It’s farewell to longtime Wakefield community leader Mary Lauro.
Lauro, 87, passed away on Thursday, June 6 and was laid to rest at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, NY after a funeral mass at St. Frances of Rome Church on Monday, June 10. She had been battling lung cancer.
She was the longtime president of the Wakefield Taxpayers & Civic League and a civic leader for four decades in the north Bronx, involved at one time or another with almost every part of community life.
Congressman Eliot Engel said praised Lauro for her service to the community.
“My wife and I will fondly remember Mary, as she was truly one of a kind,” said Congressman Engel. “I remember her from the beginning of my career, over 40 years ago. She was a constant in the community – it was her whole life, and the community was like her own family. She lived a full life and will be sorely missed.”
The community activist also served as a longtime member of Community Board 12, and was credited by board chairman Father Richard Gorman with reviving the 47th Precinct Community Council after a time of stagnation in the 1990s.
“When she was in her heyday, she had the police department hopping,” said Gorman. “She kept on top of them, going after them on the monthly statistics. She fought with them about personnel issues.”
The precinct council was basically a “dead institution” in the “Wild West” of the 1990s New York, before Lauro revived it, said Gorman, noting that her efforts paved the way for the council’s strong leadership since then.
But public safety was only one of her concerns, which were far-ranging and included group homes, and more recently, homeless shelters. She was also concerned about clean streets, nursing homes and improving the White Plains Road business corridor.
This was all done in the “unforgettable fashion” of Lauro, noted Gorman, that included, as he politely put it, “colorful verbiage.”
Gorman said he will ask the board at its next meeting to request that the City Council rename a stretch of Matilda Avenue where Lauro lived as “Mary Lauro Way.”
Councilman Andy King said Lauro’s passing was a loss for his council district and the community, adding that all were blessed to have benefited from her leadership.
“As president of the Wakefield Taxpayers Association for a quarter of a century, Ms. Lauro was instrumental in working to revitalize and sustain the businesses along the northeast corridor of White Plains Road. Her involvement with the 47th Precinct Community Council helped ensure that our neighborhoods’ safety needs were met.”
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393