CLINTON HILL — The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew overflowed with friends, relatives and community members Thursday night for the funeral of Alfred Chiodo, bicycle enthusiast, urban planner, history buff and top aide to Public Advocate-elect Letitia James.
An emotional James delivered the eulogy for her friend and staff member of more than eight years, who was was found hanged in his Crown Heights apartment on Nov. 7, just two days after James' general election win for public advocate.
"I loved Alfred. He wasn’t just a staff member. Alfred was a very good friend, someone I protected but I guess not enough," a tearful James said. "I apologize to the family. I just didn’t have time to check on him with this campaign. I should have checked on him."
"And when we won and he wasn’t around on the general election and we got to the party and he wasn’t there at the party," James added. "And we called the police and there he was."
Chiodo, 57, was born in 1956 in Niagara Falls, N.Y., graduated from SUNY Binghamton with a business degree, and later went on to get a master's in urban planning from Hunter College. In 2005, he started work with James, who was then a 35th District councilwoman, as an intern focusing on development and urban planning issues. He went on to become one of her most trusted staff members.
During Chiodo's funeral Thursday night, photos of his life were displayed on a video screen as Elton John music played in the background. Democratic State Committeeman Chris Owens sang Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” and laughter was common as Chiodo's life was remembered.
Speakers recalled Chiodo's love of biking, his cat Franklin (named after the Franklin Shuttle), his fondness for Ebbets Field, and his love of attending gay pride parades across the city.
James focused on Chiodo's vibrant life, remembering him as a man who loved to dance, wear funky ties and ice skate.
James told a story of an afternoon that she sent Chiodo to investigate neighbors' noise complaints at Fort Greene Park's summer Soul Summit Dance Party — only to find several hours later that he had joined the revelers, topless in the middle of a dance circle, with arms raised in the air to the beat of the music.
Chiodo's friends and family members also remembered how he smoothly navigated around an ice skating rink.
"I promised him I would go ice skating with him and I never found the time in my schedule to go," James said. "But he's ice skating tonight."