2005-04-29 / Obits

Sarah Colson Arverne Activist

  • Sarah Colson, a community activist from Arverne who battled cancer, died April 26. She was 62.
  • Colson was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina on September 9, 1942. A native of Wingate, N.C., she attended a segregated school system.

    After migrating to Camden, New Jersey in an unsuccessful search for employment, she moved to Hollis, New York, where she was convinced that the plight of the Negro was the same there as it was in N.C., however, the racial discrimination was subtle.

    Colson then decided that the only way to level the playing field was for her to continue her education and she enrolled in college and earned her bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College.

    She was employed at the New York City Human Resources Administration for 29 years. She retired as an Associate Staff Analyst in the Payroll Department.

    Since 1968, Colson was an advocate for parents and children in the New York City public school system, which demanded educational excellence for all children. She founded Youth on a Positive Mission to encourage peer counseling, community involvement with voter pullouts and college tours. All college tours were through self-help efforts.

    She was the cofounder of People United for Local Leadership Inc., which fosters awareness on the issue of political education for the Rockaway Community. Colson was influential in starting a number of organizations, including the Reverend Mason Center.

    In October of 1999, as a member of the Bertha Greshan Missionary Society of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Arverne, Colson started the Arverne Cancer Support Group. The organization promotes monthly cancer awareness in the Far Rockaway community. A.C.S.G. provides financial and family support to anyone undergoing cancer treatment. The support group aggressively advocates for legislation for the under-insured to obtain medical screening for early detection of cancer.

    Saddened by her passing, David Golub of the American Cancer Society released the following statement:

    “On behalf of the American Cancer Society, our volunteers and staff, we are deeply saddened by the passing of Sarah Colson. Sarah was a vibrant and active member of the community, and a volunteer with the American Cancer Society for many years. A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, something Sarah knew firsthand. But rather than give up, she became the president of the Arverne Cancer Support Group and a participant in the Far Rockaway Relay for Life. Sarah gave tirelessly to educate her neighbors about cancer. Her annual Celebration of Life dinner showed her zest for life and her willingness to give back to the community. Sarah lost her battle with cancer, but her passion continues to inspire us in our fight against cancer. Our thoughts and prayers and with Sarah’s family.”

    Colson’s Patron Saint is Fannie Lou Hamer, who instilled in her the belief in becoming actively involved for social change. She has received many citations, plaques from community groups, and elected officials. Her greatest reward, she would say, was when employment was gained from her networking efforts for others or when educational needs were addressed for students that are denied an opportunity for better education. She also felt rewarded when community youth would proudly attribute their degree or profession to her continuous encouragement.

    Colson was a believer in strong family ties that, she said, must include the elders to pass on family history.

    Colson was the mother of two daughters, Lorraine Colson, who preceded her in death, and Mbahlia Colson; grandmother of four, Tiffany, Christine, Terrence and Paul; great grandmother of Abigail. She is also survived by five sisters and five brothers, Willie B. of N.C., Richard T. of Georgia, Emma of Maryland, Adolphus of North Carolina, Dorothy Jackson of N.C., Bettie and Donnie of Washington, D.C., Lonnie of Virginia, Janette Lockhart and Douglas of N.C. Colson is additionally survived by other family members and friends.

    Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Jeremiah C. Gaffney’s Funeral Home. Services will be held at Haven Ministries.

    Richard Bray

    NYC Transit Authority Clerk

    Richard Bray, a Rockaway resident for 20 years coming from Brooklyn, died on April 23.

    Bray, who was born in New York, New York, was a clerk for the New York City Transit Authority.

    He is survived by his brothers, James and George Bray; sister, Denise Cosgrove; and his nieces and nephews.

    Funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Denis S. O’Connor Funeral Home. A Mass was celebrated at St. Francis de Sales. Interment will be at Calverton National Cemetery.

    Mary Louise Brown


    Mary Louise Brown, a Far Rockaway resident for more than 35 years, died April 21.

    Brown was born in Suffolk, Virginia on April 2, 1923. She was a member of the Gethsemane Church of God in Christ in Inwood and a longtime supporter of the Feed the Children charity. She was a housekeeper.

