By Domenick Rafter
Editor in Chief
Longtime Bayside civic leader Frank Skala passed away Monday at age 78.
The former Community Board 11 member passed after a fatal stroke at St. Francis Hospital in Port Washington, LI.
Skala was widely known in civic circles as president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association and was one of Northeast Queens’ most prominent civic leaders.
Skala was also known for playing the role of Santa Claus, a character his trademark white beard allowed him to easy fit into, at various functions, including the Queens Tribune’s annual Holiday Party.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who awarded Skala a “Liberty Medal” in late June. Skala was one of four Northern Queens civic leaders to receive the medal, along with Richard Hellenbrecht, Arlene Flieshman and Mandingo Tsaka.
“To capture the legacy of Frank Skala and his contribution to Bayside Queens would require more than several sentences could possibly allow,” Avella said. “One need not enumerate the myriad of ways in which Frank made his community a better place – a simple conversation with anyone who knew this great man would sufficiently convey the level of respect with which he was held. Frank was an entrepreneur, a teacher, an activist, a philanthropist, and a local leader. More than that, he was a dedicated father, husband and a dear friend. My thoughts and prayers go out to Frank Skala’s family. This community has suffered greatly from your passing.”
Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) also paid tribute to Skala.
“Frank Skala was uniquely dedicated to our community,” he said in a statement. “Throughout his tenure as President of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, and as a member of Community Board 11, Frank fought passionately to protect the quality of life of our neighborhood. Frank’s service left a lasting impact and he will truly be missed.”
Skala is survived by a daughter, Bonnie, and a son Edward, and two grandchildren.