The Conscience of a Community

| 24 Oct 2021 | 10:01

Leading lady leaves the stage - Since the early days of Our Town, Barbara Chocky has been an active and vital part of the UES community. On the civic side, she worked in the education and non profit sectors. Chocky held a nursing degree, but affordable housing was her life’s work. On the political side, Chocky worked first for Assembly Member Peter A.A. Berle and then for his successor Pete Grannis, now NYS Deputy Comptroller. Over the years, she worked at Hunter College and the Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association. Since 1981 and until her passing earlier this month, she was the longest tenured member of Community Board 8. She served as Chair in 1996 and 1997.

Barry Schneider and Judy Schneider served with Chocky on CB 8 starting in the early 90s. Barry, who was Barbara’s immediate successor as Chair and is still a board member, describes her as the “very model of the modern public servant, always open and available to all members of the community” and as someone “who championed the less fortunate.” Barry and Judy remembered Barbara’s passionate advocacy for affordable housing and speaking out against those who held themselves out as superior or above the rest. “She gave life to the terms ‘fair’ and ‘equitable,’” they said. Former CB 8 Board Chair and now Judge Jim Clynes said, “Barbara was a champion for affordable housing.”

“When I was a member and Chair of CB 8 I often sought her advice,” said Clynes. “Her institutional knowledge of the Board and the Community was encyclopedic. And she truly was the conscience of CB 8.”

In remarks at a memorial service at Roosevelt House, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright lauded Barbara’s work in the education and non profit sectors; her work for City Council President Carol Bellamy, Pete Grannis and Peter Berle. Seawright described Chocky as “a fierce advocate, a fellow feminist leader, a faithful mentor to many young women,” and as a mentor and advisor to her in her first race for Assembly. In an interview with Patch, Pete Grannis described Chocky as “indefatigable” and recalled her “staying up late to write campaign literature as fellow volunteers struggled to stay awake.”

Barbara Chocky was the best of a generation that was committed to public service and to working within the civic and political communities. Her legacy will live on and hopefully, the value of her continuing role in the life of NY will give pause to those who believe that institutional memory doesn’t count or should be disregarded or obliterated in favor of term limits. Chocky’s life is a testament to the importance of institutional memory.