The Van Nest and Morris Park community has suffered a supreme and unexpected loss.
Van Nest Community Association president and former Morris Park Local Development Corporation executive director Ron Kunik passed away unexpectedly on Monday, February 21. Kunik, 59, will be sorely missed. He knew the Van Nest and lower Morris Park communities block by block.
“Ron took over the local development corporation after his sister Georgina Soccodato, and was a longtime fixture attending many meetings including the precinct council, local civic associations and the community board,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “He was often someone that I would turn to in the Van Nest community because he knew what the issues were.”
In 2000, Kunik took over the Morris Park LDC when elected officials asked him to step into the position when his sister, Georgina Soccodatto, passed away suddenly.
Then in 2005, Kunik, who was employed as an electrician and foreman, stepped into the role as president of the Van Nest Community Association.
“He was a very generous man, and didn’t expect a lot of recognition in return,” said VNCA vice-president Zena Twyman.
Kunik was married to his wife Nydia for 31 years, and was also a past president of the P.S. 83 parent association, member of community advisory boards at Montefiore’s Einstein Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center, and a board member of the Morris Park Theater Group.
Kunik also served in the Navy and was part of the Navy reserves into the early 1990s. He is survived by two children, Catherine Kunik, 29, and Christopher, 22.
“He always felt that a community with strong ties is better than a loosely connected one,” his daughter remembered. “He was tough when he had to be, but you could always go to him with whatever problem that you had, and he would use his wide-ranging knowledge to help you.”
Friend Bobby Ciafardini, who taught Kunik’s son at Salesian High School and later worked with the elder Kunik as a reporter, said he was always a great contact in the community to talk to for any news story because he was involved in so many different community functions.
“If you needed a favor or contact person, he was the person to go to because he knew everybody,” Ciafardini said. “He actually helped me get my job at the Bronx Times because he wrote a column for the paper.”
The wake for Kunik will be held at F. Ruggiero and Sons at 726 Morris Park Avenue on Thursday, February 24 and Friday, February 25 from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. His funeral service will be held at St. Clare’s Church at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 26.