She really made her mark on the community.
Coney Islanders and visitors from across the country gathered at the intersection of W. 32nd Street and Surf Avenue on July 14 to celebrate the co-naming of a portion of the avenue for longtime community board member and activist Rosia Wyche. The honor was a fitting way to recognize Wyche’s many contributions to the neighborhood, according to her son.
“It was worthy of all the things she did for the community,” said Dominic Wyche, who grew up in Coney Island and now lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Wyche attended the street co-naming with his late mother’s brother and sister, John Sealey and Cynthia Bolton — who traveled all the way from Michigan and Maryland, respectively — along with other family and friends, former Community Board members 13 who served alongside Wyche, and Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island), who had pushed for the co-naming.
Wyche was born in Warsaw, North Carolina, in 1943 and moved to the Northeast to attend Boston University. After graduating, she moved to Coney Island and began her 31-year career working at Coney Island Hospital, where she worked as an electrocardiogram technician, a phlebotomist, and an administrator, a role she held for more than 20 years.
Outside of work, Wyche was an active member of CB13, serving on various committees. She also helped to restore Nautilus Playground, and started both the African-American Senior Club at the Surfside Gardens Community Center and the Coney Island Prep Charter School at the Carey Gardens Community Center in 2009. She also served on several advisory boards and citywide councils. And as a longtime resident of the Coney Island Houses, she organized various events for tenants, including the annual summer festival.
Sealey, Wyche’s brother, said he traveled all the way from his home outside of Detroit to attend the event to pay tribute to his sister’s life of service, and said it reminded him of the impact his sister had.
“As a family member watching your sister’s name go up on a street in Brooklyn as a permanent fixture forever, it really reminded us of everything that she did,” he said. “It was really a joyful event. There was no way I was going to miss it.”
Sealey even credited his sister with shaping the arc of his life and pushing him to go to college and eventually to medical school.
“I would not have been there without her guidance and her support, without her pushing me to that level,” he said.
Bolton said she wasn’t surprised that her sister accomplished so much in Coney Island, because she wasn’t one to give up.
“She wasn’t a quitter — when she got an idea, she was determined,” she said. “She was very persistent.”