The Canarsie Hall of Fame is inducting six upstanding figures of the neighborhood’s past and present as part of its newest class of members.
The six Canarsians are individuals, nominated by community members, who have worked to make the neighborhood better, often volunteering their time to do so.
The Hall, an online project of local history buff Ramon Martinez, is a continuation of the former Canarsie History Museum, which used to have a physical space at the American Legion Hall at East 92nd St and Conklin Avenue. Martinez would also bring traveling exhibits to schools and other locations in the neighborhood, but low visitation forced the museum to depart its physical space and transition online in 2016.
“We celebrate the people who made Canarsie what it was: the contributors, the people who genuinely care for the community,” Martinez told Brooklyn Paper.
Inductees this year include:
James Devens was the first police officer in Canarsie to die in the line of duty, according to Martinez. He died in 1904 at the age of 31 while serving with the NYPD; before the city’s 1898 consolidation, Devens had worked for the Brooklyn City Police Department.
Daniel Fullerton was a funeral director whose parlor was located at Flatlands Ave and Rockaway Parkway from the 1880s until the 1960s; after his death, the Fullerton family moved the business to Long Island, where it remains to this day. Fullerton was known for his charity, often providing for grieving families too poor to afford a full funeral by donating caskets.
Fullerton was also civically active, being involved in efforts to place a Civil War memorial at Canarsie Cemetery and in ridding the area of a sewage disposal facility.
Richard Glander, originally from Wisconsin, had a farm in Canarsie where he raised circus animals. Initially part of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, he eventually branched out on his own and created his own act, with animal companions including dogs, monkeys, and even bears. He was also known for his philanthropic disposition, entertaining kids at local schools for free and allowing them to come to his farm to see the animals.
The only recipient this year who is still alive, Steven Kaye was a science teacher at James Madison High School for over 30 years. He is passionate about his students, whom he would often help enter the Intel Science Fair. He also has long been active in the community: he served as president of the South Canarsie Civic Association, where his advocacy helped prevent the placement of a sewage treatment plant in the neighborhood. He was a recipient of the New York Post’s Liberty Medal back in 2007.
Kaye will receive from Martinez the “Canarsie Cup,” an award bestowed upon still-living Hall of Famers; past recipients include former Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio.
A Civil War veteran, Richard Ryder sought to keep records of every Canarsian who fought for the Union in the war, including their name, company, what state they were fighting in, and whether they passed away or made it home. He compiled his research into a book, “The Village Color-Bearer,” in 1891.
Back in Brooklyn, Ryder patrolled the waters off Manhattan Beach as part of a Coast Guard progenitor outfit, helping those stranded asea in boats or otherwise.
Henry Butecke was a volunteer firefighter in Canarsie and surrounding neighborhoods with the Flatlands Volunteer Association for decades, back when volunteer fire companies were far more common. He fought fires not only in Canarsie, but also areas like Bergen Beach without their own departments.