Vincenet Abate, who served as chairman of Williamsburg and Greenpoint’s community board for 34 years, died last week at the age of 96.
His former colleagues said he was a caring man who put the needs of his community first.
“He was good at supporting board members,” said former Community Board 1 member Ward Dennis. “You always knew he has your back and if you were working hard for him, he was working hard for you.”
Abate was the first ever chairman of the panel, which formed in 1975. He took the lead on major changes in the neighborhood, guiding the board through the massive rezoning of 2005 and leading the effort to reopen the McCarren Park Pool.
“If it were not for him, that pool would have been filled with dirt and never thought of again,” said neighborhood activist and board member Teresa Toro.
Abate was born in Williamsburg and was a star baseball player in the neighborhood as a kid. He was drafted into the Army in 1941 and stayed on through World War II, eventually rising to the rank of sergeant major. He went on to work for, and then own a soda bottler.
Abate suffered hardships, including having to care for his wife, Rae, who was incapacitated for many years, and the death of his grandson’s wife in the Sept. 11 attacks. But through it all, he never missed a meeting, Toro said.
“He always put community service first and that really impressed me about him,” she said.