Community Board 9 Member Walter South Passes Away From COVID-19

Editor's note:

The following is an email announcement sent out by Community Board 9 Chair Barry Weinberg. The Columbia Community extends heartfelt condolences to the Community Board and Walter's family, friends, and neighbors.

Barry Weinberg (Community Board 9)
March 31, 2020

Dear Community Board 9 Members and Friends,

I am heartbroken to inform you that one of the pillars of our Community Board, Walter South, passed away last night at St. Luke's Hospital from a coronavirus infection. He has been a member of our Board for nearly 40 years, and his loss is a blow to all of us and the work of the Board.

Walter was such a permanent fixture of CB9 that I don't think I had ever imagined the Board without his presence. Those who remember him from our General Board Meetings know his passion and principled positions on issues important to him, large and small. From reducing greenhouse gases by advancing passive housing as a building technique, to advocating for a right for all people to live in and enjoy the city, to historic preservation and the importance of community-drive planning, Walter was an essential source of institutional memory and expert knowledge for many issues at our Board.

Many of you will also remember what a kind, unassuming, and personable guy Walter was in those moments outside of our formal floor debates and votes. Walter was the member who would always order pizza for a Housing, Zoning, and Land Use Committee meeting out of his own pocket and arrange for someone to tip the delivery person if he couldn't be there in-person himself. Walter was the smiling face who sat at the entrance to the meeting room every holiday season with individual gifts for each board member of candied fruit from Mondel Chocolates, a favorite Morningside Heights small business. Walter was the one who would introduce himself at a meeting as "just a guy who's a member of the committee," saying nothing about his many degrees in urban planning, his long and storied career as a developer and manager of affordable housing, or his current pursuit of his PhD.

I have spoken to Walter's wife, Patricia South, who has asked that members send their memories and stories of Walter to the Board Office at [email protected] with the subject line "Walter South Memories" so that they may be shared with her. She also took the time to thank the staff at Mt. Sinai St. Luke's for their heroic efforts while Walter was in the hospital. Eutha [Prince, CB9 District Manager] and I will keep you updated as to any planned memorials or remembrances in the coming days.

Walter fought hard for his positions, but he fought because he knew that they were important. We were lucky to have Walter and his strong conscience on Community Board 9, and we will continue Walter's work on CB9 as we fight for affordable housing, economic justice, and the right of our community to determine its future.

Please, everyone, stay safe during the coming days and weeks. Continue to shelter-in-place, and reach out to your neighbors and friends, particularly those vulnerable to infection. Monitor yourself and loved ones for symptoms of COVID-19 such as headache, fever, sore throat, dry cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing, and seek medical attention when symptoms are serious and appear to have affected the lungs. Please also continue to keep in touch with the Board Office staff and myself.

I look forward to seeing you again in-person, when this pandemic has abated. We have much work to do. Until then, be well and take care of each other.

With much love,