Bess Myerson honored in plaque dedication ceremony

(l-r) Fredda Tourin, Officee of Councilman Andrew Cohen, Congressman Eliot Engel, Esther Nelson, Senator Jeff Klein, Councilman Andrew Cohen, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, and Dan Pabernachk, Community Board 8 chairman stand alongside the plague dedicated to the late Bess Myerson.
Photo by Silvio Pacificio

The Bronx’s own Bess Myerson was formally honored during a plaque dedication ceremony held outside of her former Kingsbridge residence.

On Sunday, April 19, elected officials joined local community members, friends and neighbors in honoring and celebrating the legendary Bronxite’s extraordinary life at the Sholem Aleichem Houses.

Myerson was crowned Miss America in 1945, served as New York City’s first commissioner of Consumer Affairs in 1969 and eventually as an adviser to presidents Lydon B. Johnson, Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter before running for the US Senate in 1980.

Last December 14, Myerson, 90, passed away in Santa Monica, CA of undisclosed causes.

Sunday’s dedication ceremony was held at the Sholem Aleichem Houses’ courtyard where Senator Jeff Klein unveiled a Senate resolution commemorating Myerson’s life and work.

Guests gathered to reflect as well as pay tribute to her legacy and leadership.

“Bess Myerson paved the way for countless women in New York and across the country, breaking down barriers and transcending government, politics, and pageantry by serving as not only the first Jewish Miss America, but the city’s first commissioner of Consumer Affairs. Her life was a shining example of what one person can do to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others and she is sorely missed,” Senator Klein said. “Today, we celebrate Bess’ life and work acknowledging the immense contributions she has made to the Bronx and New York City.”

“Bess Myerson was a true trailblazer in everything she did. From humble beginnings in the Bronx, Bess rose to incredible heights and became among other things, a Miss America pageant winner and a political icon. Bess’ life was a true Bronx success story and she is most deserving of this honor and recognition.” Congressman Eliot Engel said.

“Bess Myerson was a trailblazer and leading citizen in our community who grew up in the Sholem Aleichem Houses here in my district,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz revealed. “While she’s perhaps best known for being the first Jewish Miss America, Bess Myerson had a distinguished career in government, serving as a commissioner of the New York City Departments of Consumer Affairs and Cultural Affairs and as an advisor to three presidents. She left a deep impression on many people and her presence is missed. It is an honor to recognize her contributions today,” he added.

Born in 1924, Myerson was raised in the historic Sholem Aleichem Housing Cooperative, a working-class development known for its Jewish roots and extensive population comprised of artists, poets and musicians.

She attended the High School of Music and Art and continued her musical studies at Hunter College where she graduated with honors in 1945.

That same year, Myerson was named the first Jewish Miss America and used her platform to actively combat anti-semitism and speak out against all forms of discrimination and prejudice.

“Bess was a true friend and confidant. Her shining spirit, beauty, talent and intelligence were an inspiration to us all and a constant reminder of how we could do better and make a difference in this world,” Esther Nelson, long-time friend and neighbor of Bess Myerson expressed.

“I am proud to have grown up in the same apartment complex as Bess Myerson and her achievements offer inspiration to all from our community,” Dan Padernacht, Community Board 8 chairman shared.

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