Volume 77 / Number 36 - Feb. 06 - 12, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Sidney Landau, 90, textiles, birds and all that jazz

By Albert Amateau

Sidney Landau, a Village resident for nearly 50 years, a jazz lover and amateur musician, an avid bird watcher and a supporter and volunteer with The Fortune Society, died Jan. 22 in St. Vincent’s Hospital of pneumonia after a short illness at the age of 90.

“He was an excellent dancer — he mastered tap and tango — and was out dancing the Friday night before his illness set in,” said his granddaughter, Anya Stagakis.

Born in Brooklyn to Annie Arnold and Barnett Landau, immigrants from Yugoslavia, Sidney Landau joined the Army Air Corps during World War II and was a flight instructor in Arizona. After the war, he went to City College and, after graduation, became a textile salesman.

Widowed twice, his first wife, Phyllis Rowand, died 40 years ago. His second wife, Jean Millet, died in 1992.

With partners, he founded a textile importing firm, Mayles Textiles, in 1950, and in connection with the business, spent time in Italy where he became fluent in Italian and explored the hillsides in Tuscany, his granddaughter said.

“He was a successful businessman, but business was not as important to him as the arts, nature and human justice,” his granddaughter said. “Jazz was his lifelong passion. He was an accomplished guitarist. He played piano and he took up singing in his 80s,” she said. “He was a regular at Cucina Stagionale’s Monday night jazz jam sessions on Bleecker St. and joined a group of old jazz nuts who called themselves the ‘Jazz Police’ and went to every jazz show in town,” she said.

“He sang at his 90th birthday party last year — he had a guest list of 90 people,” Stagakis said. Landau also played tennis twice a week and worked out at the McBurney YMCA in Chelsea, she added.

A member of the New York City Audubon Society, he often went on birding walks through Central Park and Jamaica Bay, and around his summer home in Wellfleet on Cape Cod. He was an antiwar activist, a contributor to Doctors Without Borders and a volunteer with The Fortune Society, which supports and advocates for ex-offenders.

A jazz memorial will be announced later. In addition to Anya Stagakis, four other grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; a daughter, Nina Stagakis; two stepdaughters, Elizabeth Millet and Jessica Rosenberg, also survive. Contributions may be made to The Fortune Society in Landau’s memory.

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