The people who make New York New York can often be said to be living landmarks. One such individual passed away recently…
from The New York Times:
“For decades, if there was an empty bench on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Leonora Russo was there to take it. With her electric dresses, chunky jewelry and oversize, Elton John-esque sunglasses, Ms. Russo was a familiar sight in the neighborhood’s ever-changing landscape.
If there is a tale of two Williamsburgs, Ms. Russo occupied the realm alongside the waiters and the shopkeepers. At Vinnie’s Pizzeria, on Bedford Avenue near North Ninth Street, a photograph of Ms. Russo in a bright red dress still hangs on the wall.
As the neighborhood became more popular, she was featured in short documentaries, magazines and blogs. Some referred to her as the Queen of Williamsburg.
… Up and down Bedford Avenue last week, Ms. Russo’s death this month was announced on pink fliers taped to lampposts. She died at New York University Medical Center in Manhattan after a short illness. She was 91.
Karen Holley recalled the first time Ms. Russo sauntered into her clothing shop, Lawanna’s, about 10 years ago. There had been a young man eyeballing a $50 silver skull ring he could not afford.
“She bought it for him,” Ms. Holley, who now lives in New Orleans, said in an email. “They didn’t even know each other. That was the type of woman she was, generous. She was a true wild gem of a woman.”
“She was our Iris Apfel,” she added, referring to the fashion icon.
Ms. Russo was born and raised on East 28th Street in Manhattan. Her parents were Sicilian immigrants. She had lived in her third-floor, rent-controlled railroad apartment on North 11th Street in Williamsburg for 68 years. Her sister, Marie Coradetti, 90, lives in Queens, and her brother, Ignacio Ferraro, 93, in Pennsylvania. Neither attended a memorial service for her on Monday night. Their mother had lived to be 102.
The service, organized by Ms. Russo’s nephew, John Labarac, who lives on Long Island, was held at Arthur’s Funeral Home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The crowd was sparse but diverse, a snapshot of both old and new Williamsburg. Many loved ones, who had left the city years ago, could not make it. Others were stuck at work, just down the street.”…