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Hundreds mourn ‘Pooor Freddie’ in Jamaica

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The life of Freddie Dill, a business entrepreneur and community leader known in southeast Queens as “Pooor Freddie,” was celebrated by several hundred friends, family members and community leaders Saturday at the Cathedral of the Allen A.M.E. Church in Jamaica.

Dill died in his sleep Feb. 26 at his home in Westbury, L.I. He was 61. A clogged artery was the cause of his death, said his son, Freddie Dill Jr.

“He was more than a father, he was my best friend, my leader and my role model,” Dill Jr. said Monday. “It is hard to believe he is gone, but he will still be with us because of everything he has taught us.”

Dill’s business career began when he started a landscaping business in Nassau County. His next venture, a towing business based in Jamaica, prompted him to open a tire shop in 1975 called Poor Freddie’s Mudhole for the puddle that often developed outside the Liberty Avenue shop.

Dill moved the store to 128-10 Merrick Blvd. in 1981 and changed the name to Pooor, with three o’s. A fire of unknown cause destroyed the tire store in late November, so the shop now shares space with Pooor Freddie’s Auto Center across the street at 129-01 Merrick Blvd. Both businesses are managed by Freddie Dill, Jr.

A billboard outside the store displays Dill’s trademark slogans: “Pooor Freddie’s. We love to fix flats and if you can’t stop, smile as you go by.”

“That place makes you feel like they wanted you to be there,” said the Rev. Floyd Flake during his eulogy.

In 1988, Dill purchased the soul food restaurant Rib Shack at 157-06 Linden Blvd. in Jamaica, which now offers both take-out and catering.

Dill’s generosity and community involvement was evident every Fourth of July, beginning in the 1980s, when he held a barbecue for about 1,000 people at his home in Jamaica, said Yvonne Reddick, the district manager of Community Board 12.

“They came, they enjoyed the food, and they had a good time,” Reddick said. “He held it in his yard, and it wasn’t just people he knew.”

Both Reddick and City Councilman Archie Spigner (D-St. Albans) commented last week on the number of southeast Queens residents Dill employed through his businesses.

Dill’s death shocked everyone who knew him, particularly because he was a health enthusiast, a vegetarian and very athletic.

“He appeared to be immune to all the common things that take people down,” Spigner said.

Dill also had operated the Feel Better Colonic Center in Westbury, L.I. since 1997.

“He was completely into health,” Dill Jr. said. “Running, jogging, chopping wood, and sports.”

Dill was not only an entrepreneur, but also an active part of the southeast Queens community, serving as the chairman of the board of directors of the Jamaica YMCA, where he chaired the “Uniting for Youth” campaign.

He was a member of the Masons, the Pride of Jamaica Lodge #217, 100 Black Men, and The United Black Men of Queens County, Inc.

At the funeral, Flake described Dill as a “man who always had a message.”

More than 30 large floral bouquets lined the front of the church’s sanctuary, including two separate arrangements that read “Pooor Freddie.”

“He was a positive spirit,” Flake said in his eulogy to Dill. “I’ve never known him to be down. Even after the fire that destroyed his beloved tire shop, the very morning after the fire, he said, ‘Reverend, this is life.’”

As the ceremony ended, the bouquets were loaded into two flower cars as Dill’s family and friends comforted each other outside the church before entering five white limousines to travel to Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale, L.I.

Dill’s first wife, Mildred Mobley Dill, died. He is survived by his ex-wife, Linda Dill, and a companion, Joyce Ochoa.

In addition to his son, Dill is survived by six daughters: Karen Dill Jones of Catonsville, Md.; Bonita Hutchinson of Beaver Falls, Pa.; Diane Dill of Charlotte, N.C.; June Dill Thompson of Rego Park; Shauwana Dill Darby of Jamaica; and Donna Dill of Westbury; and eight grandchildren.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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