Gavin opened Dazie’s, located at 39-41 Queens Boulevard, in 1972. Since then, she was an active presence in the community. She was a driving force behind the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and even served as its president. She was also a founding member of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID).
Former Community Board 2 Chair Joe Conley said Gavin worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life in the community.
“Lily’s door was always open and with her warm welcoming smile, Lily made sure everyone had a seat at the table and more importantly, a voice,” Conley said. “Her reach to friends, politicians and business leaders far beyond her beloved Sunnyside was amazing, and yet all the while she was ever so humble, never seeking the spotlight.”
Gavin also helped relocate and expand the local YMCA to Queens Boulevard. When the Sunnyside arch was scheduled to be torn down, she worked with the late Luke Adams to restore it. She was also heavily involved in the LaGuardia Community College Foundation and the Kiwanis Club.
In a statement, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that for decades, Gavin’s name has been synonymous with Sunnyside for both her restaurant and participation in the neighborhood civic life.
“Lily was a force in just about every commercial, civic and political event in Sunnyside for so long, that few can remember a time before Lily and Dazie’s,” Van Bramer said. “Dan and I will always fondly remember so many great dinners at Dazie’s where Lilly, Kerry, and the entire Dazie’s family made us feel right at home.”
“She was a strong woman, an entrepreneur, a bridge builder and at times a peacemaker,” he added. “But above all she was a loving mother and grandmother to her family and a dear friend to so many.”
Praise also came from State Senator Michael Gianaris, who called her an “influential figure,” who contributed to the character of Sunnyside.
“Lily was greatly admired by our Sunnyside community and her memory will always remain with us,” he said.
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez said everyone who knew Gavin described her as a lovely person and restaurateur of “tremendous dignity.”
“I always remember her engaging personality from the very first time we met,” Velazquez said. “Every guest who walked through Dazie’s doors encountered her warm hospitality - to say nothing of great Italian cuisine.”
Gavin’s wake was held last Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Lynch’s Funeral Home at 43-7 Queens Boulevard. Her funeral was Monday at Queen of Martyrs in Forest Hills.