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Uptown Housing Advocate Patricia McCullough Dies

By Nigel Chiwaya | October 11, 2013 9:50am
  Inwood staple Patricia McCullough, dubbed a slum landlord's "worst nightmare," passed away on Oct. 7.
Inwood Icon Pat McCullough Has Died
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INWOOD — Inwood residents are honoring the memory of a local icon for her decades of work to support safe housing.

Patricia "Pat" McCullough, whose dedication to area tenants and penchant for hounding negligent owners earned her the nickname of a "landlord's worst nightmare," passed away Oct. 7 at the age of 84.

McCullough had been suffering from complications from a July fall down an Atlantic City escalator, relatives said.

McCullough, who was buried Friday after funeral services at Good Shepherd Church, spent 40 years fighting to improve Uptown neighborhoods. She worked first with Catholic Charities and then for former state Assemblyman and state Supreme Court Justice Edward Lehner, former state Assemblyman Brian Murtaugh, former City Councilman Stanley Michaels and current Councilman Robert Jackson.

McCullough's signature legacy might be her work with the tenants of 452 Fort Washington Ave., for whom she went to court more than 50 times between 2009 and 2010 after their landlord, Dorothea Levine, ripped out walls and bathrooms in the building without replacing them.

Control of the building was eventually wrested from Levine and given to a public administrator.

Since her death, McCullough's family said Uptown residents have been offering gratitude mixed with condolences.

"What strikes me the most is the impact on so many people that she's had," said McCullough's son, Jimmy, 61.

"Almost everyone that comes has a story about how my mother helped them," he said. "It's unbelievable that she touched so many lives."

In McCullough's memory, members of the Rotary Club of Inwood, Manhattan placed a wreath on a section of Inwood Hill Park called "Pat's Lawn," named in honor of McCullough by the Parks Department and Jackson last October.

"She was a good human being," said James Kushner, who knew McCullough for more than 30 years and co-founded the Rotary Club with her in 2006.

"She always tried to do the right thing by anybody. Anyone that she could be of assistance to, she went out of her way to do it."

In a statement Thursday, Jackson lauded McCullough's career.

"If there was something that could be done, Pat would find a way to do it," Jackson said.

"As a tenant organizer and staff rep for multiple elected officials, she knocked on thousands of doors — never knowing what deplorable conditions she would find on the other side."

The councilman added, "It may be obvious, but Pat’s professional contributions were possible only because of her extraordinary personality. That is what we will miss above all — a woman full of life, with a sly sense of humor and a radiant smile."

McCullough is survived by her husband Edward, her sons Jimmy and Ed and her daughters Maureen and Patricia.