Lucy Cecere, who passed away on March 19, 2011, at the age of 89, was small in stature, but a true giant in a neighborhood of outsized personalities in which she lived her whole life. She was someone who deeply loved her Greenwich Village neighborhood and was willing to fight to preserve it. She and her husband Lenny owned and operated the small business “Something Special” on MacDougal Street, a neighborhood fixture. Through their mailbox service, Lucy and her husband Lenny became deeply entwined in the lives of their customers.
Lucy was born on Thompson Street in 1924. She co-founded Caring Community, an organization which provides services to 2,000 seniors in and around Greenwich Village. Lucy helped save the Village Nursing Home in 1975 and was one of the first members of GVSHP’s South Village Advisory Board, helping to steer our efforts to honor and preserve that neighborhood through landmark designation.
According to the Villager, Sarah Jessica Parker said “It was a privilege to know her…Just a loving, exceptional and gracious woman, whose tentacles went very deep in this community. She was a vigilant advocate. Very, very happy to pay my respects today. It’s a great loss.”
GVSHP has proposed that the block of MacDougal Street between Houston and King Streets receive an honorary co-naming as “Lucy and Lenny Cecere Way.” Please sign our petition calling for the honorary renaming of MacDougal between Houston and King Street.
The proposal for the honorary co-naming will be heard at Community Board #2 on Thursday, April 5 at 6:30 pm (location TBD). To help, plan to attend the meeting on April 5 (we’ll share the location when available).
In 2009, Lucy received the Woman of Distinction Award from state Senator Tom Duane, with tributes from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and Councilmember Alan Gerson, in whose office Lucy Cecere had been director of senior policy.
In 2010, GVSHP honored Lucy with a Village Award for her decades of service to her community. During her acceptance, she noted “Don’t change our Village. We love it the way it is…If you ever need me for a fight, I’m on MacDougal St.”
Lenny Cecere was born in Brooklyn, like Lucy to Italian immigrant parents. A WWII veteran, Lenny’s unit was responsible for salvaging material from the battlefield. According to his son, Leonard Jr. “He landed in Normandy two weeks after D-Day, was involved in the Normandy hedgerow battles and in the Battle of Saint-Lô…The unit went through France and Belgium and was near Bastogne when the Battle of the Bulge began. My father told about his hour of glory during a freezing night when he defended a bridge with a bazooka against attacking tanks,”.
After marrying at Our Lady of Pompeii in 1949, Lucy and Lenny moved to nearby Sullivan Street. After they bought 51 MacDougal Street (part of the Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District) in 1962, Lenny eventually took over the retail space on the ground floor, turning it into a store called “Something Special,” selling doughnuts, bagels, candy, greeting cards, and eventually renting mailboxes and copying keys. Lenny became a beloved and widely-known fixture in the community, whom countless Villagers, famous and every-day, came to rely upon for essential services in their daily lives. Lenny was also an active member of the Father’s Club at Our Lady of Pompeii School, and a member of the Knights of Columbus and American Legion posts in Greenwich Village.
Lenny passed away a few years after Lucy, on February, 2015. Please help us honor their memory by supporting the street co-naming.