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Jackson Hts. street renamed for activist

Community leaders honor Mary Sarro, a former Jackson Heights district manager, in a co-naming ceremony. Photo courtesy Daniel Dromm
TimesLedger Newspapers

A former community board manager and local activist was honored this weekend when a Jackson Heights street was co-named for her.

Community members gathered Sunday at 34th and 73rd avenues to recognize Mary Sarro for her contributions to Queens.

Sarro served 19 years as the district manager of Community Board 3, which comprises East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and North Corona.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said Sarro’s dedication to the community helped clear the way for the borough’s first lesbian and gay pride parade in 1993.

“Mary Sarro was a beloved member of the Jackson Heights community,” he said. “Few could equal her commitment and love for Community Board 3. She is sorely missed by all.”

Sarro grew up in the West Village and moved with her family to Jackson Heights in 1952. She studied at New York University and later served as a board member before becoming district manager. An early advocate of LGBT rights, she helped persuade 115th Precinct police that the community wanted its first gay pride parade.

Sarro died at the age of 85 last August of cancer.

Among Sarro’s accomplishments are the addition of trees and boulders in Landing Lights Park, one-way streets and the installation of traffic lights at several intersections.

Sarro also worked for the enforcement of livery cab laws, new schools and better relations with the Port Authority and LaGuardia Airport.

After her retirement from the board, she served as sergeant-at-arms for the 115th Precinct Community Council. She was involved in the North Queens Homeowners Civic Association, the United Community Civic Association and the Jackson Heights Beautification Group. She founded the Catherine M. Sheridan Senior Citizen Center and helped establish a Jackson Heights Historic District.

Democratic District Leader Maureen Allen, Sarro’s friend of 35 years, said the community lost a friend and advocate.

“Marry Sarro was a wonderful woman — stubborn, opinionated, sweet and she had a heart of gold,” Allen said. “She was also tough as nails when she needed to be.”

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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