    Brown was preceded in death by her parents, Rossie and Annie Nickelson; and her husband, Ernest Brown.

    She is survived by her daughter, Ruth Poprilo.

    Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Jeremiah C. Gaffney’s Funeral Home. Visitation and services were held at Gethsemane Chruch of God in Christ. Interment was at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale.

    Susan Mary Flynn

    Bank VP, LPN

    Susan Mary Flynn, a Breezy Point summer resident for nearly 20 years and a Rockaway Park resident for nearly 10, died on April 17. She was 53.

    Flynn, who was born in New York, New York on October 31, 1951, was an assistant vice president for Bank Hapoalim and then a Licensed Practical Nurse at St. Benedictine Hospital in Kingston, N.Y. She was a parishioner at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Kingston.

    She is survived by her sons, Christopher John Flynn, Bryan James Flynn; and sister, Kathryn McGuire.

    Interment was at Wiltwick Cemetery in Kingston. Other arrangements were kept private.

    Donations may be made to St. Simon’s Sitdown Soup Kitchen at Holy Cross Episcopal Church, 30 Pine Grove Avenue, Kingston, N.Y., 12401.

    Matthew M. Hayes

    Local Bartender

    Matthew M. Hayes, a lifelong area resident, died April 21. He was 72.

    Hayes served in the United States Army and was stationed in Germany from 1953-1955. He tended bar at several local pubs. Hayes was a Roy Reuther Housing resident and a member of the Knights of Columbus.

    He was preceded in death by his parents, Eugene and Mary (nee Crowley) Hayes.

    Hayes is survived by his sister, Mary McKenna of Azusa, California, and many nieces and nephews.

    Funeral arrangements were entrusted to St. Mary Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church in Far Rockaway. Interment was at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton, Long Island.

    Mark I. Hannon

    Construction Worker

    Mark I. Hannon, an Irish born construction worker and resident of Rockaway Park for the last 20 years, died on April 27.

    Hannon is survived by his sisters, Anita Campbell, Mary Brett and Theresa Monaco.

    Funeral arrangements entrusted to Denis S. O’Connor Funeral Home.

    Robert Patrick Hannon

    Raised In Broad Channel

    Robert Patrick Hannon, who was raised in Broad Channel and educated at the St. Virgilius School, died on April 22 in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was 77 years old.

    Hannon was born in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on March 15, 1928. He moved to St. Petersburg in 1951 and resided there until his death.

    Hannon was preceded in death by his father, Charles Hannon, and his mother, Catherine Hannon (nee Cassidy).

    A memorial service will be held in St. Petersburg on Saturday, April 30.

    Margaret McDermott

    St. Francis de Sales

    Choir Member

    Margaret McDermott, a Rockaway resident for more than 20 years, died April 25.

    Born in County Leitrim, Ireland, McDermott lived in Rosedale, Queens before moving to Rockaway. She was active in the St. Francis de Sales Church Choir and the Sea Breeze Golden Age Club. She was a homemaker.

    McDermott was preceded in death by her husband, Frank; brothers, John and James Gallagher; and sisters, Mamie Scanlon and Kathleen Kelly.

    She is survived by her son, Frank McDermott (Janet); daughter, Mary Carroll (Joe); and grandchildren, Brian, Sarah, Rebecca, Hannah and Cailen.

    Funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Denis S. O’Connor Funeral Home with a Mass at St. Francis de Sales Church. Interment was at Long Island National Cemetery in Pinelawn, Long Island.

    Kenneth M. Miley

    Retired Corrections Officer

    Kenneth M. Miley, a retired corrections officer, died April 24.

    Miley, originally from the Bronx, resided in Rockaway for the last 50 years of his life.

    He is survived by his wife, Marilyn Hendrick Miley; son, Kenneth M. Miley Jr.; daughters, Colleen Miley, Christine Gallagher and Donna Miley; and brothers, Bobby, Billy, Chris, Michael and Tommy Miley.

    Funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Denis S. O’Connor Funeral Home. A funeral Mass was held at St. Camillus Church with internment at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.

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