The corner of Clinton Avenue and E. 180th Street will always be a reminder of a man who gave much of his life to seeing the surrounding community thrive.
Thomas Lee Guess was dedicated to building and preserving the Tremont Community Senior Center that is named in his honor at 2070 Clinton Avenue.
He is also remembered as an accomplished liturgical musician and as a community activist who led tenants through a successful campaign to get the apartment building that he lived in on E. 178th Street turned into a cooperative, where he also later served as the co-op board’s first president and manager.
Now the street corner in the community that he cared so much about will bear the name “Thomas Lee Guess Place,” after a ceremony on Friday, April 29 where a sign was unveiled by his widow Barbara Purdy-Guess.
Councilman Joel Rivera, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, former Assemblywoman Gloria Davis and Community Board 6 district manager Ivine Galarza all helped unveil the new sign.
“Mr. Guess put dreams into a reality,”Councilman Rivera said. “Not only did he serve as executive director of the Tremont Senior Center for over 35 years, he was also one of its founding founders.”
A celebration of Guess, who passed away in August 2007, preceded the unveiling of the street sign in the senior center. Councilman Joel Rivera personally scaled part of the pole to remove a piece of the cover on the new street sign that got caught when the cover was being pulled away.
“His dedication was evident through his impassioned work with numerous organizations in the Bronx community as well as within the church,” Rivera stated.
According to Purdy-Guess, her husband was one of the key people who helped secure funding from the Department of Housing Development and Preservation to rent out space on the first floor of 2070 Clinton Avenue for what became the senior center named in his honor.
Guess also co-founded a monthly Artistic Vesper program that featured aspiring community artists, and was a role model to area youth.