In Memoriam Is Stollman

For decades, the name Israel Stollman, FAICP, was synonymous with urban planning. Known for his comprehensive view of the field, Stollman was instrumental in the 1978 consolidation of two planning groups into one national organization, the American Planning Association.

Stollman, who served as APA’s executive director from 1978 to 1993, died February 2, 2005, from a fall in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he was visiting his daughter Sasha. He would have turned 82 on March 15.

“Is’s death is a major loss to the field,” said Paul Farmer, AICP, APA’s current executive director. ” He played a major role in guiding the planning movement for over a half century.”

The future planner was born in 1923 to Russian Jewish immigrants on New York’s Lower East Side. In a September 1993 Planningarticle by William H. Lucy, Stollman recalled the “rich institutional life” of the neighborhood. His college years, at the City College of New York, were interrupted by a two-and-a-half year stint during World War II with the Army Air Corps. He finally received his B.S. in social science (with a self-devised major in housing and planning) in 1947, and received his master’s in city planning in 1948 from MIT.

Stollman’s 45-year-long career began with a job as junior planner for the Cleveland Planning Commission. During this time, he also taught a class in planning at Western Reserve University. He moved on to Youngstown, Ohio, and in the mid-1950’s Stollman led the effort to establish a graduate program in city and regional planning at Ohio State University. He chaired the new department until 1968. According to Lucy, the program focused on physical planning but also paid attention to to “social consequences and political and financial feasibility.”

It was the sudden death of Dennis O’Harrow in 1968 that started Stollman on a new career as association director. He was asked to take over as executive director of ASPO, which was headquartered in Chicago. It was a politically turbulent time, Lucy wrote. Stollman responded with an effort to add black members to then all-white board of directors and to recruit minority planners to the profession.
For several years in the 1970s, much of Stollman’s time was taken up by the intricate negotiations leading up to the consolidation of ASPO and the other major planning group, the American Institute of Planners. The American Planning Association was formed in 1978, with Stollman as executive director. By the time of his retirement in 1994, APA membership had grown from 18,000 to 28,000 (it’s about 35,000 today).

“Is demonstrated brilliant leadership capabilities in helping to merge AIP and ASPO, said Ron Short, FAICP, president of APA’s Arizona chapter in an e-mail to chapter members. “And he then proceeded to build APA as the premier planning organization in America.”

“Is stood for the best in planning — intelligence and idealism tempered by realism. But above all, was a towering sense of integrity.”

“As executive director of APA, he oversaw its development into a first-class professional and research organization. No doubt about it. And I think he was profoundly respected by anyone who came in contact with him.

“He treated everyone the same way. He was a kind and gentle person, an ethical man of high principles. And he had a great sense of humor.” APA staffers remember his good humor at his retirement party when he donned a Beatles wig given him as a parting gift and when he joined in the jokes about his ever-present bow ties..

In 1999, Stollman became a charter member of the AICP College of Fellows.

“Is Stollman was responsible for APA’s initial contacts with China, visiting Beijing in 1978, and again in the mid-’80s,” said Jeff Soule, FAICP, APA’s Director of Policy. Stollman accompanied Soule to China in 1996, a visit that Soule says helped establish the growth and development of APA’s current China initiative.

After retirement, Stollman remained active in APA, particularly in the area of ethics, a long-time interest. He worked on the AICP Code of Ethics. In the last few years, Stollman taught classes in planning history at the northern Virginia campus of the University of Virginia, not far from his Washington home.

Last fall, he and wife Mary left for an extended visit to Australia and New Zealand, where two of his three daughters live. The couple was planning to return to Washington later this month.

APA executive director Paul Farmer notes that Stollman was a presenter at APA’s last two conferences, where “he continued to share his encyclopedic knowledge of planning with today’s planners.

An APA commemoration in honor of Israel Stollman is planned for the San Francisco conference. Donations may be made to thePlanning Foundation of APA to support the Israel Stollman Ethics Symposium. Two symposium sessions will be held in San Francisco.