Queens Honors Councilman Paul Vallone with Heartfelt Bench Dedication


Mohamed Farghaly

Community members, political leaders, and loved ones gathered at Francis Lewis Park in Queens to unveil a memorial bench honoring the late Councilman Paul Vallone.



Community members, political officials, and friends gathered solemnly at Francis Lewis Park on June 14 for a heartfelt dedication ceremony honoring the late Councilman Paul Vallone. The event, organized by the Friends of Francis Lewis Park, paid tribute to Vallone’s enduring legacy of service and dedication to Queens’ District 19.

Formerly a distinguished member of the New York City Council and currently serving as the city’s Veterans Services deputy commissioner, Vallone passed away earlier this year on January 27 at the age of 56. His sudden death due to a fatal heart attack at home stunned the community, leaving behind his wife, Anna-Marie, and their three children, Catena, Lea, and Charlie.

Throughout his three terms in office from 2014 to 2021, Vallone championed initiatives aimed at enhancing education and community development within his district. His commitment to public service and passion for improving local parks were hallmarks of his tenure, making the bench dedication at Francis Lewis Park a poignant moment for all in attendance.

The ceremony, organized by the Friends of Francis Lewis Park, celebrated Vallone’s lifelong dedication to public service and his contributions to parks and education in Queens’ District 19.

The dedication ceremony at Francis Lewis Park on June 14 was a poignant tribute to the late Councilman Paul Vallone, celebrating his profound impact on Queens’ District 19 and beyond. Friends, family, and community members gathered to honor Vallone’s legacy of public service, highlighted by his advocacy for education and park improvements.

Among the attendees, Vallone’s friends and family played a central role, sharing memories that underscored his commitment to community and family. The ceremony commenced with a presentation of colors and a stirring rendition of the national anthem by Police Officer Murray, setting a solemn tone for the event.

Pastor Johnson delivered a heartfelt invocation, emphasizing Vallone’s faith and leadership, while Phil Sparacio, Chief of Operations in Queens Parks, reflected on Vallone’s enduring influence and dedication to enhancing public spaces.

“I’d like to welcome everyone to this day, it’s a very special thing that the Friends of Francis Lewis Park have done to commemorate all of what Paul did for the community,” Sparacio said. “He was a true friend of parks, not just Queen’s parks, but in the council, he pursued many other park initiatives that benefit the people in the city of New York. For me, it’s a little bittersweet. The last place I actually spoke with Paul was here in Francis Lewis Park during one of the summer concerts. But he certainly left a legacy.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards delivered a tribute at the bench dedication ceremony for Councilman Paul Vallone at Francis Lewis Park. Amidst a gathering of friends, family, and community members, Richards honored Vallone’s enduring legacy as a dedicated public servant and advocate for Queens.

“First of all, giving honor to God,” Richards began, addressing Vallone’s family and friends present. He praised Vallone’s selfless dedication and remarked on the impact Vallone had left on the community. Reflecting on the park where the ceremony was held, Richards emphasized that Vallone’s efforts were instrumental in its development, noting that Vallone always prioritized what was best for the neighborhood.

Richards fondly recalled Vallone’s character as someone who cared deeply about the community, making decisions not based on political calculations but on genuine concern for the welfare of others. He highlighted Vallone’s initiatives in Veteran Affairs, ensuring housing and services for veterans, and his commitment to improving the lives of residents across Queens.

Expressing gratitude for the commemoration of Vallone with the bench dedication, Richards assured that Vallone’s legacy would endure through future tributes like street renaming and other acknowledgments of his contributions.

“In the future, people will sit at this bench and reflect,” Richards said, concluding with a heartfelt tribute to Vallone’s enduring legacy. “May his legacy live on. He continues to be a blessing. And when time is up, just remember that smile. I love you, Paul.”

Friends and Family Gather to Celebrate Councilman Paul Vallone’s Life at Bench Dedication Event.

Councilwoman Sandra Ung spoke warmly at the bench dedication honoring Councilman Vallone, recalling personal moments that underscored Vallone’s profound impact on her life and the community.

“I have to say those words were so meaningful to me, because it was very contentious, and it was like a difficult moment at that time,” Ung said. “But him giving those words really did a lot to me, and we finished that deal. So, you know, his memory will always live on with me, who he is as a person.”

Ung reflected, recounting how Vallone’s supportive words helped her navigate a difficult legal issue. She shared how Vallone’s reassurance and empathy not only guided her through tough times but also left a lasting impression of his character as a caring and supportive friend.

New York State Senator John Liu delivered a heartfelt tribute at the bench dedication ceremony honoring Councilman Paul Vallone at Francis Lewis Park, acknowledging the profound impact Vallone had on his community and those who knew him.

“It’s hard to see you all out here, but it’s a beautiful day in a lot of different ways,” Liu began, recognizing the bittersweetness of the occasion.

“He still is beloved, and he is sorely missed during so many meetings with him, and now to not have him there, it’s kind of a hole in your heart, which I know is the same feeling that many of you have,” Liu said. “But today is a shiny day, it’s a good day when we take one of the very first steps to remember Paul’s memory, his legacy, with the dedication of this bench. And I know there’s going to be many, many more times for our brother Paul.”

Dorian Mecir, President of the Friends of Francis Lewis Park, spoke passionately at the bench dedication ceremony honoring Councilman Paul Vallone at Francis Lewis Park.

“Today is a bench dedication honoring the life of Council Member Paul Vallone,” Mecir said, highlighting Vallone’s instrumental role in founding and inspiring their grassroots group. “He was the best mentor, supporter that anybody could ever ask for. How fitting that today’s Flag Day, and here we are at the very beautiful veteran memorial that was renovated under his leadership.”

Mecir expressed gratitude for Vallone’s unwavering support and the tremendous turnout of friends and community members who gathered to commemorate Vallone’s contributions. The dedication ceremony, organized by the Friends of Francis Lewis Park, underscored Vallone’s enduring legacy and the profound influence he had on shaping the local park and community initiatives.

“Today, I ask everybody here to be a mentor, to take someone under your wing and show them the way,” Mecir said. “Share your knowledge, lend your wisdom, be a friend, encourage someone to go for it and wear your smile big and live like Paul gave along. We miss you, Paul. We love you. Paul, always.”

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