Freddie Dill’s legacy was solidified last Friday when friends and elected officials formally declared 129th Avenue in Springfield Gardens"Freddie Dill, Sr. Avenue."
Friends remembered Dill, who died in 2001, as more than just a well-respected businessman and the owner of Pooor Freddie’s Tire Center and the Rib Shack on Linden Boulevard.
"Freddie was a beautiful person," said Richard Gibbs, a friend who attended the ceremony.
He added that Dill, a member of the United Black Men of Queens County, was known for hosting Fourth of July barbecues that welcomed hundreds of people from the neighborhood.
Warren Small of the Federation of Black Cowboys in Howard Beach remembers Dill’s healthy lifestyle.
"My fondest memory of him is when he made a holistic switch and became a vegetarian."
Dill’s interest in health was evident when he bought property on Springfield and Merrick boulevards to prevent a cigarette advertising billboard. But most telling of Freddie’s character, friends said, was his perseverance in business.
"He started out with a mud hole –– literally," Gibbs said of Dill’s first tire business. Dill intentionally spelled "Pooor" with three o’s in his business name to emphasize his penniless beginning when he would polish and sell hub caps found in the street.
But the day wasn’t all celebratory. State Sen. Shirley Huntley remarked on the plight of one of Dill’s daughters, Shewanna Dill-Darby, who owns Curves, a women’s gym, across from the newly-named street on Merrick Boulevard.
In the wake of recent investigations into an architect who allegedly produced fraudulent Department of Buildings documents, Dill-Darby’s business has been closed. "I’ve been losing sleep over this," Dill-Dabry said. "I was gonna cancel this ceremony, but I didn’t because of what my father has done in this community."
Barbara Campbell-Jones lives on 129th Avenue down the block from Dill’s tire center. She knew Dill for several decades. "He was a kind and generous man," she said. "He looked out for the young people a lot." She said although he died six years ago, his work continues through his son, Freddie Dill Jr., who unveiled the street sign bearing his father’s name.
"It’s a culmination of my father’s work in the community," he said at the event. "He would really be grateful."