Herb Sturz, a quiet force in New York City life, dies at 90
While traveling in Europe, he meets Elizabeth Lyttleton, with whom he writes a well-commented novel on Spain, “Reapers of the Storm” (1958). They married in 1958. Ms. Sturz founded what has become Argus Community, a program in the South Bronx for troubled youth, the mentally ill and drug addicts; she died in 2010.
Mr. Sturz is survived by his daughter, Anna Lomax Chairetakis Wood, scholar with the Association for Cultural Equity at Hunter College; a step-grandson; a step-great-grandson; and, in addition to Lisa Sturz, several other nieces and nephews.
He married Margaret Shaw, lawyer and mediator, in 2012. She died in 2017.
After editing Boys’ Life magazine, Mr. Sturz was recruited by Louis J. Schweitzer, chemical engineer and philanthropist, to found the Vera Institute of justice in 1961. A research organization named in honor of Mr. Schweitzer’s mother, it was created to address the inequalities faced by needy people who find themselves involved in law enforcement and the courts.
After leading Vera for 17 years, Mr Sturz was chosen by newly elected mayor Edward I. Koch in 1978 to be his deputy mayor for criminal justice. The following year he was appointed director of town planning, a job in which he reduced the height of high-rise buildings, initiated the redevelopment of Times Square, and changed zoning rules to avoid demolition of theaters in Broadway.
After resigning as director in 1986, he continued to publish his agenda as a member of the Times Editorial Board and later through philanthropy, as a senior advisor to George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. . There it further broadened its scope to include reform of overseas sureties as well as affordable housing in South Africa.
Almost 90 years old, he has gone on to grapple with a catalog of seemingly intractable social problems with a cohesive strategy of invoking first-hand research to turn skeptics into stakeholders.
In June 2019, he semi-retired to become a part-time pro bono consultant with the Open Society Foundations.