Korean Florist Honored in Queens

John Ho, center right, son of Susan Lee, former owner of Ho Flowers and Plants in Jackson Heights, receives a citation from New York City Council member Daniel Dromm. (Photo via Korea Daily)

“Like many members of our immigrant communities here in Queens, she worked hard to provide for her family and make the world around her a better place.”

On Feb. 24, residents gathered in front of a flower shop, Ho Flowers and Plants, in Jackson Heights, Queens, as New York City Council member Daniel Dromm read lines from his citation honoring the memory of a Korean immigrant woman, Susan (Gilja in Korean) Lee, who ran the shop for nearly 42 years until her passing a year ago from a heart attack.

As a single mom raising two kids, Lee was recognized among residents as a hardworking woman who ran her flower shop from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. for seven days a week. She barely took a day off from work. Neighbors remembered her as a warm-hearted woman who always welcomed them like family with her big smile and would like to give them something sweet like candies, chocolates or fruits. Because of her kindness, the flower shop was considered a gathering place for residents in the neighborhood.

Susan Lee, former owner of Ho Flowers and Plants. (Photo via Korea Daily)

Ho Flowers and Plants had been located at 85th Street and 37th Avenue for 41 years since 1974. But, in 2015, Lee had to move it to the current location at 84th Street due to heavy burden on increased rent. About a year after moving to the new location, Lee passed away at the age of 72. Lee’s son, John Ho, took over his mother’s business. But, as the business struggled and its lease on the building was about to expire, the 43-year-old flower shop closed on Feb. 27.

Dromm, whose mother raised five sons by herself, like Lee did, said that whenever he encountered Lee, she always reminded him of his mother who passed away. Both women tirelessly worked to raise children and to give them a good education, he said. Lee also volunteered in the community by decorating streets and trees with flowers during many Jackson Heights festivals.

“Lee was a beloved mother, neighbor and important part of the Jackson Heights business community for so many years,” said Dromm. “For many years, Lee supported her two children as a single mom, working long hours to pay for their college tuition. Ms. Lee took pride in her family, her work and in helping beautify Jackson Heights. Ho Flowers and Plants became a household name due to Lee’s strong work ethic and friendly demeanor.”

“If my mother was alive, she may have not taken this citation,” said Ho, who received the citation on behalf of his mother. “She was the kind of humble person who always wanted to quietly help the community.”

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