.
Magnani also served at Queens Public Library
and the New York City Department of City Planning.
“Peter woke up every day determined to make
his beloved Jackson Heights and the ‘World’s Borough’
as a whole a stronger, more vibrant place
to call home,” Queens Borough President Donovan
Richards said. “His legacy will live on across
Queens for decades to come.”
Photo via Getty Images
YEAR IN REVIEW
PETER MAGNANI (L.)