Neighborhood patriarch honored with street co-naming celebration southeast Queens
Alex Pauline, considered a father figure by many in southeast Queens, will forever be memorialized at the corner of 173rd Street and 134th Road, where new signage reads “Alex Pauline Road”.
The life of Pauline, who died in November 2019, was celebrated just around the corner from where he called home in Rochdale Village, having grown up in “Circle 4” and playing basketball in South Rochdale Playground.
Remembered as a husband, father, coach, mentor and a teacher, Pauline’s family and friends paid homage to the man whose tough love and guidance helped raise a neighborhood.
“When God gives you a calling, you have to follow it,” his wife, Dolores Joseph-Pauline, said at the street co-naming event on Saturday, June 18. “I knew I had to share him with the world.”
Also known as “Coach Al,” Pauline gave back to his community in the form of teaching, working as a custodian and also serving as a basketball coach at PS80Q, his former elementary school.
A graduate of Springfield Gardens High School, he would find his love for basketball and coaching before meeting his wife at their alma mater York College.
On the day before Father’s Day, his son, Aleek, helped unveil the new sign before hosting a free basketball clinic at South Rochdale Playground in his father’s honor.
“Me and my family are truly blessed to have had Alex Joseph-Pauline as our king,” Aleek said.
The father of three also worked as a direct care counselor for the mentally challenged on the weekends, when he wasn’t busy being a public school teacher and a basketball coach during the week.
In 1988, he founded “Drug Free That’s Me,” a nonprofit that used basketball as a way to teach the youth about the negative effects of alcohol and drug use, as well as countless other life lessons taught along the way.
The nonprofit had participants including Shaheen Holloway, the head coach of Seton Hall University, and former NBA player Lamar Odom. Pauline also helped coach professional athletes including WNBA player Tina Charles, NBA players Danny Green, Kenny Patterson, Sundiata Gaines, and future NFL pro Kevin Ogletree.
Aleek would also be coached to a basketball career at Norfolk State University, as well as a career overseas in Europe.
In the program’s basketball tournaments, Pauline would use halftime to preach and teach about the dangers of drug abuse and crime, while offering an alternative from those very same vices.
Brian Corbett, a Rochdale native, was on hand to celebrate the life of Pauline, who he says served as a role model for himself and others while growing up in southeast Queens.
“He taught us about responsibilities and how we were looked at at the time by police as young Black cats and how to conduct ourselves,” Corbett recalled. “He kept a swear jar for when we were playing basketball. If you said a cuss, you would add to the collection and he would use it to buy shirts. He was an exemplary human being.”
Led by a performance by the Elite Marching Band of Queens, the street co-naming ceremony included remarks from Council Speaker and Rochdale native Adrienne Adams.
“What makes this community so special is the everyday people who live here and care so deeply about their neighbors, especially our seniors and our young people,” Adams said. “Rochdale village residents look out for one another and support each other in every way they can.”
She continued, “One such unsung hero was Alex Pauline, who grew up in circle four and basically called Rochdale Village Hall all of his life. He served as a positive role model and father figure for children in the neighborhood and his students at PS 80.”
State Senator Leroy Comrie urged the community to “pay it forward,” in honor of Pauline.
“We have other young people in our community that need your guiding hand, that need to see you,” Comrie said. “They see your actions and they see your deeds already. Just pay it forward to them to let them know that they’re loved because we need to continue to pay it forward and nurture our young people, and to continue to provide opportunities in the spirit of Alex Pauline.”
A celebratory walk to the nearby basketball courts along the newly co-named street served as a walk down memory lane for family members and friends of Pauline.
“On a daily basis, he and I couldn’t walk from our building to the store or to our car, without him running into a young person, a parent or a colleague,” said Pauline’s wife, Dolores. “I’m glad they chose this time to recognize him.”