Longtime CB 13 leader steps down after 36 years

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There was a changing of the guard at Community Board 13 Monday night, when longtime board chairwoman Susan Noreika stepped down from the post she has held for the past 36 years.

Noreika, who will be 80 in August, decided it was time to pass the baton to a younger crowd and did not put forth her name as a candidate during the board’s leadership elections. Richard Hellenbrecht, a 14-year member of CB 13 who ran unopposed, was chosen to replace Noreika.

“It is now a good time to retire, a time to let the young people burn the midnight oil,” she said as tears welled up in her eyes. “I was going to do it three or four years ago, but my husband talked me out of it because he enjoyed working with me.”

At their monthly meeting at the Queens Reformed Church at 94-79 Springfield Blvd. in Queens Village, board members presented Noreika with a plaque and flowers to honor her commitment to the board and community.

She received a number of standing ovations after the many testimonials by longtime friends and board members. CB 13 also nominated Noreika to become a member emeritus, an honorary position because the borough president is the only person who can appoint a lifetime member.

Community Board 13 covers Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Bellerose, Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, Rosedale and Rochdale Village.

Noreika, whose husband died last summer, said after the past winter she did not feel well. She said she usually “bounces back fast,” but did not, which has left her more fatigued then usual.

Her decision to retire came after talking it over with her son and daughter, both of whom thought it was a good time to let someone else handle the running of the board. In addition, she said she wanted to travel, especially to Florida, where her brother, who died a few years ago, lived.

“I want to visit family,” Noreika said. “I want to take a few trips. I used to love to travel. During World War II, I traveled all over the country to help the war effort.”

She said Hellenbrecht is a good choice to lead the board because he has knowledge of land use and administration, which will help him during his tenure.

“It is really tough to follow Sue,” Hellenbrecht said. “It will be a big pair of shoes to follow. She is so dedicated — I have not seen public paid workers put as much energy into their jobs.”

Hellenbrecht said Noreika’s knowledge of the community and experience will be sorely missed, but he has learned a lot from her throughout the past 15 years. He said she has been a “great friend and confident to him” over the years.

For Hellenbrecht his focus as the new chairman will be to update the board’s computer system and maintain an open dialogue with the community to continue helping the area.

“If there were more people like Sue, our city would be a special place,” said Corey Bearak, a community board member and longtime community activist. “A lot of the good that has taken place in both northeast and southeast Queens Sue has the right to take credit for.”

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said he has been working with Noreika for more than 30 years and she should be very proud of her record and all that she has done to help the community.

“Sue Noreika has served above and beyond what is expected of a good citizen and community volunteer,” said City Councilman Archie Spigner (D-St. Albans).

In addition to Hellenbrecht, Lloyd Hicks was elected first vice chairman, Jonathan Raines was elected second vice chairman, Angela Augugliaro was elected executive secretary and Isa Ali Avery was elected treasurer.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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