Beatrice played as a child on the tree-lined streets of Canarsie when Brooklyn was “the garden spot of the world” according to her father Harry Aronson, also known as “Honest Harry” by the locals who booked bets with him. Coming of age later in Flatbush, Harry and Eleanor’s daughter, Beatrice Monica Aronson, was the local beauty breaking hearts from Coney Island Avenue to Kings Highway. On Friday Nights, when mom and dad went out, she’d hold dance parties for her friends, and when Bea and Hillie Elkins would take the floor to Lindy Hop, everyone would clear the way and sit down to watch the show. On the campus of Adelphi College, where she majored in Political Science, she met Fanchon and Ginnie, friends for life, and now she’ll join them in heaven. Later, she got involved in politics working for John “the 2nd hardest job in America” Lindsey’s mayoral campaign and became a community leader in Riverdale involving herself in many local issues including the Riverdale Greenbelt which is why Riverdale is still so beautiful today. As a key board member, and later President, of Riverdale Neighborhood House during its expansion in the late 1960s to 1980s, she focused on community outreach, education and empowerment programs for all women and minorities. Then as Director of Public Relations for Con Edison in the Bronx, she was in charge of dispersing Con Ed’s large donations to community organizations from children’s programs to homes for the aged, but especially for the woman’s causes that rose up out of the ashes of the burning Bronx in the late 70s. Leveraging her political and profession influence, she started the Network Organization of Bronx Women, the first of its kind, in 1980, which focused on women helping women connect, whether they were career professionals, or just volunteers in the community looking to move into paying jobs, which was a common gateway for women’s careers back in the day. Bea herself had transitioned from housewife to executive and wanted all be woman included in the network – those at the top of the ladder to those, waiting just to take that first step.
When Con Edison needed her downtown, she left the Bronx for the glare of Manhattan when she became a spokeswoman, but she was always more than just a face on the TV news wearing a bright blue helmet over her wavy gray hair lit by bright camera lights with a young Mike Taibbi or John Tesh interviewing her on the site of emergencies from high sky gas explosions to air-born man holes landing on little dogs. In doing so, she rubbed shoulders with movers and shakers like Edward “How am I doing?” Koch, who signed the New York Council’s Proclamation, sponsored by no other than noted council member and fellow freedom-fighter June Eisland. It was a lifetime of dedication and support, not just to woman’s causes, but to programs for education and the poor, which was so needed in a New York City that was transitioning from the turbulent sixties to the burnt out seventies and finally into the eighties where it was reborn into the New York and the Bronx we know today.
Personally, she was a true blue Dodger Fan from Brooklyn who never forgave Walter O’Malley for his Devil’s Bargain to sell out the Brooklyn Faithful, and she dutifully hated the Yankees, until… she fell in love with Derrick Jeter. She became a big Yankee fan just in time to enjoy baseball again and watched the Pinstripes win 4 rings in 5 years. But in her heart, she was a Riverdalian in the true sense of the word, taking that can-do community-spirit into action, in a Riverdale where awareness was on the rise in the 60s, and the belief that we could all make a difference, became a reality. That spirit is coming back and I wish my mother could be here to see it, but she will look down on all of us from heaven as we, back here on earth, keep hope alive, and remember her, always, as a true warrior of her time. God bless you Beatrice Monica O’Brien Aronson Meltzer. God bless you mom.
Reposing Thursday July 26, 2018 from 9-11 am at Riverdale-on-Hudson Funeral Home, 6110 Riverdale Ave., Bronx NY. Prayer service at 11 am followed by Interment at Montefiore Cemetery, Springfield Gardens, Queens NY.