As the children and grandchildren of Anthony Neglia joinedCouncilmember Domenic Recchia in pulling the white paper coveringoff of the new Anthony Neglia Way at Bay 34th Street and 86thStreet on Thursday, November 10, the paper got stuck and thepull-string tore off, leaving the sign saying simply: AnthonyNeg. Everyone immediately broke out into grins and shook theirheads.
Well, he liked to be called The Neg’ anyway, chuckled hisnephew Peter Neglia. He had a license plate that said THE NEG,’added Neglia’s eldest daughter Marianne Malone; her brother,Anthony Christopher Neglia, noting, This means he’s here [with ustoday] and approves [of the sign].
Street co-namings may seem small and insignificant in the grandscheme of things, but to the residents and neighborhoods touched bythose being memorialized, it’s a priceless action and the leastthat those still living can do for those, like Bensonhurst-borncommunity leader and businessperson Anthony Neglia, who earned thehonor
Tony Neglia’s devotion to his community is an inspiration to usall, said Recchia, who spearheaded the campaign through CityCouncil to get the corner – where Neglia once had his offices -renamed for the neighborhood icon. Today’s street renamingdedication is the most fitting way to ensure that his name andlegacy live on.
He tried so diligently to help the community flourish, saidAnthony Christopher. He was the small businessman’s businessman,always an advocate for [them], always supporting localbusinessowners, fighting against the Sunday Blue Laws [which passedand allowed shopping hours on Sundays]. Probably his biggest legacyfrom a community standpoint was that he fought not only for 86thstreet but for businesses – the heart of the community.
Neglia was born in Bensonhurst on August 10, 1927, grew up toopen Al-Brite Paints with his brother Joe in 1955, and raise afamily of four kids – three girls and one boy – with his late wifeAntoinette.
He also built and raised an extended family of fellowBrooklynites as the head of the 86th Street-Bensonhurst CommunityMerchants, as the founder of the 86th Street Bath Beach KiwanisClub, and as a member of Community Board 11, the Bensonhurst Boardof Trade, the Joint Council of Kings County Board of Trade andvarious local retail associations.
Some of their fondest and most vivid memories of Neglia have todo with joining him at work and learning the ropes through him,said his brother and children.
He was a hard-working fellow, said Joseph Neglia. Where hegot the energy to pursue his mission of helping the needy insteadof the greedy is beyond me. He had a passion for people and wantedto pursue God’s gift given to him of working with the community andkeeping it safe.
It was amazing, working with him, said Neglia’s grandson,Kevin Malone, 34, who also became a business owner in his ownright. I learned so much from him… not just as a business owner,but street knowledge.
I know how hard he worked [just from] working with him on the86th Street Merchants newsletter, Spotlights and doing the holidaylights, said Marianne, who noted that since he got sick in 2007,there have been no lights.
That fact is something that Recchia and other business leadersare vowing to fix, at the very least as a tribute to the man whomade so much of it happen.
His heart was always in Brooklyn. His last day on 86th Streetwas June 7, 2008 – a month before he died – for the street fair. Hewas very sick, but wanted to make it a point to see the fair andsee it through.