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Neighbor to Neighbor: Bittersweet times visit block association group

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There is a lot happening in southeast Queens. The latest from the Federation of Laurelton Block Associations is that Leo Byam has decided to step down from the presidency, with Donald Boncouer taking over the reins. Byam always has been a gentleman and, although we hope he will stay active in the community, we know he has earned a respite from the responsibilities he has had.

Over the years other civic groups have been formed, often with training by FOLBA board member Edgar Grove, only to “go it alone” once their membership had been formed. The location of the FOLBA monthly meetings was changed from the Epiphany Lutheran Church, at 130th Avenue and 128th Street, to 219-03 Merrick Blvd., which is more central. Meetings are scheduled for 8 p.m., the first Thursday of every month.

The new president, Boncouer, is the husband of Verdell Boncouer, who replaced me as secretary/board member of the Local Development Corporation of Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens. If I remember my high school (Andrew Jackson) French correctly, “bon coeur” means “good heart.” What an appropriate name for two people embarking on volunteer careers for our communities.

We certainly wish them the best, and only hope the newly retired Donald Boncouer isn’t too shocked if he finds that volunteer work is at least as challenging and time-consuming as was his professional career. These changes probably were good for all concerned; however, the FOLBA had a grievous loss several weeks ago. That was the death of a very personable, brilliant woman, Joan Davis.

Although I met Joan many years ago at FOLBA meetings, our schedules and interests did not bring us together more often than at that monthly event. Joan was very observant, soft spoken and totally dedicated to the federation’s tutoring program.

When I heard she wasn’t well, I called to inquire about her. Her husband told me she would be returning from the hospital the following day. I had not known she was sick enough to be hospitalized. Within only a few days I heard she was gone.

I called as many people that I knew would have known her through her good works at the federation; she always seemed to be friendly, cooperative and reliable — the type of person who should have received many honors during her lifetime. I wanted to make sure her family would see many people at the memorial service so that they’d know how respected she was.

I was surprised when I was told there would be a memorial service for her at Gilmore’s Funeral Home on Linden Boulevard. There are other, nearer funeral homes that are very nice, but what I didn’t realize was that Joan’s involvements extended beyond our local circle, and her husband apparently had realized that a huge number of people would want to attend to pay their respects.

Mourners were in expanded rooms and halls. Joan was a chemist by profession, and representatives from the company for which she worked spoke of her with great affection and admiration. She was a terrific employee who always was ready to help solve problems, they said. She sorted things out and then stated her case.

If her idea was not immediately accepted, Joan would shout at her adversary until her solution was accepted. Once that happened, she would smile and enjoy the pats on the back she received for being right, which she usually was, we were told.

On the way home with my good friend, Clover Goldson, who had been kind enough to take me with her, I told Clover that I was amazed to hear that “quiet Joan” would shout at anyone. Clover laughed and said she had heard that side of her often at meetings.

“She wanted things to be right, and if that didn’t seem to be happening, she was a little spitfire,” she said. Joan was passionate about her family, religion, work, civic and political affiliations. She will be missed and remembered fondly by all of us. Our condolences go to Mr. Davis and their daughter, Angela.

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