Showing posts with label RIP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RIP. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

RIP Debby Lee Cohen

Photo courtesy of Cafeteria Culture

Longtime East Village resident Debby Lee Cohen, an artist, activist and teacher, died on Sunday, according to Cafeteria Culture, where she served as the executive director. She was 64.

Here's more about Cohen from a message about her passing from Cafeteria Culture, the nonprofit that she started in 2009: 
Debby Lee founded Cafeteria Culture as a concerned parent of public school students. After her younger daughter announced that she didn't want to eat school food anymore because styrofoam trays were "killing the polar bears," Debby Lee started working to eliminate styrofoam from New York City Public School cafeterias. 

Always a uniter but never afraid to push boundaries, Debby Lee advocated with constant pressure on decision-makers to eliminate foam trays in school cafeterias and didn't stop until her mission was accomplished. This grassroots victory eliminated over half a billion plastic foam trays per year from student meals, landfills, and incinerators in New York City and now 18 other cities across the U.S. 

Debby Lee's public school work to drive change forward has a tremendous and lasting impact on our world far beyond the city. Her dream to achieve equitable zero waste has fueled the continued work of Cafeteria Culture and paved the way for New York City's 2019 and New York State's 2022 foam bans. We owe much to Debby Lee's sheer determination to tackle this problem that at the outset, most people thought was impossible to accomplish. 

Debby Lee centered our students throughout these victories. Whether she was teaching them to build giant foam monster puppets or to create their own stop-motion animation projects, she shared her creative gifts to support students in telling their own stories. These principles continue to guide our teaching today to support Cafeteria Culture students as they continue to advocate for environmental justice and possibility. 
Cohen and her family lived at 310 E. 12th and 305 E. 11th St., two buildings bought by a private equity firm in August 2022. Since then, there have been reports of significant rent increases, evictions and alleged apartment warehousing at the buildings. 

"Debby Lee was a life force for our building and the housing justice we were fighting for. That advocacy and passion came from her broader, impactful life's work which included her Cafeteria Culture foundation, and expanded across all levels of environmental justice causes," her friend and neighbor Artie Athas told EVG. "She was my dear neighbor, our dear friend, and a passionate voice across causes that impacted us all." 

Cohen's family plans to hold a celebration of her life sometime next year. 

In lieu of flowers, friends may make a donation to Cafeteria Culture here.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Remembering Tim Lomas

Photo by Stacie Joy 

There's a small memorial on Avenue B near Fourth Street and Fifth Street where East Village resident Tim Lomas lived for over 40 years.

Lomas, an artist, musician, teacher and photographer, died in February 2023. Read more about his life here

Kent Wang and Tim's many friends (aka The Irrational Lovelies) were responsible for the sign... and they vow to maintain it. TY EiLeen Doster.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

RIP Flaco

Photo from November on the LES by @Vinweasel_

Sad news from the Upper West Side last evening.

Flaco, the Eurasian eagle-owl who escaped from New York City's Central Park Zoo and became one of the city's most beloved celebrities as he flew around Manhattan, has died, zoo officials announced Friday. 

A little over one year after he was freed from his cage at the zoo in a criminal act that has yet to be solved, Flaco appears to have collided with an Upper West Side building, the zoo said in a statement. 
Flaco was 13.

This past November, Flaco — the only Eurasian eagle-owl in the wild in North America — spent eight days in the East Village and Lower East Side.

Flaco was first spotted in the East Village on Nov. 6 at the Kenkeleba House Garden off Avenue B and Third Street. He was seen multiple times over the next few days here and on the Lower East Side... inspiring some we've-been-there-too poetry and silly headlines.

And among the many remembrances on X...

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

RIP Merle Ratner

Photo from 2017 by James Maher for EVG 

Merle Ratner, a longtime East Village resident and passionate advocate, died last night. She was 67. 

