Historic, but not famous

Alfredo Thiebaud (December 13, 1939 – September 19, 2014) was the founder and president of Delicioso Coco Helado, known for its coconut flavored ices. He was born in Honduras in 1939. By the 1960s he had immigrated to the Bronx and opened the business that recreated a dessert popular in Latin America and the Caribbean. The business started in the kitchen of his  apartment. He would eventually added more flavors such as cherry and mango.

Alfredo employed workers and supplied vendors with pushcarts that he built himself in his factory basement. These employees became his family, as well as the Bronx community and the organizations that he supported. He often donated his icy treats to neighborhood festivals and borough events. He was known for never saying no to anyone, remaining in the Bronx and selling ices on the streets even during the worst years when most people and companies were fleeing the area.

Mr. Thiebaud’s faith in the Bronx had helped revitalize a declining neighborhood and provided thousands of families with much-needed jobs over the years. He died at the factory he loved after an accident with an electric security gate.

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Historic, but not famous

Richard M. Hoe, inventor, rotary printing press

Richard March Hoe  (September 12, 1812 – June 7, 1886) was an American inventor from New York City who designed a rotary printing press and related advancements, including the “Hoe web perfecting press” in 1871; it used a continuous roll of paper and revolutionized newspaper publishing.

Mr. Hoe was born in New York City. His father and uncles established a steam-powered manufacturing plant for printing presses and at the age of fifteen, Richard joined the company. He led the company after his father’s death in 1833. He is most well known for his invention in 1843 of a rotary printing press: type was placed on a revolving cylinder, a design that could print much faster than the old flatbed printing press. It received a patent  in 1847, and was placed in commercial use the same year by the Sun newspaper in Baltimore.

In 1870 Hoe developed a rotary press that printed both sides of a page at once, called the “Hoe web perfecting press.” The press used a continuous roll of paper five miles long, fed through the machine at 800 feet (240 m) a minute. It then passed over a knife cutting pages apart.

Play structure designed to look like paper going over the rollers in a printing press.

It then passed to the next machine which folded the pages for easy delivery. The press produced 18,000 papers an hour and was used the first time by the New York Tribune. He continued to improve the press, eventually creating the Hoe Lightning press, the fastest printing press of its time.

The Hoe family lived in the Bronx  in what is now known as Printer’s Park. The Park is located at the former site of his mansion, at the corner on Aldus Street and Hoe Avenue and contains  a jungle gym that looks like an old printing press.

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Historic, but not famous

Teresa LeCount, led the restoration of Bissel Gardens in The Bronx

Teresa LeCount, led the restoration of Bissel Gardens in The Bronx in the early part of the 2000s. She watched her area of The Bronx change from a great place to live to a place riddled with crime, garbage and drugs over the 32 years she lived there and decided to improve her neighborhood.

She founded the Bissel Gardens as a non-profit organization to oversee the use of the land. The garden occupies a 5 block area near the train station that had become a dumping ground. She was able to get the support of her Borough president, Fernando Ferrer, and get volunteers to help clean up the lot, which took 2 years. Now one block is a community garden where residents rent plots and grow their own vegetables and flowers. A second block grows food for the hungry and is sent to three church soup kitchens in the area. There are plans for the remaining 3 blocks. Teresa is confined to a wheel chair, so she spends her time organizing and getting support for the gardens.

The gardens now teach students and veterans about sustainable gardening and growing vegetables, fruits and trees. There are tours and it is considered one of the premiere gardens in the Northern Bronx.

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Historic, but not famous

Elias Karmon, known as “Mr. Bronx” for his long dedication to the borough, was a businessman, civic leader, civil rights advocate and philanthropist, Karmon was one of the borough’s biggest boosters through its darkest days and its renaissance.

For 40 years he was the proprietor of Hollywood Clothes at Prospect Ave. and 163rd St., and then began buying buildings, getting involved in important civic causes, doing good deeds. Karmon belonged to the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. He served as president of the original Bronx Chamber of Commerce for four years, and also held the positions of treasurer, second vice-president and first vice-president. He was named chairman emiretus of the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce which he almost, single-handedly, restarted in 2001.

Mr. Bronx helped rebuild the parts of the Bronx impacted by abandonment as one of the founders of Ponce de Leon Federal Bank, one of the few organizations that provided financial services to many residents there in the 1970s and 80s. He was also a board member of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, the Bronx House, South Bronx Mental Health Council, the Bronx Dance Theater, Bronx Community College Foundation, Beth Abraham Hospital Foundation, Bronx Jewish Community Council, Bronx Special Olympics, Bronx Boys and Girls Club and Bronx Y.M.C.A. Karmon’s generous donation greatly aided the Bronx YMCA’s efforts to build its current modern facility and indoor pool on Castle Hill Avenue. The pool also carries Elias’ name.

He also served as president of the Pelham Parkway Jewish Center, and chairman and founding member of the borough’s branch of the Urban League. The borough colleges of CUNY also award an annual scholarship in his honor.

Mr. Karmon died at the age of 98 in 2008. The intersection of Thwaites Place and Barker Avenue, near where he lived in Pelham Parkway, is now known as “Elias Karmon Way”. There is also a housing complex in the Bronx named for him as well.

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