The name of a Department of Sanitation worker who unexpectedly lost his life will never be forgotten after the garage he worked in was named in his honor.
The DSNY Bronx District 4 Garage on 720 E. 132nd Street was renamed the “Nelson Diaz Garage” on Wednesday, April 6 to celebrate the life of former employee Nelson Diaz.
Diaz worked for the DSNY for 23 years before suffering a massive heart attack on August 11, 2008 at the age of 60, while collecting refuse along his garbage route. Diaz soon passed away at Bronx Lebanon Hospital.
Known as a wonderful family man to all of his former co-workers, Diaz’s his wife Ada, whom he was to for 32 years, sons Nelson Jr. and Omar, grandsons Justin and Nelson, and other family members, joined at the Port Morris garage to unveil the new plaque and sign that will boast his name.
The DSNY Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Band opened the ceremony and many DSNY and city officials were also on hand, including DSNY Commissioner John Doherty.
“With this garage named in his honor, Diaz’s contributions to the department and city will never be forgotten,” said Commissioner John Doherty. “A beloved husband, father and grandfather, he was also a 23-year veteran of the department and he performed his daily duties of keeping our beloved city clean and safe with pride and honor.”
Diaz not only was a hard worker for the DSNY, but a proud servant of his country. A heroic Vietnam veteran, Diaz was awarded the prestigious Purple Heart while serving as a tank operator in the First Calvary Division of the United States Army.
Diaz, also called ‘Nelli,’ was very well known by the residents along his route, speaking Spanish and English and greeting everyone he saw.
His wife Ada was invited up to the stage to receive roses from the DSNY, and the rest of the family was invited up as well to reveal the plaque that would later that day be hung inside inside the Bronx District 4 garage.
“Nelson would have been so humbled, but so pleased,” Ada Diaz said. “Words alone cannot express the thanks that I owe to all of our extended family and friends who have stood by us in so many ways with their support through this, especially all of his colleagues and friends at the Bronx District 4 garage, who my husband regarded as his extended family.”
After the ceremony was concluded in the garage, family and friends were brought outdoors, where the larger ‘Nelson Diaz Sanitation Garage District 4 Bronx’ sign was revealed.