Community Board 8 member Bernard Sydnor, a champion of rights for minorities and the disabled, died Monday evening after being hit by an automobile Friday morning.
A former Fresh Meadows resident, Sydnor was 69. He died at the New York Hospital Medical Center in Queens, where he had remained in a coma with broken ribs after he was struck by a car while crossing the intersection of Jewel Avenue and Parsons Boulevard in Fresh Meadows on his motorized wheelchair, police said.
Police said they could not release the name of the person who hit Sydnor, a Korean War veteran who lived just about 100 feet from where he was struck.
Hailed as a major community leader in northeast Queens by fellow members of the community board and the local chapter of the NAACP, for which he served as the vice president, Sydnor, 69, “was somebody you could depend on, even after he lost his legs,” said Ken Cohen, a former member of CB 8 and the president of the Northeast Queens branch of the NAACP.
Sydnor, who lost his legs to diabetes several years ago, frequently fought for the rights of the disabled and supported group homes, which he found to be essential in providing independence for the mentally and physically disabled, Cohen said.
“He fought for housing, civil rights issues and people with disabilities,” Cohen said. “He was very active in seeking business diversity in northeast Queens.”
Friends and family, including Sydnor’s two adult sons, Derek and Vincent, had been at Sydnor’s side since the accident.
“Bernie has a rough exterior, but he would give you the shirt off his back,” Mike Sidell, a CB 8 member, said of his longtime friend.
According to Sidell, Sydnor had blood clots in his brain and “in order to try and save his life, the doctors had to ask permission from his son to remove his spleen.”
Sydnor was born in Washington, D.C. and moved to the Fresh Meadows area in the mid−1980s. Friends said Sydnor, a former Marine, immediately threw himself into the community.
“He had a good heart, and he was an exceptional fighter for the NAACP,” Cohen said.
A member of Local Union No. 3, Sydnor, a former telephone worker, co−produced a public access television show with Cohen. The show, “NAACP Northeast Queens Today,” aired once a month on Channel 34.
“He had great pride in the shows we did,” Cohen said. “He especially was proud of one we did on voter registration and getting out the vote, one on young people becoming leaders in the NAACP, and we did quite a few dealing with Medicare and Medicaid.”
©2008 Community News Group
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