Dora Young was more than just a political activist in southeast Queens, she was an inspiration and guiding force to the community leaders and elected officials in the city.
Nearly 200 mourners, including a Who’s Who of political heavyweights, gathered at St. Benedict the Moor Church in St. Albans Friday to honor the 89-year-old Democratic district leader for her decades of service.
Not only was Young one of the first black and female deputy clerks to work at Queens Borough Hall, she helped several elected officials get into higher office, including City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) and state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) as the co-chair of the Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club.
Comrie, who was joined by his fellow St. Albans leaders as well as Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton), Assembly members Michelle Titus (D-Far Rockaway) and Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) and former Mayor David Dinkins, said politics was always her passion.
“A Democratic district leader is a non-paid position … yet so many [prominent] people came out here,” he said.
Young was born Oct. 20, 1921, in North Carolina, and after marrying Evie Young Jr. in 1949, the couple moved to Addisleigh Park, where she remained for the rest of her life.
She worked at Queens Borough Hall for more than two decades and officiated at hundreds of marriages. More than 40 years ago, she and former Councilman Archie Spigner helped to create the Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club to put southeast Queens on the political map.
Spigner said she really had a good vision for the club and always spoke candidly to everyone.
“She’d always used to tell me, ‘Archie, you’re not the only leader around here in the club,’” he joked.
Young took many up-and-coming political proteges under her wing and helped them accomplish their goals. Scarborough recalled that when he first joined the club, he wanted to run for several open elections, but she forbade him to do so due to his inexperience.
The assemblyman said her advice paid off and he was able to work his way up to the Assembly seat.
“Dora helped people and taught people,” he said.
Smith agreed and said her energy brought energy to any event or meeting among the elected officials.
“She was the type of person that once she got in a room, she lit it up. She got everyone talking,” she said.
Aside from her duties as the club’s co-leader, Young never lost touch with the community. She was active with her church and kept volunteering her time — especially at Christmas, when she answered children’s letters to Santa Claus as St. Nick’s secretary.
Even when an undisclosed illness kept her from being out and about, she would still lend a hand in the neighborhood and make sure that the community’s quality of life remained stable.
Dinkins, whom she campaigned for during the late 1980s, said her life would be an example to generations to come.
“Service to others is the right we pay for being on earth. Dora Young left paid in full,” he said.