< Return To News Archive
January 14, 1986
'Mama' to Be Buried Today

by Saul Friedman
The homeless woman known only as "Mama," who was found dead on a bench in Grand Central Terminal on Christmas Day, died of emphysema and pneumonia, the medical examiner's office has reported.

The Coalition for the Homeless, which disclosed the report yesterday, has scheduled a burial service for "Mama" today and a memorial service and candlelight march to Grand Central tomorrow for her and an unknown number of other homeless men and women who have died in the past year.

Tom Styron, program director for the coalition, said that deaths among the homeless in emergency rooms, abandoned buildings and on the streets may number "in the hundreds" and he has asked for access to the medical examiner's records to determine how many people have died in the city who have had no known address.

The woman, who appeared to be in her 60s, had spent most of the nights before her death sleeping on an unheated subway ramp just outside the terminal, which is closed to the public and the homeless between 1:30 and 5:30 a.m. Several of the homeless said she had declined to go to a shelter.

Two homeless men who observed the woman's labored breathing on Christmas Eve said Metro-North police ignored their pleas to call an ambulance for the woman.

Modest burial services for the woman are scheduled for 2:15 today at Maple Grove Cemetery, 83-15 Kew Gardens Rd., in Kew Gardens.

However, the homeless, those who work on their behalf and other New Yorkers, have been invited to a memorial service at 7:30 tomorrow night, at the Beth El Chapel of Temple Emanu-El, on Fifth Avenue at 65th Street, to be followed at 8:15 by a candlelight procession to Grand Central.

< Return To News Archive ^ back to top