By Michael V. Cusenza
Maria Thomson, the indefatigable advocate of her beloved Woodhaven community and the small businesses that are its backbone, died last Wednesday.
“Devastated to hear the passing of Maria Thomson,” said Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven). “She was a champion and fighter for Woodhaven. She will be greatly missed.”
Thomson was the long-time executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and the Woodhaven Business Improvement District. She worked tirelessly for the past 40 years to promote and protect the interests of the mom-and-pop shops along Jamaica Avenue.
“Maria Thomson was the embodiment of community service and was the staunchest advocate for Woodhaven. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to work with Maria know that she had a heart of gold. She was a legend, having dedicated decades of her life to the betterment of the community and the borough,” said City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park). “My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends during this difficult time.”
Thomson also was an active and vocal member of Community Board 9, the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, and the 102nd Precinct Community Council.
“Maria Thomson has been an integral part of this neighborhood for as long as I can remember. If there was a meeting or a rally or an event that involved Woodhaven, you could guarantee that she would be at it,” said Ed Wendell, activist and president of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society.
Tributes to the life and legacy of a leader who, as Ulrich once said, “lives and breathes Woodhaven the way other people do not,” poured into The Forum over the past week.
“Maria Thomson leaves behind a legion of family, friends and supporters who have directly benefited from her efforts in protecting the quality of life in Woodhaven,” wrote State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach). “I was blessed to have worked with Maria for over 25 years and to have called her a friend. She truly has made an everlasting imprint on the community.”
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn and Manhattan) called news of Thomson’s death “heartbreaking.”
“Over the last four decades, Maria has given her heart and soul to our community…working to preserve our parks, keep mom-and-pop shops open and beautify our streets,” Velazquez added. “Neighbors from all walks of life can attest to Maria’s commitment to Woodhaven’s residents. I extend my deepest condolences to Maria’s family, including her beloved husband Robert and all those whose lives she worked to improve.”
By Michael V. Cusenza