Ed Gold in a typically jovial mood.
Ed Gold, C.B. 2 elder statesman, dies at age 84
By Albert Amateau
Ed Gold, a leading member of the Reform movement that wrested Democratic leadership from Carmine DeSapio 50 years ago and a member for more than 40 years of the community board that covers Greenwich Village, died Thurs., Sept. 9, at the age of 84.
Gold, who retired from Fairchild Publications in 1991 after 40 years as a writer and editor, continued to write opinion columns and first-person pieces for The Villager, the last one appearing in May. His topics ranged from U.S. foreign policy to Mafia hit man “Mad Dog” Sullivan, who married one of Gold’s clerks at Fairchild.
“He was our elder statesman, our board historian and our expert on parliamentary procedure. We all looked up to him,” said Jo Hamilton chairperson of Community Board 2. “He was a voice of reason, and his great sense of humor kept everything in perspective.”
He was an early supporter of the political career of former Mayor Ed Koch, beginning with their founding membership of Village Independent Democrats in 1957. But Ed Gold and Ed Koch became estranged in recent years. They fell out in 2004 when Koch endorsed George W. Bush in the presidential election — specifically after Gold criticized Koch in an article in The Villager, accusing him of having become a “neo-con.”
Gold was subsequently excluded from the “Koch Klatch,” the biweekly lunch and political schmooze with former Koch administration veterans.
But Koch and Gold were both in New York Presbyterian Hospital for various ailments more than a year ago when they spoke over the phone for the first time in years. Gold told The Villager that the conversation was cordial.
Carol Greitzer, a former city councilmember active in the Reform Democratic movement, spoke about her close political association with Gold since the 1960’s.
“He succeeded me as president of V.I.D. in 1961,” she recalled last week. “We were talking about getting a book together about the Reform movement and other things about the Village but his health put that on hold,” she said.
Arthur Stoliar, Gold’s friend and neighbor, recalled Gold’s stories of his time as a reporter and editor for the Gallup Independent in New Mexico.
“He told hilarious stories about being the only Jew in town and how he became a deputy sheriff in Gallup,” Stoliar said.
Gold’s friends last week fondly recalled his favorite gathering places, especially Joe Jr., the diner on Sixth Ave. at 12th St., that closed a year ago.
“It was our soapbox and club,” said Ron Schneider, a former president of School Board 2, referring to Joe Jr. “People sitting at the counter and adjoining tables would toss in their opinions,” Schneider said. “I think Ed started to decline after Joe Jr. closed.”
Gene’s Restaurant on W. 11th St. was another place where Gold and his friends would repair to on various occasions. Prior to Gene’s, their rendezvous was the Beatrice Inn, until it became a chic nightclub.
John LoCicero, a friend of Gold’s as well as Koch’s, recalled that the old Lion’s Head on Christopher St. across from Christopher Park was “where we’d go to eat and hang out after meetings.” Gold was president of the Committee of Democratic Voters, an influential Reform umbrella group during the early 1960’s. “It was also known as the Roosevelt Lehman Finletter Committee, after Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert Lehman and Thomas K. Finletter,” LoCicero said. “Every Reform club in town wanted to be included in it,” he remarked.
Judge Diane S. Lebedeff, a constant companion of Gold’s during the past few years, recalled her friend’s wonderful sense of fun.
“When we began dating, The Villager ran a Scoopy item that we were ‘an item.’ It was charming,” she said.
Doris Diether, a fellow veteran member of Community Board 2, noted that Ed Gold’s membership on the board, which began in 1967, was second longest after her own service, which began in 1964.
“The Archives Committee was Ed’s baby.” Diether recalled. The committee administered funds derived from the conversion of the old U.S. Customs warehouse at Greenwich and Christopher Sts. into residential use more than 20 years ago. The fund distributed $1.6 million over 15 years in the C.B. 2 area.
Gold was vice chairperson of the board for six terms and served on the Parks, Zoning and Waterfront committees, as well as the Institutions Committee. He took particular interest in two issues of great importance to the community: New York University expansion and liquor-license applications.
“Ed Gold was the reasonable voice in many of the situations when feelings became intense,” said Henry Stern, Parks Commissioner in the Koch administration. Speaking of Gold’s relationship with Koch, Stern said they were “frenenemies” from the beginning.
Edward Gold was born in the Bronx, and went to Columbia University where he was editor in chief of The Spectator — the undergraduate daily newspaper — and associate editor of the Columbia Yearbook. He was also secretary of the Student Council at Columbia, and earned a B.A. in 1947. He earned a master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School in 1948.
His first job after Columbia was as a caption writer for Acme Newspictures. In 1949 he joined the staff of the Gallup, N.M., Independent where he was a reporter, sports editor and columnist.
Gold came back to New York in 1952 when he joined Fairchild Publications, publishers of Women’s Wear Daily and other daily and weekly business newspapers. From 1960 to 1965 he specialized in management news for all the Fairchild papers, and from 1965 to 1991 when he retired he was manager of Fairchild Books.
He married Annalee Kram, a freelance writer at Fairchild, who died in 1998.
Mort Sheinman, a former Fairchild colleague, recalled that Gold wrote a piece about S.I. and Mitzi Newhouse and Vogue magazine in 1961.
“Vogue pulled their advertising from Women’s Wear for a time because they didn’t like what Ed said in the story,” Sheinman noted with glee.
Olga Kontzias, who still works in the Fairchild Books division, recalled that Gold hired her in 1968.
“He was a good mentor,” she said, “willing to take a chance on young people and he wasn’t afraid of intelligent women, which was something back then.”
Columns by Gold twice helped The Villager win Best Editorial Page in the New York Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest. One column, in 2000, was on Bob Kerrey’s assuming the presidency of The New School and the other, in 2005, was on Beat figure Lucien Carr, who Gold knew at Columbia.