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Benchmark moment for Doris Diether fans: Plaque text approval pending

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Operation Doris Diether Bench Naming is well underway.

Friends of the late Greenwich Village activist icon, who died last September at age 92, are moving full-steam ahead with their effort to dedicate a bench in Washington Square Park in her name.

The seat has already been selected — in the Alexander Lyman Holley Monument oval on the park’s west side, a spot where Diether enjoyed hanging out — and sometimes watching Ricky Syers perform with his “Little Doris” marionette of her.

Lois Rakoff, a Commmunity Board 2 member and a leading member of the effort, was in the park last Sunday to quickly check on the bench before catching a matinee of “Mister Miss America” at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater on Waverly Place.

Lois Rakoff had the light blues. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The group raised $2,500 — the required “donation” to the Parks Department to purchase the plaque — and has submitted the text. To accept contributions to the fund, the group used the Washington Square Park Conservancy since it’s a 501c-3 noprofit.

Although Rakoff did not have the exact text and order of words memorized, she said it runs something like: “Doris Diether sat here. Activist, preservationist, historian, iconic community hero. With love and gratitude.”

They hope to see a mock-up of the plaque soon.

“It’s been sent to Parks,” she said. “We’ll see if they accept all the words. We’ll see if it fits.

“Hopefully, if it comes through, we’ll have a ribbon-cutting ceremony,” she said.

Rakoff and others are also envisioning other ways to honor the memory of the Robert Moses-battling activist, including plantings in her name in the park, as well as a street co-naming.

But first, the bench!


  1. Patricia Melvin Patricia Melvin July 23, 2022

    She was known as the “Zoning Maven.” Why isn’t that first and foremost on her plaque? Her extraordinary and unfailing knowledge of the zoning laws was so often the clincher in the Village community’s fight against big developers.

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