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Community Activist Mary Spink Loses Battle Against Long Illness

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This morning we were sad to learn about a big loss for the Lower East Side.  Longtime community activist Mary Spink, who had been battling a failing liver and kidneys, died late last night at Beth Israel Hospital.

Mary was executive director of Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association, an organization that has renovated and built many buildings throughout the neighborhood for affordable housing. She was a member of Community Board 3 and a board member of the LES Peoples Federal Credit Union,  the LES Girls Club and many other organizations.

Last June, Mary was named a “Woman of Distinction” by State Senator Daniel Squadron.  At the time, the senator said: “Mary represents the best of individual achievement against all odds, which she directs entirely at empowering and bettering her community. Her passion, hard work and ingenuity have inspired countless others and made the Lower East Side a better place. I’m thrilled to honor everything that Mary has done to make our community more affordable and diverse.”

Mary was a key member of the CB3 panel that finally agreed last year on redevelopment guidelines for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.  Even though she was battling complications from a bad fall and had trouble attending marathon meetings, she was determined to remain part of the process.

After arriving in the city as a teenager, she owned and operated a dress shop, a newsstand and a hardware store.  She was a cook, a record promoter, a brick layer, a dancer, a waitress, a plumber, an office manager, a superintendent and a property manager. She served as Director of Drug Prevention for the Archdiocese of New York.

Mary was born in Schenectady, New York.

We don’t have details about a memorial service just yet, but we’ll post that information as soon as we get it.

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  1. Dear Mary, I already miss you. Words will never fully express the great sense of loss your passing presents. Love you always.

  2. It was an honor and privilege to know and work with Mary. Our community is diminished without her, though her efforts have enhanced it forever.

  3. There
    are people who make a real difference to us as individuals and to our community.
    Mary Spink “owned the Lower East Side” — she made it hers, ours and told us that our communities belong
    to everyone. She made impossible things happen and showed us how to do it. I am and we are all better off because she believed and fought for the future

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