Veteran, activist, patriot: Howie Dunn honored with street co-naming

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Honoring a hero: Veterans came out to honor the late Howie Dunn’s commitment to local vets.
Memory lane: Howie’s wife of 68 years, Mae, was thrilled that she was able to see the street naming on the block where they lived.
Local hero: Councilman Vincent Gentile praised Dunn’s commitment to Bay Ridge.
Remembering an icon: State Sen. Martin Golden also regaled the crowd with tale of Dunn’s service.
Out in force: Locals whose lives were touched by Dunn came out to celebrate the naming.
Salute to Howie: Howard Dunn served as the grand marshal for the 2015 Kings County Memorial Day Parade.

It’s a Dunn deal!

The corner of Third Avenue and 78th Street was officially co-named “Howard Dunn Way” on June 3 to commemorate the World War II vet and civic titan. Dunn, known as Howie to friends, was a Southern Brooklyn native with an unmatched devotion to the borough, said one community leader.

“I think Howie Dunn is probably the leading example of dedication to a community,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10. “I mean, he was active in Bay Ridge in so many ways, whether it was advocating for a veterans in need of city service, working with the Boy Scouts on numerous clean up projects, taking Brooklyn youth to hospitals to meet veterans. I mean he was so active.”

Dunn served in the Navy during in World War II before returning to the borough to marry his high school sweetheart. The couple settled on 78th Street in 1959 where they remained until Dunn passed away on Sept. 25, 2015 at 88-years-old, just weeks after serving as the Grand Marshal for the Kings County Memorial Day Parade. His wife of 68 years, Mae, and their daughter remain on the block.

The neighborhood do-gooder raised nearly $30,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project and regularly worked with hospitals to organize clothing drives for veterans. But he was best known for his patriotic planting of more than 1,000 American flags along Bay Ridge thoroughfares.

And he was such a neighborhood force that his daughter, Geraldine Martinez, and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) successfully lobbied the city to expedite the street naming to ensure Dunn’s nearly 90-year-old widow would be able to see the honor.

“It was very surreal to see it happen,” said Martinez. “When I saw Vinny Gentile at my father’s wake I approached him right then. I really pushed for it, I just wanted her to be alive to just rejoice in this.”

Dozens of neighbors and local pols came out to pay their respects to Dunn and celebrate his life with stories. Beckmann recalled a time when she spent the entire day with Dunn working on a Boy Scout project and then saw him on the street just a few hours later with a coffee can asking for donations for veterans.

“He just gave himself to the community over and over again,” said Beckmann.

“He was an energizer — always out there trying to do good and help others. The street renaming was an honor well deserved.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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