Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council last week found a new way to honor a recently deceased woman whose dedication to the beauty of College Point lasted more than 75 years.
The Council voted last Tuesday to rename the intersection of 12th Avenue and College Place at the Poppenhusen Memorial “Betty Pegen Way,” after the beloved volunteer who committed countless hours of her time to caring for and cultivating the gardens at Poppenhusen Monument Park, the municipal parking lot on College Point Boulevard, 14th Avenue and other public gardens and areas throughout the community.
The new designation was one of 70 thoroughfares and public places named or renamed in the bill, which included the College Point change because of the support of outgoing Queens Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside).
Known as the “Gardening Angel” of College Point for many of her 96 years, she tended to the gardens until her death Jan. 29, 2008.
“She was probably one of the brightest examples of volunteerism that I know of. She spent 75 years volunteering in College Point, and she spent 50 years caring for the Poppenhusen Memorial Park,” Avella said. “Every day, for example, she would go out and clean the area around the monument and put in flowers and things, and this was every day for 50 years. It was incredible.”
The Poppenhusen Triangle at College Point Boulevard and College Place already contains a plaque honoring her service, accompanied by a bust of Conrad Poppenhusen, the benefactor of College Point who donated funds to build the Poppenhusen Institute, a vital local cultural institution, in 1868.
The legacy of Pegen, a longtime resident of College Place who was born in 1912, lives on among current residents and community leaders.
“She was an institution in College Point and she was beloved by everybody,” Avella said. “She just was a delight and she helped everyone she came in contact with.”
The Poppenhusen Institute is closed for the holidays and representatives could not be reached for comment.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2010 Community News Group
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