Even at 94 years old, Shulman was involved in the politics and economic development of Queens. Months prior to her death, she endorsed Councilman Donovan Richards for borough president, appearing with him at the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to announce her support. He would later win the Democratic primary.

Richards said she was an early supporter of his run, and said she followed his career long before he knew it. She followed the race closely, even sending him texts at 7 a.m. on some days expressing her thoughts on the campaign.

“I felt like I was her last big project,” he said. “I will cherish every moment.”

The councilman said Shulman’s legacy lies in all of the institutions she helped build throughout Queens, from the Queens Museum and the Hall of Science to the Jamaica Cultural and Arts Learning Center and Roy Wilkins Park.

“These institutions have stood from her tenure until now,” he said. “What she built led to the betterment of our borough.”

Calling Shulman his “guardian angel,” Richards can still recall the first meeting he ever had with her at her kitchen table. They sat and talked for almost five hours about her love for the borough, the institutions she built and what she hoped for the future.

“She wanted someone to succeed in the seat she thought would build on her legacy,” Richards said. “I always said, ‘why me?’”

Should he win in November, Richards said he wants to “get stuff done” just like his mentor and dear friend Claire Shulman. “I plan on getting plenty of shovels in the ground in my tenure,” he said.

(Photo: Michael O’Kane)

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