Remembering Jerry Gottesman

The board and staff of Regional Plan Association mourn the passing of board member Jerry Gottesman.

Jerry joined RPA in 2009. Over the years, I had many lunch meetings with him – simple ham and cheese sandwiches – where we discussed extending subway lines, expanding airports, building public spaces and connecting communities. Jerry could dream with the best of them, but he was also a pragmatist. Often our conversations would end with him lamenting “that’s such a good idea, and so obvious – I am sure it will never happen.” But I knew he meant it tongue-in-cheek, because he was willing to support those good ideas all the same. 

There were many wonderful qualities about Jerry: his vision, his creativity, his sense of humor and his loyalty. He was also humble – especially for someone who had been so successful. He was quick to point out times when he had been wrong about a project, and he always had an eye towards improving and getting better. He seemed to take genuine pleasure in telling me how he had campaigned against the High Line, and how wrong he had been.

On Monday, after hearing of his passing, I found myself walking down Halsey Street in Newark, appreciating the new stores, improved streetscape and buzz of activity. I spoke with Anthony Borelli, who told me how Edison Properties’ Ironsides project is moving along so quickly now. This was Jerry’s vision; his dreams are coming together.  It reminded me of a saying by Jeff Zupan, that RPA advocates ideas “whose time has not yet come.” The same could be said for Jerry Gottesman, which is why he was such a dear friend and mentor to us. 

Jerry’s passing leaves a large hole. We’re all better for having known him and been part of his team.


-- Tom Wright, President, RPA