Police identified Ratner as the victim in the collision on 10th Street and Avenue C. As previously reported, a commercial tow truck struck Ratner as she crossed the east side of 10th Street. A Fourth Street resident, she was said to be going to a friend's house for dinner.

ABC 7 reported that the Collision Investigation Squad questioned the driver and conducted a field sobriety test. He has reportedly not been charged while the investigation continues. 

Ratner grew up in the Bronx and lived in the East Village starting in the 1980s. She was a co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign. She also worked as a labor rights organizer at the International Commission for Labor Rights ... and served on the board at the Laundry Workers Center, which organizes low-wage immigrant laundry and food service workers. 

Here's more from Ratner in an EVG interview with James Maher in 2017: 
My family has a history — my grandmother, when she came from Odessa, was the first woman business agent at the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, and my mother was a member of Local 1707 Day Care Workers. I have a picture in my house of my grandmother; it must have been in the 1920s, with a long skirt with a bustle, the very traditional thing that women wore, holding a picket sign with her friend that said, 'Don’t be a scab.'" 
Ngô Thanh Nhàn talked with The Village Sun about his wife of 40 years. 

"She loved life and was always thinking about ways to build a society that supports people, not profit," he said.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Celebrating the life and spirit of John Crellin, aka 'Architect John'

Photo by Kyle de Vre 
From the book "See You Next Tuesday."
Republished with permission 

Information via the EVG inbox...

John R. Crellin, 75, died peacefully on Nov. 25, 2023.

John spent his childhood in Spencertown, N.Y., and on Queechy Lake in Canaan, N.Y. He earned a history degree from Colgate University (class of 1970) and an architecture degree from Pratt Institute. 

"Architect John" was a devout resident of the East Village. He was on the board of the Howl Festival and enjoyed the local community and culture. He was a regular at Sophie's and enjoyed socializing at The Grafton and St. Dymphna's. 

In earlier years, he delighted in King Tut's Wah Wah Hut at Seventh and A (now Niagara), and he and his wife Wendy (who met at the Wah Wah Hut) were married at Life Cafe at 10th and B. 

Equal parts architect and artist, John was a lifelong creator and inventor. He loved building homemade double-decker motorized rafts ("Queechy Queens”), photographing "memories of old buildings" and cracked pavers, and creating shrines and 3D photographs. John always participated in The Howl Festival's "Art Around the Park," painting murals yearly. 

In his professional career, he practiced architecture with several firms in New York City, including Kohn Pederson Fox, Hardy Holtzman Pfeiffer Associates, and Agrest & Gandelsonas. 

Among his many projects, he contributed to the design of the Melrose Community Center in the Bronx and the renovations of the Plaza Hotel and the Brooklyn Tabernacle. 

John was the beloved father to Madeleine Hoog-Crellin, Juliette Crellin, and Lilly Crellin, and grandfather to Josephine and Caroline Crawford (Mady's girls) ... and, lastly, his bunny Honey Bunny.

A celebration of John's life is planned for Tuesday, Jan. 23, at Sophie's, 507 E. Fifth St. (just east of Avenue A) at 6 p.m.

Memories of John can be shared here

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

RIP Vinie Burrows

Vinie Burrows, an acclaimed actress and activist who lived in the East Village in Village View along First Avenue, died on Dec. 25. She was 99. 

From her obituary:
Burrows began her Broadway career in the 1950s, starring alongside Ossie Davis in "The Wisteria Trees." She continued to perform on Broadway for several years, appearing in such shows as "The Green Pastures," "The Skin of Our Teeth," and "The Blacks." But Burrows became frustrated with the narrow range of roles available to Black women, and she left Broadway to pursue a solo career in one-woman shows. 

