Neary passed away in November 2014 at the age of 94. She was a former director and newsletter editor for the United Forties Civic Association, and was also involved with Community Board 2, St. Teresa’s Rosary Society and the Girl Scouts.
Elected officials and family members remembered Neary as a local advocate who cared deeply about her neighborhood.
“Dorothy understood the importance of community and civic activism,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley. “She often encouraged others to be present, to be involved and to be a change maker.”
She lived on 48th Street in Woodside, between the Long Island Expressway (LIE) ramps. She was an outspoken critic of city planner Robert Moses for building the LIE and taking “half of our community away,” according to Crowley.
“She was known for fighting against the traffic, the noise, the fumes, the trucks that would come barreling down 48th Street,” Crowley said. “Everybody had to watch out for Dorothy, even the truckers.”
For more than 15 years, Neary wrote the newsletter for the United Forties Civic Association, which informed residents about local issues. Don McCallian, president of the civic group, saluted Neary’s photo before speaking about his longtime friend.
“Dorothy had a policy: If you take on a project, follow it through, don’t let it drop,” McCallian said. “She was wonderful at that. If she got you involved, you had to see it through too.”
State Senator Michael Gianaris noted that Neary’s legacy will be the impact she had on making Woodside “such a great place to live.” He said everyone will continue to honor her legacy by making the neighborhood stronger for residents.
“She was worried most about the people who lived here and making sure their neighborhood and quality of life was protected,” he said. “That’s what we promise to do in her name going forward.”
Joe Conley, former longtime chair of Community Board 2, not only called Neary a friend, but also his landlady. He spoke about her efforts to bring down billboards in the community, which he said were a blight.
“Dorothy, with the advent of email, found a new way to get a message across,” Conley said to laughter in the crowd. “Dorothy would accept nothing less. In Dorothy’s life, there was no other way.”
The street co-naming ceremony concluded with remarks by Patricia Neary Boyd, Neary’s daughter who now lives in Massachusetts. Boyd brought several clips of her mother’s newsletter and reminisced on her mother’s work in the community.
She drew several lessons from her mother’s life, especially civic engagement.
“Keep engaged with your community, get out there, go to everything,” Boyd said. “Please stay involved. This community is great.”