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Playground renamed for Joe DeVoy

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The park at the corner of Union Turnpike and 71st Avenue was renamed in the memory of a man who spent more than 35 years dedicating himself to improve the quality of life for all Forest Hills residents.

"I am very proud. It is a happy memorial," said Doris DeVoy, his widow. "I pass by the park regularly because I only live a few blocks away and now I can look up and say hi to Joe. I am very happy, we all are."

DeVoy and his wife moved to Forest Hills in 1960 and soon became very active in the community. DeVoy, who died on Jan. 7, was the first chairman of Community Board 6 and was president of the Central Queens Allied Council, which was a forerunner to the borough's umbrella civic organization.

Some of the more than 50 people who gathered to honor DeVoy and celebrate his tireless efforts to make Queens and Forest Hills a better place to live and raise a family were U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills), Borough President Claire Shulman, state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill), Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Parks Commissioner Henry Stern.

Friends and family said the Forest Hills community benefited from DeVoy's efforts with the opening of the North Forest Park Branch of the Queens Borough Library and the forming of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, where he served as a emergency medical technician for a number of years.

DeVoy's granddaughter Heather said she had a good feeling standing inside in the park named after her grandfather.

"I used to come her with my grandfather when there was one swing and one slide," she said. "I used to beg him to go to another park. Now if I was here with my grandfather, I would enjoy playing here. It is a nice playground."

The Parks Department installed new jungle gyms to replace the old, outdated timber versions, new swings and new fencing around the parks grounds. In addition, the Parks Department will plant more trees to continue the greening of the park and the surrounding area.

"I am very happy with the park," said Chris DeVoy, who played in the park 39 years ago with his father Joseph. "We were not sure it was going to happen. It was a long haul to get to this point. It is a beautiful park."

Shulman, who knew DeVoy for 30 years, met him when he ran CB 6 and she ran CB 11. She said DeVoy was one of the finest people she had known and he always put the community and neighborhood first. Whatever he did, it was for the people who lived in the borough, she said.

Weiner echoed similar sentiments, saying when kids come to the park they will ask who is Joseph DeVoy.

"Their parents will tell them how the Forest Hills community loved and respected him and how he loved and respected this community," he said.

Seminerio said that when he was first elected to the Assembly, the Republican incumbent whom he had defeated invited him to breakfast and told him about this man he needed to meet because he would do anything for the community.

"That was 22 years ago," he said. "One of the greatest things for me in politics was meeting Joe DeVoy."

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