Woodhaven honors Maria Thomson with street renaming
by Benjamin Fang
Oct 12, 2018 | 2201 views | 0 0 comments | 128 128 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the better part of four decades, Maria Thomson was known as the unofficial mayor of Woodhaven.

Thomson, who passed away in January from a stroke, was involved in nearly every facet of community, civic and business life. She was the executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District (BID), which she founded in 1993, and the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation.

She served on Community Board 9 for 35 years, and spent six years as president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association. She also served five terms leading the 102nd Precinct Community Council.

Her list of accomplishments is long, including getting the Forest Park Carousel landmarked, fighting to keep FDNY Engine 293 open, and advocating to repair and paint over the elevated subway trestle along Jamaica Avenue.

Last Wednesday, elected officials and community leaders honored her life with a street co-naming ceremony at Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway, the corner where her office was for decades.

“If there’s any place she could’ve been honored, this was the place,” said husband Robert Thomson. “She loved this place here.”

October 10 marked the ninth month to the day that the Woodhaven leader passed away, Robert said, so it was the “perfect day” for the unveiling.

“If she were here today, she would be very proud and very happy,” he said.

Thomson was remembered as a passionate and tireless leader for the neighborhood. Councilman Robert Holden, who co-organized the ceremony, called Thomson a “Woodhaven legend.”

“She couldn’t say no, she always got involved,” he said. “She was a wonderful person.”

Borough President Melinda Katz, who met Thomson when she began her career in politics, said Thomson always “held people to task,” especially elected officials. She was a role model for how to treat others and to make sure communities are responded to.

“She will be remembered by this sign for generations to come,” she said.

Other elected officials, including Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilman Eric Ulrich, shared superlatives and stories about Thomson.

They spoke about how she never took “no” for an answer, and how much they looked up to her as a civic leader.

“Hopefully, her life is an inspiration to all of us,” Ulrich said. “To rededicate ourselves to community service and doing things for us.”
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