Ridge civic superhero passes on

Ridge civic superhero passes on
File photo by Gregory P. Mango

Bay Ridge activist Maureen Stramka — a member of scores of community groups — passed away on May 16.

The 76-year-old Stramka served on Community Board 10, the Ragamuffin Parade Committee, the Bay Ridge Ambulance Volunteer Organization, the Bay Ridge Community Council, the Bay Ridge Lions Club, the district attorney’s office, the Fort Hamilton Citizens Action Committee, and the 68th Precinct Community Council — and volunteered at countless neighborhood events.

“Add them all up, my friend, and there you have it — that was what she did,” said the local leader’s surviving son, Tommy Stramka, co-owner of Fifth Avenue deli Mejlander and Mulgannon.

Stramka was born in the Bronx on June 22, 1937, but moved to Bay Ridge with her parents Norma and Tommy Mulgannon as an infant. Her father, a firefighter and entrepreneur, owned Mulgannon’s Bar on Fifth Avenue and a neighborhood liquor store — which gave Stramka invaluable contacts in the Bay Ridge business community when she became a fund-raiser for local groups decades later.

“She knew every restaurant owner and bartender in the neighborhood, from growing up in Bay Ridge,” her son recalled.

Tommy Stramka said his mother became active in neighborhood causes during the early ’90s, when she began working for the Angel Guardian Home orphanage on 12th Avenue — today part of the MercyFirst chain. She put her connections to good use, raising money for the children’s shelter from Ridge store owners. Soon, she was also fund-raising for the Advocates for the Blind and Mult-Handicapped, and her community service snowballed from there.

“That just led to getting involved in everything else in the neighborhood,” said her son. “She was always involved in something. It kept her busy and it was a social outlet for her.”

Stramka was active almost to the end, despite being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009. She had her lung removed but the cancer survived in the cavity. Most people with lingering malignancies live just a few months, but Stramka survived another four years.

“She was a walking miracle,” said her son.

Tommy Stramka said he remembered his mother as fiercely dedicated to her loved ones and her community.

“She enjoyed everything, helping everyone. She enjoyed her family, her grandchildren, and being socially active and committed,” he said.

Stramka is survived by her son, her daughters Catherine and Maureen, and by her grandkids Thomas, Michelle, and Kristen.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.