Community board pioneer Emil Rucigay, 84, passes
by Andrew Pavia
Jul 11, 2012 | 3860 views | 1 1 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Emil Rucigay was anything but lazy and far from selfish. With over 40 years as a member of the Board of Trustees at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and 15 as it's chair, Rucigay concerned himself with helping others.

He died on Saturday, July 7, at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center after being admitted for syncope, which is associated with fainting and dizziness. In his hospital room Rucigay suffered a broken neck injury and had to undergo surgery for several hours. He then appeared paralyzed from the waist down and was put on life support. The doctors are still unaware how he injured his neck. He was 84.

“He realized the great importance of a local community hospital and in recent years put his efforts into ensuring that Wyckoff Heights Medical Center would remain a healthy and strong institution,” said Fred Haller, who served with Rucigay on the board.

Rucigay practiced law for over 50 years in the Glendale-Ridgewood area and belonged to the Blackstone Lawyers Club of Ridgewood.

“Most of his life he was giving back to the community,” said Vincent Arcuri, chairman of Community Board 5.

According to Arcuri, Rucigay helped develop the methods and techniques that would later be used as common practice for community boards citywide while he was chairperson of roughly the equivalent of four community boards in the Lindsay administration.

He didn't just help shape the way community boards would be organized, “he was our original leader,” said Arcuri.

“He was also an amateur historian with a great trivia mind,” added Arcuri. “You could ask him anything and he had an answer for it. Any subject.”

Arcuri said that Rucigay was also interested in art.

“He liked to relax by copying art masters and famous paintings,” he said. “Those were his things, art and history.”

A wake for Rucigay was held at Hillerbrand Funeral Home at 63-71 Woodhaven Boulevard in Rego Park on Tuesday, July 10, and Wednesday, July 11. The funeral mass took place at St. Matthias Church at 58-15 Catalpa Avenue in Ridgewood on Thursday, July 12.

He was buried at Evergreens Cemetery on Cooper Avenue between Cypress and Wycoff Avenues.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, those who wish to pay their respects to Rucigay should instead make a donation to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, 636 Morris Turnpike, Suite 3-A, Short Hills, New Jersey.
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July 12, 2012
Such a great man. Such a tremendous loss. Emil was a wonderful lawyer. A terrific friend. A loving family man and a great big teddy bear with an infectious laugh that could only warm your heart. He could brighten any occasion with his wonderful sense of humor. He was a longtime friend of the family and it breaks my heart that he is gone from this Earth. God Bless.