Friday, September 9

Larry Lieberman

My uncle Larry, the husband of my Dad's sister, Joy, has passed. Larry's life blessed with family and friends as well as interesting work and causes. He made a difference, and will be missed by us all.
The St. Louis Today obituary by Michael Sorkin, below.

"When Larry Lieberman, who died this week, and his wife tried to get a loan in 1962 to build an addition to their University City home, they were turned down because "the neighborhood was changing."
That was the beginning of what became known as "block busting."
As African-Americans started to move into nearby homes, real estate agents offered nervous white residents low prices to move out. The agents then sold the homes to black families at higher prices and high interest rates.
"All the white families other than mine moved away," recalled a daughter, Denise Lieberman of St. Louis.
Larry Lieberman was appointed to the City Council in 1965 and was elected the following year. He served for a total of 29 years, with a 10-year break in the middle. He fought block busting and championed fair housing laws in University City, which became one of the first municipalities in the state to adopt an open-housing ordinance.
Lawrence Lieberman died Wednesday (Sept. 7, 2011) at Barnes-Jewish extended care facility in Clayton. He was 85 and was diagnosed in February with congestive heart failure, his family said Thursday.
Mr. Lieberman was the only son of two Russian immigrants who opened a corner grocery on the south side of Chicago during the Depression. They gave credit to so many hungry neighbors that they nearly went broke.
They were the only Jewish family in the neighborhood. Young Larry was short and carried a violin and often had to run home to avoid being beaten by neighborhood bullies.
At 18, Mr. Lieberman left college to serve as a radioman on the Indianapolis and other ships in World War II.
He returned to the University of Illinois, where he noticed Joy Orenstein on her first day on campus. He immediately asked for a date, proposed a month later and they married a year later.
They moved to her hometown, University City. He became a civil engineer at McDonnell Douglas and worked on the space and defense programs.
On the City Council, Mr. Lieberman cast the tiebreaking vote to give Joe Edwards the liquor license that enabled him to open Blueberry Hill in 1972.
"Larry was one of the few who thought that Delmar would come back," Edwards recalled. "He supported me then and over all these years."
Mr. Lieberman also supported the business district on the Olive Street corridor, now known for its many Asian shops and restaurants.
On race relations, Mr. Lieberman was always at the forefront of fighting for equality, recalled Paul Schoomer, a former book store owner who served on the City Council with Mr. Lieberman.
"In municipal politics, individuals don't do things," Schoomer added. "Decisions are collective. But he was brilliant at helping to form coalitions and consensuses."
Former state senator Wayne Goode recalled Mr. Lieberman's "caring nature about people. He always tried to do things well, do things right."
Mr. Lieberman was president of the Missouri Municipal League, president of the St. Louis County Municipal League and served on the governor's Council on Aging.
He was a founding member of the African-American/Jewish Dialogue Task Force, sponsored by the Urban League and the Jewish Community Relations Council, who have met monthly for 20 years to explore conflicts.
His wife, Joy Lieberman, served 24 years on the University City School Board.
Mr. Lieberman retired from the City Council in 2004. He continued to publish his popular "U City News" newsletter, which frequently described events in a sentence or two.
"He just got right to the point," Edwards said.

Survivors in addition to his wife and daughter include another daughter, Sharon Cohn of Tucson, Ariz.; three sons, David Lieberman of Portland, Ore., Mark Lieberman of Denver and Daniel Lieberman of Normandy; and nine grandchildren."