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Jose Peralta remembered for dedication to community after unexpected death

The state senator's cause of death was being determined by the city's medical examiner. 

Mourners watch as the casket is brought into

Mourners watch as the casket is brought into Saint Joan of Arc Roman Catholic Church in Jackson Heights during the funeral for State Sen. Jose Peralta on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

State Sen. Jose Peralta was laid to rest Tuesday.

Mourners gathered to pay their respects to Peralta at a funeral service Tuesday morning at Saint Joan of Arc Roman Catholic Church in Jackson Heights. A wake was held in Astoria on Monday.

Peralta, who died Nov. 21 at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, was remembered as "vibrant" at the wake at Farenga Funeral Home on 38th Street. His cause of death was being determined by the city’s medical examiner. 

Luis A. Miranda, Jr., founding partner of consulting firm MirRam Group and father of the actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, said he believes Peralta will be remembered most for his relentless support of the proposed New York State Dream Act. If passed, the legislation would provide educational support to children of immigrant New Yorkers.

"When it passes, hopefully we'll name it after him," Miranda added.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who represents parts of Manhattan and the Bronx, called on State Senate leadership and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to rename the legislation after Peralta in a letter dated Nov. 22, the day after the senator died.

"On behalf of his constituents in New York City and the greater immigrant diaspora in New York State, he was unyielding in his desire to see the New York State Dream Act passed and signed into law," Espaillat wrote. "He believed with every fiber of his being that we have an obligation to ensure that every opportunity for equity and advancement should be available to all persons."

During the wake Monday evening, flowers decorated the funeral home as people moved about and consoled Peralta's grieving family.

Queens resident Noreen Dahmu said she didn't know Peralta personally, but felt compelled to pay her respects.

"He did so much for our community and I know I'm only one person but he's done so much for all of us," she said. "He was a vibrant, brilliant, well-spoken gentleman."

A GoFundMe page set up by the lawmaker's staff raised more than $60,000 as of Tuesday afternoon to cover the cost of the funeral. Cuomo, who donated $10,000 to the fundraiser, said he was "deeply saddened" by Peralta's sudden death.

"Sen. Peralta was a dedicated public servant, a relentless advocate for Queens and a pioneer as the first Dominican American elected to the New York State Senate," Cuomo said in a statement on Twitter.

Peralta was elected as a state senator in 2010, and had represented Queens’ District 13 since. He lost his most recent re-election bid in the September primary to newcomer Jessica Ramos. 

Peralta also served as an assemblyman from 2002 to 2010.

Assemb. Marcos Crespo, who represents parts of the Bronx, said every decision Peralta made was for his community.

"It's unfortunate we lost him as a voice in our community and to watch his family lose a vibrant and relatively healthy man," he during the wake on Monday.

The Queens lawmaker is survived by his wife and two sons.

With Kayla Simas

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