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Claire Shulman, First Woman to Serve as Queens Borough President, Passes Away at 94

Claire Shulman passed away Sunday at the age of 94 (Photo: MTA)

Aug. 17, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, the first woman to hold the position, died Sunday at the age of 94.

Shulman, who served as borough president from 1986 to 2002, had long suffered from lung and pancreatic cancer. She died in her home Sunday surrounded by her children and family, according to AMNY.

Queens officials from across the borough mourned her death and celebrated her life.

“Claire Shulman was larger-than-life,” Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee said. “She did not waste time, and lived every single minute fully and with purpose. In a borough known for its trailblazers, few have led a life of dedicated public service as robust and as effective as Claire Shulman.”

Lee will host a special tribute to Shulman’s life and legacy in the coming days.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, who most recently served as borough president before being elected to her current role, said she was extremely saddened to hear of Shulman’s death.

“I had the pleasure of working for Claire when she was the Queens Borough President…,” Katz said. “A fierce leader who dedicated her life to bettering the lives of all Queens residents and paved the way for women leaders in the borough.”

Shulman was the first of many woman to be borough president. She was succeeded by Helen Marshall, who died in 2017. Katz and Lee have since followed.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng also honored Shulman’s memory.

“I am devastated about the passing of Claire Shulman,” Meng said. “A great friend, mentor, and role model, she was an incredible woman and a political icon who during her time as Borough President was the embodiment of Queens.”

“Claire believed strongly in empowering women and pushing for more women in leadership positions, particularly in public service, way before it was popular to do so,” Meng added. “She always believed in me, encouraged me, and set high standards that I strove to achieve.”

Meng said she spoke to Shulman recently and the former borough president thanked her for her work in Washington and she she was proud of her.

“There is no way to describe how much that meant to me. I am so proud and fortunate to have known her, and I will always hold on to those words,” Meng said.

In October, Shulman had endorsed Council Member Donovan Richards for Queens Borough President. When he won the Democratic nomination for the position, she was his first call, he said.

“I lost a good friend last night. Queens lost a true gem last night,” Richards tweeted. “Claire Shulman was one of a kind. Her commitment to building institutions and fostering opportunities for people from all walks of life in Queens can’t be overstated.”

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Larry Penner

Queens Boro President Claire Schulman could work across the isle with Republican Mayor Rudy Guiliani and several local Republican NYC Council members on a regular bipartisan basis harkening back to an age of collegiality no longer seen today. Schulman like New York’s late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan stood head and shoulders above today’s generation of ultra partisan Democrats. She was from an era that included more moderate independent Democrats as opposed to today’s politically correct “my way or the highway” extreme liberal Democrats who have no tolerance for views other than their own.

In our era of highly partisan politics, how disappointing that members from different parties and ideological commitments seldom can come together on behalf of all citizens. Schulman was a role model others should be emulating. She will be missed by all

Larry Penner

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