As 2012 draws to a close, it's time to look back and remember the integral members of Brooklyn communities who passed in the past 12 months.
March 15: Elsie Richardson passes away at the age of 89. Richardson was fearless and courageous fighter for human rights.
She served as a community organizer, was a co-founder of the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council, worked for 12 years at the Board of Education’s District Office and led Senator Robert F. Kennedy on a local tour of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Kennedy, along with Jacob Javits ended up working with Richardson in creating the first federally supported model of community development and the first nonprofit Community Development Corporation in the nation, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
May 1: Greg Jackson passes away at the age of 60. Jackson, a college basketball champ and a member of the 1974 Knicks, died of a sudden heart attack.
He constantly gave back to the Brownsville community: under Jackson's leadership as manager, the Brownsville Recreation Center underwent a massive renovation in the 1980's. It is now serves more than 1,000 adults and kids every day.
In 2008, Greg became a founding director of Community Solutions’ Brownsville Partnership, an innovative effort to prevent homelessness and keep Brownsville families on their feet. “In 30 years of working in community development, I’ve never met a leader like Greg,” said Community Solution’s Executive Director Rosanne Haggerty.
May 4: Adam Yauch passes away at the age of 47. Yauch, a member of Brooklyn's Beastie Boys and who went by the stage name MCA, had been battling cancer of the salivary gland since 2009. He is survived by his wife Dechen, daughter Tenzin Losel, and parents Frances and Noel Yauch.
Yauch, the only child of a Catholic father and Jewish mother, and the rest of the Beasties played their first show in Midwood at Edward R. Murrow High School. Brooklyn's reaction to the news was passionate, with many residents devastated to hear he had passed.
"They brought New Yorkers together with their lyrics, it came out a couple years after 9/11 and that song celebrates all the different neighborhoods and ethnicities in NYC coming together," said Park Slope resident Nikka Hodgeman.
July 19: Ramona Parker passes away at 43. Parker, a rapper pioneer who was commonly known as Ms. Melodie, was well known for her 1989 hit single “Self Destruction” and her music video “Live on Stage.”
The Flatbush-born emcee was a member of Boogie Down Productions and the ex-wife of fellow rapper KRS-One. She is survived by two sons.
Many took to Twitter to express their condolences once news of her passing spread. "RIP Ms. Melodie, Hip-Hop trailblazer," tweeted Councilman Jumaane Williams, D-Ditmas Park. Hip-hop maven Russell Simmons also took to Twitter, writing, “RIP Ms. Melodie. A dope MC.”
Oct. 29: Jessie Streich-Kest passes away at 24. Streich-Kest was struck and killed by a falling tree while walking her dog during Hurricane Sandy. Council Member Brad Lander said of Streich-Kest: "She had recently started working as a special education teacher at Bushwick Social Justice High School, and just had her very first parent-teacher conferences."
Streich-Kest dad, Jon Kest, served as Lead Organizer for New York ACORN, and more recently for New York Communities for Change, organizing low-income people to build power and make real, concrete change. Her mother, Fran Streich, is a wonderful and tireless organizer of public school teachers, parents, and low-wage day care workers, Lander wrote.
Oct. 29: Jacob Vogelman passes away at 24. Vogelman was struck and killed by a falling tree while walking his friend's dog during Hurricane Sandy.
Vogelman, “was a kind of unofficial first responder in things as small as fixing a neighbor’s television or as large as accompanying a friend into Hurricane Sandy to check on her cancer-stricken father," according to the Daily Beast. He graduated cum laude from University of Buffalo in theater design and was working toward his Master’s Degree at Brooklyn College.
Jacob’s mom, Park Sloper Marcia Sikowitz, is a NYC Housing Court Judge who has devoted her career to social justice and to helping the citizens of Brooklyn. His father, Lawrence Vogelman is an attorney in New Hampshire.
Nov. 23: Rebbetzin Devorah Krinsky passes away at 74. Krinsky, wife of 55 years of יבלח"ט Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, secretary to the late Lubavitcher Rebbe and daughter of Rabbi Zev and Etta Kasinetz, passed away after a brief illness.
She is survived by her husband, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, longtime aide to the Lubavitch Rebbe and Chairman of the Lubavitch educational and social services organizations, and their children: Rabbi Hillel Dovid Krinsky, Mrs. Sheine B. Friedman, Rabbi Menachem M. Krinsky, Rabbi Levi Y. Krinsky, Mrs. Chana Futerfas and Rabbi Shmaya Krinsky, as well as her brother Rabbi Moshe A. Kasinetz of Livingston, New Jersey.
Nov. 29: Jack Katz passes away at 87. Katz, a long-standing member of the Flatbush community and a force for improvement and development, died of natural causes.
Katz had served as executive director of the Flatbush Avenue Business Improvement District for 22 years and was also a member of Community Board 14. He is survived by his wife and three children.
"Jack was really old-school," said Robin Redmond, executive director of the Flatbush Development Corporation. "He was one of a kind. He ran a BID without a computer."
Katz, who had been a staple of the community and was known for his generosity, had been in and out of the hospital, Redmond said.
Dec. 5: Jon Kest passes away at 57. Kest, a long-standing member of the Ditmas Park community and an advocate for social and economic justice throughout New York State, had been battling cancer.
Kest was executive director of New York Communities for Change and father of Jessie Streich-Kest, who was struck and killed by a falling tree in Ditmas Park during Hurricane Sandy. He is survived by his wife, Fran Streich, and their son, Jake Streich-Kest, as well as his parents, his siblings and their children.
"Jon was a remarkable man," wrote Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor. "Each of us tries to do what we can to make this imperfect world a little better. I think it’s fair to say that Jon Kest did more than his share."