SUNNYSIDE — A tribute concert and memorial service will be held next month to honor Lou Rispoli, a Queens resident and gay activist who was killed last fall after being attacked while walking near his Sunnyside home.
Friends and family are planning the two events to pay homage to Rispoli, who was well-known in the community and remembered by many as the person who always took care of everyone else.
"We called him 'Mama Lou,'" said Danyal Lawson, Rispoli's husband and partner of more than three decades. "When he was there, you felt that everything was taken care of and everything was safe."
Lawson, a professional pianist and teacher at the Greenwich House Music School in Greenwich Village, will be performing in the memorial concert, to be held May 3 at the school where Rispoli also worked as an administrator for the last year of his life.
"I called him the stage mom," said pianist and longtime friend Sara Davis Buechner, who said Rispoli always worked behind the scenes at concerts, making sure the lights were working right or bringing water to performers.
"He was just a very big part of that school," said Buechner, who will be playing in the show alongside Lawson and violinist Stephanie Chase.
"I thought it would be appropriate to pay him some kind of tribute."
The organizers are also hoping the concert will bring some attention back to the still-unsolved murder.
Rispoli, 62, was attacked by two men on Oct. 20 while walking on 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside, cops said. He was struck on the head with a blunt object, and died from his injuries five days later when his family took him off life support.
The murder shook the local Queens community. City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, a personal friend of Rispoli's, rallied around the case, asking anyone with information to come forward in an effort to track down the perpetrators.
Police released sketches of the suspects in January, but there have been no updates on the case since.
The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau is looking into how officers handled the investigation in its earliest hours, local cops said, based on reports that there was a 36-hour delay between the attack on Rispoli and the arrival of a police crime scene van.
"It's not about revenge," Lawson said, of finding the suspects. "It's more about closure for me."
In addition to the concert, Rispoli's loved ones are planning a large memorial service on May 11 at the Fourth Universalist Society on the Upper West Side. Lawson is expecting a large turn out, since Rispoli made friends wherever he went.
"Everybody is coming from all over," he said. "We call it our family, our huge family."
The six months since Rispoli's death have been an "emotional rollercoaster," Lawson said. The two were together for more than 32 years, having met in 1980 on a New York City subway car.
"We both came from very troubled families, and we made our family together," he said.
The couple officially married in 2011.
Last weekend, Lawson played a solo recital at Greenwich House — his first show since Rispoli's death. He dedicated the performance to his husband.
"You just keep going, but it's hard. It's really hard," he said. "It was the first concert without Lou. He was always there."