Burrows' one-woman Off-Broadway show, "Walk Together Children," was critically acclaimed and continued as an international tour after its initial run. She went on to perform other one-woman shows, including "Sister! Sister!" "Dark Fire" and “The Great White Way: The Story of Rose McClendon." 
In 2020, she was honored with an Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement. Burrows was also an activist who represented the Women's International Democratic Federation at the United Nations.  
As the Amsterdam News reported, Burrows "once noted that her greatest role in life was the one she performed for truth and justice." 

She has been the subject of several tributes in recent days... ... including this piece in The New Yorker titled The Many Lives of Vinie Burrows

Here's a video message from Burrows from April 2020...


Burrows is survived by her son and daughter, six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

RIP Charlie Carroll

Neighbors at 21 First Ave. shared the following information and photos...

Charlie Carroll, a longtime East Village resident, died on Jan. 1. He was 63. 

According to his obituary, he "passed away peacefully at his home, in the care of his devoted sisters Diane Carroll, Lorraine White and Eileen Toler, friend Vicky Berrios, wife Meaddows Ryan, and dedicated hospice workers."

Charlie, the youngest of four, was born in Manhattan to Angie and Charles Carroll II, "and he was a quintessential New Yorker from that day forward."

In 1980, he joined the United States Marine Corps. After serving, he returned to downtown Manhattan, "where he put his mechanical and construction skills to work as a property manager, crew supervisor, and contractor specializing in repair and renovation."

Charlie became a self-employed superintendent for four buildings in the East Village, including where he lived at 21 First Ave. 

He was also passionate about guitars, "researching them, buying them, adapting them, collecting gear for them, puttering with them, and sometimes even playing them." He played in several local bands, including Raw Kinder, Krunch and the Milestones.

You can read more about Charlie's life and passions here.

On Saturday afternoon (Jan. 13) from 1-3, friends and family are coming together to celebrate his life at the Redden Funeral Home, 325 W. 14th St. between Eighth Avenue and Ninth Avenue.
In addition to his wife and sisters, he is survived by his mother, stepson Justin Ciuzio, nephews Raymond White and Michael Aquino, and niece Buffy Aquino Lopez ... "as well as countless other family and friends." 

Friday, December 15, 2023

RIP Phil Klein

Several EVG readers who shop at Whiskers Holistic Pet Care, which has been on Ninth Street at Second Avenue since 1988, shared the following sad news about one of its owners. (H/T Bayou!)

Phil Klein died in his sleep at home on Nov. 24. He was 81. 

According to a memorial post on the shop's Facebook account, Phil suffered a heart attack eight years ago and had not been at Whiskers since then. 

Here's more via the Facebook post...
Of course, he missed going into the store, said his wife and partner of 42 years Randy Klein. "He would go in every day with gusto. Never angry or with frustration."

Phil and Randy Klein are a New York story if ever there was one. Having met 43 years ago at a bus stop in front of the New York Public Library, they were both going to the same stop at 34th Street to Penn Station — one to Flushing and the other to Long Island. That became a ride of love, and they married a year later in 1982. 

You could say that fateful meeting started them off on the same road into a shared future that led to Whiskers Holistic Pet Care. Born from their commitment to trying to save their own dog from cancer and the frustration and anger with traditional recommendations and medicine. 
Phil Klein, a Vietnam veteran, played the drums and loved to ride his motorcycle any chance he got. 

Survivors include Randy Klein, his wife of 42 years and co-founder of Whiskers Holistic Pet Care; his cousin, Betty Edel; and his closest friend, Richie Armento.

Whiskers is asking that people share memories and tributes to Phil on Facebook.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

A memorial for Bill Dean

There's a memorial on Saturday afternoon at 2 for Bill Dean (aka "Sensitive Bill") under the Hare Krishna Tree in the center of Tompkins Square Park. 

Here's more information (thanks to Jimmy the Greek for this)... 

Known to his friends as "Sensitive Bill," Bill Dean passed away on Dec. 10 at age 60. The cause of death has not been determined. 

Dean was an activist with the Yippies in the 1980s, a 13th Street squatter and community gardener, Rainbow Gathering brother, photographer, and avid cyclist. 

