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Elizabeth McQueen, Longtime Queensbridge Park Advocate, Dies at 83

 Left: Elizabeth McQueen. Right: McQueen, center, and officials cut the ribbon on the new seawall at Queensbridge Park in 2014.
Left: Elizabeth McQueen. Right: McQueen, center, and officials cut the ribbon on the new seawall at Queensbridge Park in 2014.
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Ray Normandeau/Normandeau Newswire; DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

LONG ISLAND CITY — Elizabeth McQueen, a longtime park advocate and "force of change" in the Queensbridge community, passed away earlier this month at the age of 83, friends and colleagues said.

McQueen was head of the Friends of Queensbridge Park group for more than a decade, where she organized events like concerts and park clean-ups and pushed the city to revitalize and invest in the waterfront green space.

"She was a force of change to make things happen for the better in that park," said Dorothy Lewandowski, Queens borough commissioner for the Parks Department.

McQueen was one of the first people to reach out to her when she started working in Queens 12 years ago, Lewandowski said.

"What amazed me the most was her ability to galvanize people from different generations, different races," she said. "She was just the type of person that just embraced you."

Katie Ellman, head of the waterfront advocacy group Green Shores NYC — of which McQueen was a founding member — said she pushed to get many of the amenities the Queensbridge Park now offers, including its comfort station and barbecues.

"Before Friends of Queensbridge got involved, none of that was there," Ellman said. "It really turned the tide for the park."

In addition to her work at Queensbridge Park, McQueen was a board member at the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement community center, where she organized sewing classes for seniors.

She was a resident of the NYCHA's Queensbridge Houses, where she was "known by everyone," according to neighbor Ray Normandeau.

"She was a great lady. Everyone loved her," he said. "She will be sorely missed."

McQueen died Feb. 14 of natural causes, according to an online fundraising page set up to help cover the costs of her memorial service.

Lewandowski said McQueen's greatest legacy was fighting for the repair of the Queensbridge Park seawall, a rock wall along the river that had been crumbling and fenced off for years, cutting residents off from the waterfront.

McQueen helped cut the ribbon on the newly repaired site in 2014.

"This community never stopped believing that this park should rightfully be restored," she said at a press conference at the time.

A memorial for McQueen will be held Saturday starting at 9:30 a.m. at T.M. Quinn and Sons Funeral Home at 25-30 Broadway in Astoria, with a service planned for 11:30 a.m., according to the funeral home.