Wednesday, October 7, 2015

R.I.P. | Mae Doris Corrigan (1928-2015)

Doris Corrigan (lower left) with then-Speaker Quinn (R),
 turning out for Hillary Clinton. Assemblyman Dick
Gottfried and Tom Duane, upper left, were at Doris'
memorial service last weekend.
There are people in New York City who make things work and are insufficiently recognized.

You sometimes don't find out the full extent of their contributions after they die and a memorial service is held for them.

Jane Wood in Chelsea was one of those people, saving so many from evictions from their homes.
Little-known fact: Doris attended
Hogwart's, which explains a LOT.
Here she is graduating from the
junior school at Hogwart's.

Another was Mae Doris Corrigan, who was at the forefront of every Chelsea humanitarian and anti-discrimination cause for one-third of a century.

A memorial for Doris Corrigan was held last weekend from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Hudson Guild in Chelsea. It was opened by Ken Jockers of Hudson Guild.

Laura Morrison. Photo
Doris was 87 when she died July 23, 2015 in the Amsterdam Nursing Home, where she had been a patient for several months. Doris was a major presence in Chelsea, as was indicated by the large turnout in her memory.

State Sen. Brad
Hoylman. Photo JTM.
Doris was widely known in New York City for her advocacy of progressive neighborhood causes within the Reform Democratic Party organization over the past 40 years. She was at the founding of the Chelsea Waterside Park Association. She was president of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, and fought to promote affordable housing and to defeat the plan for a football stadium on the West Side.

Her health began to deteriorate in 2011 when she was hospitalized after a fall, said Laura Morrison, a community liaison officer for state Senator Brad Hoylman and a long-time friend of Doris’s.

Five generations of Chelsea district leaders turn out to honor Doris Corrigan.
L to R: Steven Skyles-Mulligan, Sylvia Di Pietro, Tom Schuler, Tim Gay,
Paul Groncki, Kathy Kinsella, former State Senator Tom Duane. Photo JTM.
State Senator Brad Hoylman said : "They say in Albany there are two kinds of people - workhorses and show bunnies. Doris was a workhorse."

Morrison and Tom Schuler, a former Democratic district leader for Chelsea, helped Doris in her W. 20th St. apartment at the end of her life.  They and Steven Skyles-Mulligan, current Democratic district leader for Chelsea, made it possible for Doris to remain in her Chelsea apartment for as long as possible, and found her a nursing home on W. 112th St.

Born Mae Doris Clark, she was raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and went to Wayne University in Detroit. She moved to New York and married journalist Frank Corrigan. Years later, Doris became his full-time caregiver when he became seriously ill. He died in 1982.

Robert Trentlyon (L with Yale cap) at the Harvard-Yale
game, 2011. Bob and Betty are away in Holland. He
is researching storm surge barriers for NYC. Bob doesn't
like this photo (Harvard won big). Selfie by JTM.
Robert Trentlyon, a member of Community Board 4, former publisher of the Chelsea-Clinton News and founder of both the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club and the Waterside Park Association, said to Al Amateau that Doris worked for his office and then just appeared on the political scene in the early 1980s:
She was always dependable and then indispensable. She came to the Chelsea-Clinton News office on 24th St. in the late 1970s after she lost an advertising job somewhere. [...] She took care of the details in everything she did.
State Senator Duane, District Leader Corrigan and
Governor (Mario) Cuomo.
Doris Corrigan joined Trentlyon in his community work and when it came to planning for the Hudson River Park - which now covers the entire west side from Battery Park to 59th Street - she came aboard for that as well.  The nine-acre Chelsea Cove now includes a skate park, lawn and carousel.

The Proclamation by then-City Council  Speaker Christine Quinn expresses "gratitude" of the City of New York to Trentlyon and Corrigan for “breaking down the wall that kept Chelsea removed from its waterfront."Speaker Christine Quinn called them “living legends of the West side.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (L) and former District Leader Kathy Kinsella, with
Steven Skyles-Mulligan behind at right. Photo by JT Marlin.
Trentlyon was not at the the memorial service because he is in Holland investigating the potential for barriers to prevent catastrophic storm surges of the kind that occurred during the Katrina storm. Trentlyon is now working on storm-surge barriers and is away in Holland doing research on them.

Councilman Corey
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, whose district now takes in much of Chelsea, said: "Doris held every position she could within Chelsea. You always knew that her petitions would come back looking beautiful. And, by the way, she was a great cook as well."

Rep. Jerry Nadler praised Doris' work on parks and on the fight against the West Side Stadium as proposed sequentially by Mayors Giuliani (baseball) and Bloomberg (football).

Kathy Kinsella, former president of the Chelsea reform club said of Corrigan:
NYC Comptroller Scott
She was famous for her short stature [just under 5 feet] and a short temper that went with it. She was impatient at times, yet a very thorough teacher. She was our go-to person who knew everything and got it all done. Fierce and forceful, kind and generous, Doris will always be with me. 
Corey Johnson, the District 3 city council member, noted that Doris remembered the trees she had planted. She was at work so many years that some of the trees she planted on the blocks have grown to their full glory. He said: "Doris was Chelsea. She was involved in every community win and every battle over the last generation."

Comptroller Scott Stringer, who spoke first, said: "In so many cases, Doris was the one who got it done."

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried said of her: "I knew and worked with Doris for over 30 years. In everything she did, whether service on Community Board 4, or as president of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, and later as Chelsea’s Democratic district leader and then Democratic State Committee member, Doris Corrigan was always forceful and energetic and fought for what she believed."

Sources: Some quotes above are excerpted from the reporting of Al Amateau of Chelsea Now and Tara Kyle of DNA Chelsea.

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