Rory Staunton Field a tribute to Rory
“Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Winston Churchill
On September 23, in Jackson Heights, Queens the New York City owned, former Garden School field, was renamed in honor of Rory.
Many wonderful tributes were paid to Rory by family, friends, community leaders and elected officials. One of my favorite tributes was one by New York Parks Commissioner, Veronica M. White who said that “Many parks are named in honor of local civic leaders, who improved their communities and fought for their interests. Although his life was short, the positive impact of Rory Staunton’s actions was immense, and can be felt by talking to anyone who knew him. The Staunton family was one of the leading voices in the effort to acquire this park, and it is only fitting to honor Rory’s legacy by renaming the park in his memory.”
This is where Winston Churchill’s quotation comes in. You see, Rory and his sister Kathleen used to attend Garden School, this is where he fell, although we still do not know the details surrounding the fall, despite several requests. Rory’s dad Ciaran was on the Board of the School and I was on the PTA. For a time we truly believed that we could reverse the dire financial situation the school found itself in. We organized their first Gala, raised a ton of money but alas to no avail.
The Board of the School and the school administration were determined to sell the school’s playing field. However, they were determined to sell the playing field to a real estate developer. To those of you who do not know the Jackson Heights area, it is an area full of apartment buildings with very little green space for families to mingle.
The deal was being pushed ahead and Ciaran attended meeting after meeting trying to wrestle the space back for the community. After every meeting he came home feeling low and Rory and Kathleen would continuously talk about how important it was for the children in the school and Jackson Heights to have a park to play in and how much they loved their local park.
Jackson Heights has a terrific community of activists. They were not going to give in. It was a fight to the end. Together, holding convictions of honor and good sense in hand the community won the day. The field belonged with the children.
On September 23, it was an honor to stand with them and look at the new park name: “Rory Staunton Field.”