George Rodriguez (at right) at a rally for LatinX rights in the South Bronx in the 1970s.

A street intersection in Mott Haven now bears the name of a longtime community advocate and local official, ensuring he’ll always be remembered in the community he served.

Roughly 50 people gathered outside of Lincoln Hospital Monday to witness the unveiling of the George Rodriguez Way street sign, located at the intersection of Morris Avenue and East 149th St., and named after the longtime chair of Bronx Community Board 1 and of the hospital’s advisory board.

“George was a father to us all,” Arline Parks, Board 1’s chair, said during a ceremony prior to the unveiling that commemorated Rodriguez’s service to the community. “He served honorably and was truly a spirit to the South Bronx.”

Other local, New York City and state officials also spoke warmly of Rodriguez, who died in 2019 at the age of 71. He served on Bronx’s Community Board 1 for 22 years.

“He was the staunchest advocate in the room for any given issue,” said state Sen. José Marco Serrano. “Easily as he was the strongest fighter in the room he was also the kindest person in the room. With a wink and a smile you knew exactly where his heart was,” the senator added, elaborating that his tough but caring demeanor was emblematic of the South Bronx.

“George was definitely a fighter,” said Councilman Rafael Salamanca, who received the first George Rodriguez Leadership award, an annual honor that will be given to an individual or institution dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents of the Port Morris, Mott Haven, Morrisania communities in the South Bronx.

Rodriguez was born in Salina, Puerto Rico, and became an advocate of the Puerto Rican diaspora community in the Bronx when he moved to the US. He served in the United States Air Force and was a veteran of the Korean War.

Rodriguez also played a pivotal role in lobbying for the 1972 construction of the current Lincoln Hospital, at 234 E. 149th St., according to Antonio Montalvo, assistant director of public affairs for the hospital. The old Lincoln Hospital, located on Concord Avenue, was in decrepit shape, Montalvo said.

As a member of the hospital’s advisory committee, a volunteer position that works with the hospital’s administration to better the health of the community, Rodriguez “fought for the rights of the patients for good health care, to receive good health care,” said Montalvo said, who knew Rodriguez for over 20 years.

Photo: Gerard Edic. Elected officials join members of Community Board 1 to unveil a new street sign honoring George Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also continued the mission of the Young Lords, an activist organization that took over Lincoln Hospital in 1970 to demand better health care conditions for patients, Montalvo said. The Young Lords’ takeover produced the first patient bill of rights and Rodriguez was instrumental in continuing to advocate for hospital patients, Montalvo said.

Rodriguez is survived by six children and his wife, Aida Rodriguez.

“My dad was a very, very special man,” said Rosie Rodriguez, a daughter who described her father as “very giving” and who constantly walked the streets of his community to hear from residents.

Rodriguez worked long hours, often sacrificing time with his family, according to Rosie and Aida Rodriguez. Witnessing the number of people who showed for Monday’s ceremony was an example of Rodriguez’s commitment to the community, they said.

“I love my husband but I had to understand that he was a people’s man, a servant,” Aida Rodriguez said.

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