Her street: Civic honchos honor late local leader and activist Mafalda DiMango at street co-naming ceremony

Her street: Civic honchos honor late local leader and activist Mafalda DiMango at street co-naming ceremony
Photo by Steve Solomonson

She’ll rule the school forever.

Civic gurus gathered at the corner of 81st Street and 15th Avenue in Dyker Heights on Saturday to honor late community and education activist Mafalda DiMango at a street co-naming ceremony in her honor, just steps from where she lived, worked, and studied for many years of her life.

The event offered a touching tribute to the local leader’s legacy, according to one of her two daughters, who added that her mother was missed at the affair.

“It was bittersweet — she was being honored for so much that she did, but she wasn’t there to know how it was appreciated,” said Joanne Orr, who lives in the distant land of New Jersey.

Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge) hosted the event, which included remarks from Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D–Bensonhurst), local school superintendent Karina Constantino, and others who testified to the impact DiMango had on them during her years of public service, much of which was centered on the nearby PS 204, where DiMango and her two daughters attended school and where DiMango served as president of the parent-teacher association, according to Orr. And DiMango’s 95-year-old husband, Anthony, did the official honors of unveiling the sign.

The longtime Dyker Heights resident, who was also one of the longest-serving school board members in the city’s history, died Aug. 2 at 91-years-old. She spent more than 40 years advocating for students in School District 20 — which includes Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Borough Park, and part of Bensonhurst — as a member of the school board and the Community Education Council. She also spent many years as a member of the Dyker Heights Civic Association and Community Board 11, and received many awards over the years for her service, including the Civic Award, the Woman of the Year Award, and the Hidden Treasure of the Community Award, all from the Bay Ridge Community Council. DiMango also received the JFK Italian-American Heritage Citation, and was honored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and was even knighted by the president of Italy, according to her other daughter, Patricia DiMango.

Mafalda DiMango moved from Salerno, Italy, to the Bensonhurst area with her family as a young child, according to her daughter. After she married her husband, Anthony, she gave birth to her two daughters, Patricia and Joanne, who she raised in a house right next door to PS 204. Patricia, who is one of three judges on CBS’s courtroom show Hot Bench, said the co-naming will forever honor her mother’s place in the community.

“It will be there for time immemorial,” the judge said. “It really does represent a lot to us as a family.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Sound of music: Young scholar-musicians from Dyker Heights’ IS 201 band provided a soundtrack to the events.
Photo by Steve Solomonson