For more than half a century, Ann Buehler served as a beacon for local youth seeking refuge from the troublesome life of street gangs. Her legacy was honored on October 8, with the renaming of 30th Road as “Ann Buehler Way” at the intersection of 21st Street in front of the Salah M. Hassanein Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens in Astoria. Buehler died last year, she was 94-years-old.
Members of the Variety Boys and Girls Club, local representatives and the Buehler family were in attendance including Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and his wife Tina Vallone, Variety Boys and Girls Club Board President Emeritus Thomas J. Nowierski and Executive Director Terence Hughes, UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo, SHAREing and CAREing Vice-Presidents Mary Demakos and Carolyn Scarano, Roland Hassanein and Father Juan A. Quevedo-Bosch of Church of the Redeemer.
“Ann was a visionary,” Vallone Sr. said. “To look at a parking lot and see a place of refuge is a prime example of her loving spirit.”
Buehler served as executive director of the Variety Boys and Girls Club, (the first time that a woman held the position), for 30 years and was affiliated with the organization for more than a half century.
“She was a great lady,” Maloney said. “Ann truly was the first lady of Astoria.”
The congressmember flew a flag on September 30 over the Capitol building in Washington D.C. in honor of Buehler, who founded the organization, originally known as the Boys Club, in 1952 to help eliminate an overwhelming gang problem in Western Queens. The club opened its doors officially in 1955.
Since then, the club has successfully offered afterschool and summer youth programs in personal and educational development, citizenship and leadership development, cultural enrichment, health and physical education and social recreation to more than 1,500 boys and girls between the ages of six and 17 annually.
Buehler served as a volunteer for the Red Cross and was the first woman president of the Republican Club of the 25 A.D. and worked as Civil Service Commissioner under Mayors Ed Koch and Abraham Beame. She also received a citation from President Harry Truman for volunteer work during WWII.
Buehler’s children and grandchildren were also present. Emily Buehler spoke about her grandmother moments before the unveiling.
“She was a loving and caring human being,” she said. “This sign will always lead the way to her beloved Boys and Girls Club.”
When all the speeches were concluded, friends and family took hold of a thin piece of rope and, on the count of three, pulled off the white sheath revealing the dedication street sign.
Everyone was invited inside the Boys and Girls Club for refreshments. As visitors walked to the entrance, they admired the mural designed and painted by Sandra Fabara and Roger Smith of Pink Smith Designs on the Anne Buehler Way side of the façade. The mural depicts Buehler, surrounded by founders Vallone Sr., George Skouras, Judge Charles Vallone and Salah M. Hassanein.
“If they put all the children that Ann helped over half a century side by side we wouldn’t be naming a street or boulevard but instead would be naming a highway or interstate,” Nowierski said.