‘She’s One of God’s Angels Now’
'She's One of God's Angels Now'
Leaders And Residents Honor The Legacy of Pauline Rhodd-Cummings
By Gary G. Toms
On Sunday, February 2, community leaders and residents gathered at the Community Church of the Nazarene, in Far Rockaway, for a memorial service held in honor of Pauline Rhodd-Cummings. Some of those who attended the tribute included Cummings' successor, Assemblywoman Michele Titus, former City Council member Juanita Watkins, Curtis Archer, Executive Director of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC), Barbara Smith (President, Deerfield Area Association), and Zandra Myers (of the Addabbo Family Health Center).
The event was filled with both prayer and song, and many colleagues and friends of the late Assemblywoman took to the podium to reflect on her life.
"We come together today to celebrate a life; the life of a great woman and a great leader.... Pauline Rhodd-Cummings," said Reverend Henrietta Fullard.
"Pauline was a woman who brought so much to this community, and she did so with a certain shyness and quietness that she became well-known for. She was a woman of remarkable courage."
Juanita Watkins described Cummings has a "reluctant leader" who always worked to better the community and help people in need.
"When she was asked to run for office, I recall her saying, 'What? Me run for office? You must be joking!' I assured her that I was not, and she soon found, and accepted, a role as a leader in this community," stated Watkins.
"She never saw herself as being different from anyone else, and in her I saw an enormous sense of vision, courage, and strength even when she was ailing. Pauline was my friend, and like so many of you, I miss her. I thank God for allowing her to be in my life."
Assemblywoman Michele Titus remembered her predecessor as a woman who fought hard for the Rockaway community and many of the projects she was developing.
"I don't think she was ever given enough credit for what she did, and tried to do, here in the Rockaway community," said Titus.
"She was a true fighter, and I will continue the fight in order to have many of her dreams finalized. Pauline was an exceptional woman, and I thank you for accepting me and allowing me to be your representative in the 31st District."
The most poignant moment of the event featured the announcement of a scholarship award in memory of the late Assemblywoman. Randine Williams, a local high school student, was the very first recipient of this year's award. Williams told the group about her initial meeting with Cummings.
"She seemed to be as taken with me as I was with her. She was so interested in what was going on in my life and what I wanted to do in the future," stated Williams.
"Pauline helped push me to be the best that I can be, and this award means so much to me. I would like to thank everyone for coming out to support me."
Reverend Fullard closed the memorial service with a prayer for unity in the Far Rockaway community. She also issued a plea for residents and community figures to embrace leadership roles.
"If Pauline's life taught us anything, it was that we have to lift each other up in this community. That is what she would want us to do, and that is what we must strive for."
Cummings, who served as the Assemblyperson for District 31 for nearly six years, succumbed to cancer in January of 2002.