“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans”. – words expressed by John Lennon that are an example of the life led by a devoted New York City civil servant. Twenty year old, Peter Radske was killed on December 17th, 2000 when he swerved into a tree while trying to avoid an oncoming vehicle that had drifted into his lane, according to a witness. The winding street along Juniper Boulevard South was slick and fog covered that night. A year has passed since then and 75th Street now has a traffic light to allow safer conditions for drivers – just one example of good that comes out of tragedy.
Peter Radske, graduate of Archbishop Molloy High School and a third year Sociology major at Queens College, had been sworn in as a cadet for the New York City Police Department a week before his death. The night before his swearing- in at Police Headquarters, Peter spent a night on a Paramedic Ambulance with his father, a paramedic at Flushing Hospital, to experience 911 emergencies. After that night, Pete was more motivated than ever to help serve the needs of the city.
Kind and ambitious are words used to describe a man who lived life more fully in his twenty years than some people live in fifty. He was patient and never got angry. He was the sensible in the group and never got into trouble. He was well known for keeping the peace. His love of the city was only surpassed by his love for his own neighborhood. A life-long resident of Middle Village, Pete was well known for his outgoing, kind, and caring personality. He saw wrong and tried his best to make it right. He recognized conflict and always looked for a peaceful resolution.
His friends recall specific incidences when Pete would step in to conflicts and find just the right compromise. A simple kind word, a firm handshake or a devoted ear to listen to problems, are just examples of the ways Pete would control situations.
Peter’s parents, Gerda and William, were pleasantly surprised at all of the stories they heard this past year from both friends and strangers describing his good deeds. A friend recalls a potential fight one evening, when Peter’s soft-spoken compromise and offer of pizza, quietly and quickly resolved any further disagreement.
He was well known in the Middle Village neighborhood driving his red Jeep and was always ready to assist others any time of day. He noticed a local resident stuck while in his motorized wheel chair. Pete promptly stopped, connected the necessary wires and the individual was on his way.
Pete’s part time job at Community Beverage on Grand Avenue gave him the opportunity to meet and interact with many different kinds of people. According to his employer and co-workers, there were times when he was given the responsibility to open and close the store. He was trusted and respected even at such a young age. The customers remember his contagious smile and kind assistance even at the busiest time of the day in the store.
Pete Radske was a true friend, trusted employee, and dedicated civil servant. He was also affectionately referred to as “Everyone's Big Brother.” Diana, his sister, shared him with about 100 other people who also considered him a brother. She recalls how overprotective he was, but realizes his concern was for her safety and wellbeing. His friends were as important to him as he was to them. Pete’s “Big Brother' status was a position he had respectfully earned and valued.
Dedicated and proud of living in Middle Village, Peter played first base for RGMV Little league and basketball for St. Margaret's. During his High School years he was a math tutor for Junior High students and later worked at the Learning Tree as an after school counselor.
Peter’s respect for the people he encountered came from the deep- rooted seeds set forth by his grandparents and parents. He learned at a very early age that to be respected, one must give respect. The oldest of seven grandchildren, Peter took pride in family values and devotion to simple things- love of family and tradition were values that guided his life.
Pete had a love of all music – from the most up-to-date rap to1940's Frank Sinatra. He had begun investing time and money into D.J. equipment and had an occasional private job. He was able to recognize the needs of the party and provided the entertainment for an enjoyable evening.
Karaoke was another interest that Pete participated in with many his of friends. He could be heard singing Frank Sinatra oldies, as well as an air of sincerity to the well-known “Copacabana”.
On May 12th, 2001, a tree was planted in memory of Peter in Juniper Valley Park. Located in an area where he, his sister and many friends spent their afternoons playing, it symbolizes life and hope. Adorned with a plaque, “A Friend to All,” the eastern red bud sapling will grow to be about 25 feet high. Initiated by Tom Testa, President of Middle Village Volunteer Ambulance Corps, the event included the NYC Police Department Ceremonial Unit and Color Guard, members of the NYC Police Cadets, NYC Parks Department Deputy Chief of Operations Philip Sparacio, as well as a multitude of his friends and family. The tree will remain an enduring reminder of life. Pete's infectious smile will be remembered and be the symbol of all that is good.
Since his death, the P.B.A. Widows and Children's fund has received at least $2,500 in donations in Peter’s name. His goals were clear and his commitment sincere. Peter lived his life to the fullest. “Life is what happens to you while your busing making other plans.”