As a member of Community Board 4, then its chairwoman and finally its district manager for 18 years, Renda-Rothschild mixed wit, wisdom and no small measure of grit in her ongoing battle against overcrowding, diminishing neighborhood services and eroding quality-of-life.Corona and Elmhurst lost their staunchest defender Monday when Renda-Rothschild died. She was 75."It was a 24-hour-a-day commitment," her son Robert Rothschild said of her neighborhood involvement. "In fact, I would even ask her when she got home from work 'Why did you even come home if you're just going to keep working?"The issues that moved her were the issues that moved her community, said board member Wayne Mahlke. Among her biggest problems were overcrowding in local schools and the overuse of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, said Mahlke, who had known Renda-Rothschild for more than nine years.Over her lengthy career, Renda-Rothschild successfully pressured the city Department of Education to build additional schools in Corona and Elmhurst, where the population grew by more than 15 percent between 1980 and 1990. She also campaigned for more restrictions on the festivals held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park that often sent partyers and picnickers pouring into the neighborhood's streets.Renda-Rothschild was also a proponent of the highly successful expansion of Queens Center Mall, he said."She tried to maintain the community in a way that we would all be proud of," said Community Board 4 member Gerard Rosero, who had known Renda-Rothschild for more than 14 years. "There were so many different problems Corona and Elmhurst faced ... she would always seem to find a solution to some of these problems by bringing in these city agencies." Rosero said Renda-Rothschild believed in accountability from elected officials - and she made that clear to them. And during board meetings, Renda-Rothschild applied a healthy dose of the no-nonsense approach that struck fear into the heart of lackadaisical city officials. "She kept it moving," Mahlke recalled of the district manager, who mixed determination and compassion in equal parts. Renda-Rothschild was, for example, as quick to offer a young reporter a sharp rebuke for a silly question as she was to offer him cake during a pre-holiday meeting."She could be ornery and she could be tough and she was that," Rosero said. "But you know she had to be and that's what made her effective at standing up to ensure that the people of Elmhurst and Corona and the areas that the board covers were properly served."At the time of her death, community members said, Renda-Rothschild was nearing retirement because of ongoing health problems. That she continued working through ailments and double knee replacement in summer 2003 was a testament to her dedication, they said.Renda-Rothschild's list of affiliations and activities included the District 24 school board, several parent-teacher associations and the Woodside-Elmhurst Democratic Club, among others. Renda-Rothschild is survived by her son Robert, who lives in Elmhurst, her daughter Phyllis, who lives in Florida, and two grandchildren.A viewing and wake were to be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Guida Funeral Home, located at the intersection of 48th Avenue and 104th Street in Corona. A funeral mass was scheduled for Saturday at 9:45 a.m. at St. Leo's Church at the same intersection.Renda-Rothschild will be buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Flushing.Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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