By Bill Parry
Originally published by the Times Ledger on September 23, 2016
The life and legacy of longtime Jackson Heights civic leader Mary Vavruska was celebrated last Saturday with a street co-naming in her honor. The stretch of 34th Avenue between 93rd and 94th streets was christened “Mary Varuska Way” in memory of the former Community Board 3 chairwoman, who died in July 2015 at the age of 83.
“This co-naming commemorates the life of Mary Vavruska, who was a beloved member of the Jackson Heights community,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “Vavruska dedicated so much of her life to improving Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and Corona. As a Council member and fellow community activist, I had the privilege of working closely with her on a number of projects. I was always inspired by her selflessness and determination to get the job done.”
Vavruska served as head of CB3 during a period of tremendous neighborhood change, Dromm said. She was instrumental in the establishment of the 115th Precinct on Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights and the Louis Armstrong middle school on Junction Boulevard.
“Mary Vavruska was a passionate community leader who dedicated her life to Jackson Heights, and whom I was very lucky to know,” Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (East Elmhurst) said. “She loved this community, and naming a portion of 34th Avenue after her is a way for us to not only honor her legacy, but ensure that the mark she left on Jackson Heights is never forgotten.”
In addition to her five decades of service to the community, Vavruska also served as the president of the Brulene Cooperative apartments and advocated for the well-being of the Jackson Heights Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. She received a bachelor’s degree in Economics from NYU and retired from Equitable Life as a vice president of internal auditing.
She was also president of TCE Systems, a family-owned telecommunications company. As chairwoman of CB3 she oversaw the approval of the Delta Terminal and LaGuardia Airport as well as the Marriott Hotel, safeguarding jobs for community residents.
“Mary Vavruska was very active in our community, and a clear proof of that is that her footprints are all over Jackson Heights, from the current location of the 115th Police Precinct to IS 227 and a terminal at LaGuardia Airport,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “With the corner of 93rd Street and 34th Avenue co-named the Mary Vavruska Way, future generations will learn about the legacy she left behind, especially when it comes to fighting for education and social matters.”
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