Brooklyn DA honors family of frontline workers

The Conolly Family, L-R: James, Thalia, Emelia and Taryn, with retired Congressmember Edolphus “Ed” Towns.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Brooklyn’s top prosecutor on Sunday honored a local family whose members are all frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19.

District Attorney Eric Gonzalez dolled out awards to members of the family of Brooklyn resident James Conolly, a Cayman Islands-born Vietnam War veteran and retired deputy commissioner in the Michael Bloomberg administration in New York City. Connolly’ wife and children received awards during a special ceremony in Valley Stream, Long Island on Aug. 29.

Former Brooklyn Democratic Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns and Joel Browne, of Local 1180 union, presented the awards on behalf of Gonzalez to Conolly’s wife, Emilia — a recently retired nurse who spent 40 years working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Brookdale University Hospital — their two daughters, Thalia Conolly and Taryn Conolly-Ashby — a police officer and educator, respectively — and Taryn’s husband, NYPD Lieutenant Detective Adrian Ashby.

“On behalf of residents of Brooklyn, I hereby recognize and honor your exemplary work and outstanding service in our diverse borough,” said Gonzalez in the citation to Thalia, who currently works as a forensic firearms specialist in Jamaica, Queens.

“Your unwavering commitment to ensuring that all residents are afforded equal opportunity and enhancing the quality of life in our community serves as an inspiration to all of us,” he added. “During a time of immense hardship, your service brought much-needed relief to our community.

“As Kings County District Attorney, I thank you for your tireless devotion,” Gonzalez continued.

Almost identical words were inscribed in the citations for the other honorees.

“I’m proud to represent the nursing profession,” Emilia, a Honduran native, told Brooklyn Paper’s sister publication Caribbean Life after the presentation. “I’m honored and thankful.”

Educator Taryn Conolly-Ashby with husband, NYPD Lt. Det. Adrian Ashby.Photo by Nelson A. King

Ashby, the Barbadian-born commanding officer of the Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad based in Rosedale, Queens, noted that several of his colleagues had “to step up” during the pandemic, giving special thanks to Gonzalez for the honor.

Conolly, a former district leader for the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn and executive director for the Alternative Sentencing Unit under late Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hinds, expressed gratitude to Gonzalez for honoring his family.

“I appreciate the DA for recognizing those on the front line,” he said. “He’s proven to be one of the best DAs we’ve had.

“What I find about him is that he’s very interested in the community – real humble and down-to-earth,” added Conolly, who also served as executive director of the Work Experience Program (WEP) under former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Towns, who once represented what is now the 8th Congressional District currently served by Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, lauded the Conolly family for community service.

“This is a precious family,” he said. “They’ve done such good things for the community. When you stop and look at what they’ve achieved, I wish others will think about their fine example.”

A version of this story first appeared on Caribbean Life News.