We hear from the Man in the Center
Oct 21, 2020 | 7212 views | 0 0 comments | 884 884 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We re-published this undated photo from our archives last week, sharing some of the information we received from our readers the first time we asked for their help filling in some of the blanks.

Last week, we shared some information about the man standing third from left, who is former councilman and state senator John Sabini.

This week, we promised to share the stories of the other public officials in the photo, but we received two new responses about the men standing on the far left of the photo, one of them from Sabini himself!

The man standing next to Sabini is Thomas Raffaele, who is best known as a justice of Queen Supreme Court, but at the time was attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony as chair of Community Board 3.

We know this, because when we first ran the photo Raffaele’s wife, Ellen, also reached out to us. She just happened to be Sabini’s chief of staff when this photo was taken at an event to celebrate renovations to Travers Park in Jackson Heights.

And standing in front of her husband is her son, Tommy.

Travers Park, located on 34th Avenue between 78th and 79th streets, was dedicated in 1949 and is named for Thomas J. Travers (1897-1958). Here’s some info on him from the Parks Department website:

Travers was a prominent Queens Democrat and Jackson Heights community leader. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War I and returned to New York to marry his childhood sweetheart, Ann Desmond.

They settled in Jackson Heights, where Travers took an active part in the social and political life of the community. He served on many committees for St. Joan of Arc Church, devoted countless hours to the Catholic Youth Organization, and helped to organize the Jackson Heights Sandlot Baseball League.

Travers was an active member of the Jackson Heights Taxpayers Association and the Queens Chamber of Commerce. During World War II, he worked on three War Loans Committees, chaired the Jackson Heights Committee for the New York War Fund, and served as a member of the Registrants Advisory Board.

Travers rose to positions of leadership in the Elks and Lions Clubs. He served as Democratic District Leader for Woodside-Jackson Heights from 1940 until his death in 1958. The park was named for Travers in that year by the City Council.

So while Travers obviously wasn’t there to celebrate the renovations to his namesake park, the family wasn’t without representation. The new piece of information that Sabini shared with us is that the three people standing next to Raffaele are the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Thomas J. Travers!

Thanks to John Sabini for filling in this missing information. We’ll come back to this photo again in the near future.

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