QUEENS — Josephine Bebirian, who co-founded the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps in 1971 and later worked as a CPR instructor for the group, has died. She was 93.
Bebirian died on Jan. 13, according to her friends who remembered her as a “lovely and community–oriented woman."
“She was always ready to help and worked tirelessly for the people of Forest Hills,” said Robert Castioni, 61, a volunteer for the group who had known Bebirian since joining the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps in 1974.
The group was founded in 1971, after a Forest Hills man died while waiting over 2 hours for an ambulance, according to the organization's president Alan Wolfe.
Bebirian and several other residents concerned that the city-operated ambulance service was not sufficient, got together with local elected officials to organize a volunteer ambulance corps to serve the community in Forest Hills, and later in Rego Park as well, Wolfe said.
At that time, the group’s headquarters was located at 102-23 Metropolitan Ave., in the storefront of the local Democratic Club, before moving to its current location at 92-29 Metropolitan Ave. in 1989, according to the group's website.
(Photo Courtesy of The Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps)
Friends said Bebirian was a CPR instructor for the group, which is currently made up of roughly 40 volunteers who help about 500 patients every year, the group said.
Bebirian was also involved in organizing blood drives and served on the organization's board for many years, her friends said.
"She was the longest living member up until now," said Wolfe, who called Bebirian "the voice of the community.”
She was also active in other local organizations, including the Forest Hills Civic Association.
In 2012, she received a proclamation from the City Council honoring her for 40 years of service to the corps and the Forest Hills neighborhood, according to published reports.
She only stopped participating in the group's activities and events several years ago as her health began to deteriorate, friends said.
Beberian will be remembered on Thursday at Fox Funeral Home at 9807 Ascan Ave. from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
The funeral Mass will take place on Friday, at Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church at 70-01 Kessel St. at 9:45 a.m. She will be buried at Calverton National Cemetery in Long Island.
Her family requested that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in her memory to the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, according to the group.