In recent years, he had been living on the Upper West Side but often came down to Tompkins Square Park to hang with friends and attend local demonstrations. 

He is survived by an adult daughter in Sweden.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

RIP Ed Burns

Dr. Edward M. Burns, a longtime East Village resident and educator, died on Nov. 3. He was 79. 

Burns was a professor of English at William Paterson University, joining the faculty in 1989. He published widely on Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, James Joyce and Thornton Wilder, among others. 

His work on Gertrude Stein was included in a three-part New Yorker article by Janet Malcolm in the early 2000s. As an editor, his book credits included "Tour of the Darkling Plain: The 'Finnegans Wake' Letters of Thornton Wilder and Adaline Glasheen"; "A Passion for Joyce: The Letters of Hugh Kenner and Adaline Glasheen," "The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder," and "Gertrude Stein on Picasso." 

As The New Yorker put it, Stein became the focus of his life's work. Burns was the expert The Metropolitan Museum of Art consulted for the 2012 exhibition, "The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde." 

He also wrote an essay about Gertrude Stein that was included in the exhibition’s catalog and donated more than 20 archival photos of the paintings in her apartment. 

From his official obituary: "Dr. Burns was an avid supporter of the arts and literature in New York and Paris. Loving uncle, great-uncle, great-great-uncle, friend, and colleague to many. He will be missed by all."

We knew Ed as a regular at the Grassroots Tavern on St. Mark's Place ... when we enjoyed spending far too many late afternoons and early evenings during John Leeper's shifts. 

In one of her New Yorker pieces, Malcolm described Burns as "burly, affable and loquacious." Not sure about burly, but the other descriptions fit the bill.

H/T Steven

Saturday, November 25, 2023

RIP Bob Contant

Bob Contant, co-founder and co-owner of St. Mark's Bookshop, died at his Manhattan home on Nov. 6. Per published reports, he died of cardiac arrest. He was 80. 

According to Shelf Awareness, Contant was born in Rochester, N.Y., and grew up in suburban Washington, D.C. After college, he worked at the Washington Public Library and, after a move to Cambridge, Mass., at two of Harvard's libraries and then at several Harvard Square bookstores.
He came to New York in 1972 and was manager of the old 8th Street Bookshop in Greenwich Village. In 1977, Contant, along with others working at East Side Books — Terry McCoy, Peter Dargis, and Tom Evans — decided to open their own store at 13 St. Mark's Place. St. Mark's Bookshop moved to a larger location, at 12 St. Mark's Place, in 1987 and then in 1993 to a new development by Cooper Union at 31 Third Avenue. 

The store built on its strength in poetry, critical studies, small press literature, and art. But after many years, with a change of board, the school shifted its approach to the bookstore and offered no help when, in the wake of the financial crisis, St. Mark's had trouble paying its $20,000-a-month rent. 
After 38 years at four locations, St. Mark's Bookshop eventually closed for good on Feb. 28, 2016, at a smaller space on 136 E. Third St. between Avenue A and First Avenue.

Adena Siegel, a retired sales representative at Yale University Press, Harvard U Press and MIT Press,  remembered Contant as "a passionate bookseller, principled, enthusiastic, so knowledgeable," per Shelf Awareness.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

RIP Maryanne Byington

Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens (LUNGS) shared the following information about longtime East Village resident Maryanne Byington... 
Maryanne left us Friday, Oct. 13, after a long battle with a pulmonary illness. 
Maryanne was a resident of East Eighth Street since 1982 and an integral part of Green Oasis and Gilbert's Sculpture Garden. She was one of the founders of LUNGS and served as Vice President from 2011 to 2020. 

Maryanne was a trophy-winning professional ballroom dancer. She was Emeritus Dean of High Heels at Miss Vera's Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls, where she offered students expert instruction in the arts of dressing up, making up, going out, and acting like a lady. Maryanne said, " Do you enjoy wearing high heels? Sometimes, the technique of rumba will create just the right walk for the right situation." 

