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Late borough bard Ken Siegelman gets street named for him

Brooklyn’s late poet laureate along with several longtime community activists will soon have intersections in southern Brooklyn named for them.

Community Board 15 unanimously recommended to rename the corner of West 5th Street and Wolf Place as Ken Siegelman Way.

Siegelman, Brooklyn’s poet laureate, died at 63 in his Gravesend home on June 19 after a decade-long struggle with kidney disease. The corner named for him is near his home.

“I’m thrilled and he would be standing up and saying he couldn’t believe it,” said his widow, Pearl Siegelman, after the vote was taken. “The movie, ‘Fading to Zero,’ about him was filmed on the block and that’s where he wrote a lot of his poetry.”

Over his accomplished career, Siegelman authored over 200 published poems, which appeared in scores of magazines and other publications throughout the country, as well as several books, including “Off Brooklyn Bridge,” a financial and literary success.

Before the spotlight was cast his way, Siegelman taught social studies at Abraham Lincoln High School for 33 years.

The second re-naming proposal is for the corner of East 21st Street and Emmons Avenue to be calledSheila Nelson Way.

Sheila Nelson is the late wife of City Councilmember Mike Nelson. She died Dec. 10 after fighting cancer for six years.

The daughter of Betty and Julius Saul, who owned a steel business, Sheila grew up in Brooklyn, attending Lincoln High School. Her parents, who fled Europe during the Holocaust, both died when Sheila was young, cementing in her an unflappable sense of responsibility.

While she attended Fairleigh Dickinson University—where she graduated with honors—she also raised her brother, Lawrence.

After college, she earned a Master’s Degree in Education, and a second Master’s in School Administration.

For the next 34 years she held a variety of jobs in education. She worked as a special education teacher for two decades, was a teacher trainer, a dean at Boody Junior High School, and director of Family College at Kingsborough Community College. She also headed the gifted program in School District 21.

“It [street renaming] is very touching,” said Mike Nelson. “She didn’t want any kind of renaming where she lived, but instead by Loehmann’s, where she loved to shop.”

CB 15 also recommended re-naming the corner of West End Avenue and Cass Place for Rabbi Joseph Singer, and the corner of East 4th Street and Avenue W for Sister Jane Talbot.

Singer, who died March 5, 2004, was the longtime rabbi emeritus of the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, and Talbot, who died June 6, 2009, was the longtime pastoral minister of Our Lady of Grace Church.

The board also recommended re-naming the corner of Whitney and Gerritsen Avenues as Veteran’s Memorial Way.

CB 15 Chair Theresa Scavo said the recommendations will be sent in letter form to Councilmembers Nelson, Domenic Recchia and Lew Fidler, who represent the areas in which the re-naming will take affect.

The three will then put the matter for a formal vote before the City Council.

-with Gary Buiso

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