Mel Doby, a venerable presence in the Queens co-op community, died March 27 after contracting Covid-19. He was 68.
Doby was a member of the executive committee of the Presidents Council of Cooperatives and Condominiums, which speaks for more than 100,000 units of housing in Queens and has become a potent political force.
Shortly after joining the co-op board at the 200-unit Hilltop Village Co-op No. 1 in Queens in the late 1990s, Doby retired from a 30-year career with the New York Police Department. “When I first moved here,” Doby recalled in an essay in Habitat in 2009, “communication between the board and the shareholders was nonexistent. Fortunately, my years with the NYPD was a great asset in teaching me how to communicate with and understand people. We began a monthly newsletter that informed shareholders on everything – from the proposed color of the new lobby floor and how much it cost, to the twins born to the Smith family. We established an Internet address and encouraged communication from the shareholders – with a guaranteed response from a board member, the site-manager or myself. We created a ‘Meet and Greet Your Neighbor Luncheon,’ held on the last Saturday in June, with outstanding success. Not only are we communicating with our shareholders, they're communicating among themselves. How great is that?”
Mark Hankin, a partner at the law firm Hankin & Mazel, has been representing the four sections of the Hilltop Village co-op for 30 years. “Mel and I were friends for 25 years,” Hankin recalled on Wednesday. “He was a sweetheart and a gentleman, always looking out for somebody else.” One of Doby’s pet projects, Hankin says, was to set up a big screen in the community room every Sunday night and show a movie, with free popcorn. Doby paid for it all out of his own pocket.
“It was not a well-run co-op before Mel got on the board,” Hankin says. “Now it’s in better financial shape than 90 percent of the co-ops in the city.” He adds: “I’ll miss him. This is one of the saddest moments of my life.”
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