It was a life well lived — and now, well remembered.
Local politicians and officials gathered at the corner of Coney Island and Brighton Beach avenues on May 1 for a ceremony marking the co-naming of the corner after late local community leader and activist Valeriy “Larry” Savinkin. Savinkin’s wife, Valentina, said the event was a powerful way to pay tribute to her husband’s legacy as a staunch advocate for the community and keeping Ukrainian culture alive in it.
“It was wonderful — so many nice, sweet words about him,” she said. “He deserved it.”
The Savinkins emigrated from Odessa, Ukraine, to Brighton Beach in 1996 with their two children, Vladimir and Galina. Five years later, Vladimir died in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center while he was working on the North Tower’s 101st floor, leading Savinkin to start the September 11 Family Group to keep Vladimir’s memory alive through an annual memorial at Asser Levy Park on W. Fifth Street in Coney Island, where he also commissioned a permanent memorial installed in 2005.
Savinkin also advocated for the neighborhoods he called home, serving as the vice president of Coney Island’s Community Board 13 and a board member of the Brighton Beach Improvement District. He also served as a board member and later as chairman of the borough’s Holocaust Memorial Committee. He later worked in local politics, for former Rep. Bob Terner and later as a Russian community liaison for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Marine Park), who was also at the May 1 unveiling.
But Savinkin also always kept his home country and culture in mind, joining the Odessa Community of New York and later becoming its president, during which time he organized events to celebrate his native city’s culture and notable residents.
Savinkin’s daughter Galina said that despite her father’s wide involvement and many accomplishments, he was most proud to be a dad, and that he had even hoped a street would one day be co-named for his late son Vladimir.
“By far his proudest accomplishment would probably be my brother and I. His most important job was being a father,” she said. “It’s definitely a very proud moment [to have the street co-naming]. It was always a dream of my father’s to have a street named after my brother, and it actually turned out to be a street name for my dad.”
She added that her father’s work organizing the September 11 Family Group was particularly meaningful to him.
“That’s something that he put a lot of time and passion into,” she said.
Councilmen Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) and Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) were at the May 1 unveiling, and Deutsch wrote on Twitter that the corner would always remind locals of Savinkin’s legacy.
“The corner of Brighton Beach Ave. and Coney Island Ave. will forever remain a testament to Larry’s strength and spirit,” he wrote.
Treyger concurred on Twitter, adding that the corner was a perfect location to co-name after Savinkin given his commitment to local causes.
“It is a fitting place to pay tribute to a man who loved this community and worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for his fellow community members,” he wrote.
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