Maryanne loved to dance and dress in Oscar de la Renta's most colorful Latin-influenced festive party gowns. She also loved to sit in her garden, watch children carve pumpkins, and listen to the birds sing. She was partial to shrimp cocktails, grilled cheese sandwiches and chilled Negronis served in a pretty cocktail glass. 

Maryanne's graciousness, sense of humor and beautiful smile are already greatly missed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

RIP Richard 'Pete' Peterson

EVG reader Annie Gosfield shares the sad news about the passing of Richard "Pete" Peterson, "a well-loved neighbor" who lived at 305 E. 12th St. since 1968. He was 83. 

His nephew said that Pete died during a brief stay in the hospital due to heart problems. 

He loved plants and shared his gardening skills with adjacent buildings between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

A memorial for Dennis Edge in Tompkins Square Park

Photos by Steven 

Today, friends of Dennis Edge came together in a place that he loved so much — Tompkins Square Park. 

Edge, an East Village resident since 1970, passed away last Friday after a short illness. 

For years, he documented the birds of Tompkins Square Park, even publishing a book on the subject...
Edge, a graphic designer by trade, picked up birding later in his life.
Throughout the afternoon, people stopped by and left tributes to Edge as well as homemade pieces of art...
We'll have more on Dennis and his life in a follow-up post. 

Multiple readers told me how much he will be missed...

Thursday, August 3, 2023

RIP Miss Kita the Wonder Dog of East 10th Street

Miss Kita the Wonder Dog of East 10th Street (2009-2023) 

Text by Jose Garcia 

The lovely Miss Kita the Wonder Dog of East 10th Street took her earthly leave of us on the night of Aug. 1. While she remained happy and engaged until quite recently, she had been in declining health for several months.

A native of Tennessee, Kita came north as a puppy and somehow made it to Bide-a-Wee Manhattan from which she graduated as a three-and-a-half-year-old stunner with a winning personality to boot. She was clearly well-loved and cared for by her previous owner who had named her Kita — a name she recognized and responded to so we figured it was none of our business to go about changing it to Sugar, which may have been the original plan.

Kita the Wonder Dog of East 10th Street made her EV Grieve debut on March 9, 2012. Over the years she became something of a local celebrity once removed through a combination of grit, good looks and a nose for news. In addition to her coverage in EV Grieve, Kita was named Bide-a-Wee "Pick of the Litter" for January 2012, and had a cameo appearance on the "Second Chances" episode of the Netflix series, "Dogs." 

She was frequently spotted around the neighborhood and seemed to genuinely enjoy meeting her neighbors, graciously accepting ear scritches (and the occasional illicit dog treat) while doling out her own sweet kisses to the lucky few. 

Kita enriched our lives immensely and we were every bit as lucky to have found her as she may have been to have landed with us. 

Thank you for the many kindnesses you showed her and us. 

We will miss her terribly. 

Jose Garcia & Family

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

RIP Big Lee

Leroy "Big Lee" Lloyd, who owned and operated The Hard Swallow on First Avenue, died on Friday. According to an Instagram post from his wife and business partner, Maria "Sasha" Lloyd, he died of hypertensive cardiac arrest. He was 51. 

If you didn't know Big Lee, you likely saw him at some point in the neighborhood. He was 6-3, though he seemed taller with his chunky black boots. As a Vice feature once noted: "Most people were terrified of Big Lee." 

However, he was one of the kindest people you'd meet, with the sincere friendliness of a hospitality veteran. Big Lee was a former doorman/bouncer at Hogs & Heifers and Coney Island High on St. Mark's Place as well as other NYC establishments.

