2018-01-17 / Front Page

Remembering Woodhaven Community Leader Maria Thomson

The community mourns the passing of Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and Woodhaven Business Improvement District Executive Director Maria Thomson on Wednesday, January 10 of complications following a recent stroke. Thomson had been a community activist for over 40 years, until the very end, starting with her involvement with the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, six years of which she spent as WRBA President. During her time with the WRBA, they have, through the State Liquor Authority, kept a bar that was the scene of two homicides from reopening and reported over 1,000 illegal conversions in the community. Thomson became involved with the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, which evolved from the WRBA. She became the Executive Director of the GWDC 27 years ago. Twenty-two years ago, The Woodhaven Business Improvement District was formed, and Thomson was a founding member.

Among many other achievements, Thomson was a major force in having the Forest Park Carousel landmarked; she served as President of the 102nd Precinct Community Council for five terms; was actively involved in keeping Fire Engine Company 293 open and had previously worked on reopening Fire Engine Company 294; had been a member of Community Board 9 for 29 years; after over 25 years of advocacy by the GWDC and later the WBID, the Jamaica Avenue elevated train line was painted and repaired; rezoning of Woodhaven’s Jamaica Avenue commercial strip and residential areas was approved; every year Thomson and her staff produced the “Wonderful Woodhaven Street Festival,” named the Best Street Fair in Queens, among other holiday street festivals; and she was involved with Jamaica Hospital for the last 25 years.

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) issued the following statement in remembrance of Thomson:

“It is with great sadness that I received the heartbreaking news of the passing of a beloved leader and community anchor. Described by neighbors as the ‘unofficial mayor’ of Woodhaven, Maria touched countless lives.

“Over the last four decades, Maria has given her heart and soul to our community. Whether by serving as a member of Community Board 9 or later, through her leadership of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp., Maria worked to preserve our parks, keep mom-and-pop shops open and beautify our streets.

“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.”

NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. stated, “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. 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.”

To read the Gazette’s Local-Express interview with Maria Thomson dated July 29, 2015, click here:


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