Grand Marshals for Maspeth Memorial Day Parade Announced

Leonard Williams was born in 1951, the third in a family of five children. He spent his childhood in Williamsburg before the family moved to Middle Village in 1963. He attended St. John’s Preparatory High School and the New York School of Printing. 

Not a fan of school, Len decided to join the military at age 17 — although his mother and aunts didn’t want him to. He started out his service in Georgia for basic training and then worked on radio communications and repair in the Signal Corps. Following that, he did infantry training in South Carolina before volunteering to go to Vietnam. In January of 1970, a few months after turning 18, he arrived in the country and was assigned to drive convoy — even though he didn’t yet have a driver’s license. For his last year in service, Len worked in the German Black Forest at a top-secret missile depot. 

Len’s service ribbons include Expert in M16, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal with 2 OS Bars. 

Len said he considers himself very lucky that he was able to drive convoy. Others in his infantry unit were involved in two different battles, one only 25 miles away from where he was working. He explained that he suffers from survivor’s guilt. 

“If I was not transferred to transportation, I should’ve been there. I should have been at that battle. But I wasn’t. And that’s when I turn around and say, but for the grace of God… I suffer from like, I should’ve been there. Not that I wanted to be there, but…” 

Len said he thinks about Vietnam all the time. 

“You wake up every day, no matter how many years, you still think about it,” he said. “We all do.”

After his service, Len kept driving. He started in 1978 as a bus driver for the Triboro Coach Bus Company (before the private bus companies in Queens were absorbed into the Department of Transportation). He worked as a driver for 20 years, then as a line supervisor for the next 15, and finally as a safety trainer for his final five years. 

After retiring, Len became active in the Vietnam Veterans of America, and was elected president of Chapter 32 in 2023. He helps lead the organization in hosting fundraisers and providing supplies for the men’s veterans shelter on Borden Ave in Long Island City and the state nursing home for veterans in St. Albans. The group also does street dedications and street fairs. They used to do indigent burials, but that paused during Covid. Len says he’s trying to bring that program back. 

“I guess we make you feel comfortable, like be proud that you’re military, instead of just falling by the wayside. That’s what we do, we connect with veterans,” Len said.

Barbara Pryor’s family has been a fixture in the Maspeth community for many years. Her father, Stanley Joseph Pryor, served in World War II before opening up a law practice in Maspeth in the 1950s. Barbara joined the practice in 1982, where she still works today as a real estate attorney. 

Barbara attended Holy Cross School, The Mary Louis Academy, Fordham University and Brooklyn Law School. She is a member of the Queens County, New York State and New York City Bar Associations and is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. Barbara has served as Board president of Queens Council on the Arts. She is a member of the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce, member and past president of the Maspeth Kiwanis Club, and board member of Maspeth Town Hall. 

Although she no longer lives in Maspeth, Barbara cares deeply about the community. 

“Maspeth is a great community,” she said. It’s filled with people who care, people who still think about tradition — like honoring our veterans, year after year. The bank does so many great things for the community, including sponsoring this parade. It’s just a nice place to live.”

Barbara will always cherish the gift of having been chosen as a grand marshal for the Memorial Day parade. 

“I’m so honored to be [a grand marshal] with Len Williams, honoring not only our veterans past and present but the community of Maspeth.”

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