He and Sasha finally realized their dream of opening their own bar in 2015 with Big Lee's at 140 First Ave. between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street. After a lengthy legal battle "with a notorious bar magnate," the Hard Swallow opened in the space in 2018. (Photo below from 2018 by Steven.)
Sasha said that the Hard Swallow "will remain open while we navigate this new reality." 

Big Lee, a Coney Island native, raised two sons, Nicholas and Jacob, with Sasha. 

There's a visitation this Sunday, July 23, from 4-8 p.m. at Provenzano Lanza Funeral Home, 43 Second Ave. between Second Street and Third Street. 

A family friend launched a GoFundMe to help Sasha and her sons manage funeral expenses and other financial challenges after Big Lee's death.

Top photo via Instagram

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Police: Woman dies after jumping from 3rd Street residential building

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy

Law enforcement officials said a 35-year-old woman who lived in Brooklyn died Thursday night after jumping from the roof of an East Third Street building. 

According to the officials, the woman entered 233 E. Third St. between Avenue B and Avenue C before moving across rooftops to where she leaped from 227 E. Third St.
Officials said that this is being treated as a suicide. 

Witnesses said that she survived the fall, landing on a vehicle outside No. 227. Emergency responders rushed her to a hospital, where she died from her injuries. 

It was not immediately known if she knew anyone in the Third Street buildings or why she was in the East Village. Nearby residents said that the woman was not familiar to them.

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit

Friday, June 16, 2023

[Updating] 18-year-old cyclist killed in collision on 1st Avenue at 17th Street

Photos by William Klayer 

See below for updates

An 18-year-old cyclist riding a pedal assist Citi Bike was reportedly struck and killed by an Amazon box truck earlier this afternoon on First Avenue at 17th Street. 

First Avenue was closed to traffic at 14th Street around 12:40 p.m. today.

There isn't much information about the collision at the moment (we'll update when authorities release more substantial details).
The name of the cyclist has not yet been released. Media reports say that the driver stayed at the scene "and no crime was suspected.

From reporter Liam Quigley on Twitter, who was on the scene: "An incredibly upsetting crash this afternoon. A young person came up asking if their friend was dead and started crying. The Amazon driver looked not much older than them. He too was crying, holding his head in his hands."

Updated 6/17 

NBC 4 reports that the cyclist lived nearby.

Another detail from NBC 4: While emergency responders were tending to the victim, someone rode off on the Citi Bike.

Streetsblog has more here, including that the truck, a new all-electric model, did not have any license plates, though there was an expired temp tag on the dashboard.

Updated 3 p.m.

Streetsblog has new information from the police about the collision here

Officials identified the cyclist as Malcolm Livesey, who lived in Stuyvesant Town and attended School of the Future of East 22nd Street.

Updated 6/18

There is a makeshift memorial to Malcolm at the site of the collision...

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Support for the family of Salvino Luis Ceballos

Members of the East Village Community School are mourning the loss of Salvino Luis Ceballos, a second-grader who died suddenly on Saturday at age 7. 

Community members have launched a GoFundMe to help his devastated parents and younger siblings with expenses. Here's more from the campaign: 
Salvino Luis Ceballos, our beautifully wide eyed, sweet, kind, curious, scrappy, energetic, dog loving, Pokemon collecting, bike riding, EVCS second grader and community member passed away tragically Saturday night June 3, 2023. It feels as if we are frozen. There were no warning signs and his sudden loss is completely unconscionable. 

Salvino had the most beautiful way of connecting with anyone he met. When his next-door neighbor told Salvino she didn't have any friends in the building, he knocked on her door shortly after with another adult neighbor and introduced them! His heart was giant. He made everyone laugh, included everyone in on the secret, and let anyone and everyone who crossed his path know how much fun there was to be had, and where to find it... 

Every dollar can help ease the financial burden for Salvino's grieving family, regardless of contribution size. We hope this beautiful family finds a way forward with ongoing family support, continued family therapy, and visits from close family and friends both here and from France. 
You can find the campaign link here.

Image via GoFundMe