Resolution J3885-2013

Mourning the death of Lee Lorch, distinguished citizen and devoted member of his community

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  • Mar 11, 2014: ADOPTED
  • Mar 11, 2014: REPORTED TO CALENDAR FOR CONSIDERATION
  • Mar 7, 2014: REFERRED TO FINANCE

Text

LEGISLATIVE  RESOLUTION  mourning  the death of Lee Lorch, distinguished
citizen and devoted member of his community

WHEREAS, It is the sense of this Legislative Body to honor and recognize
individuals who made significant contributions to the  human  and  civil
rights of New York State, and therefore it is fitting and appropriate to
recognize the life and work of Lee Lorch; and
  WHEREAS, Born on September 20, 1915 in the borough of Manhattan in New
York  City,  Lee  Lorch  attended  Townsend Harris High School, where he
demonstrated a  highly  developed  acumen  for  mathematics  that  would
portend  an  extensive  and  decorated  career  in  academia teaching at
renowned colleges and universities in the United States and Canada; and
  WHEREAS, He later  received  his  undergraduate  degree  from  Cornell
University  in  Ithaca,  New  York  in  1935,  and subsequently earned a
doctorate degree at the University of Cincinnati in 1941, both of  which
nurtured his vast talent and allowed him to excel as a mathematician and
professor; and
  WHEREAS, Lee Lorch became disenchanted with his employment in a draft-
exempt  position during the World War II effort and dutifully served his
country by bravely enlisting in the United States Army Air Corps,  serv-
ing in India and the Pacific between 1943 and 1946; and
  WHEREAS,  Following  Lee  Lorch's  wartime service, he returned to New
York City in the spring of 1946 to teach mathematics at the City College
of New York and found a dire shortage of affordable housing; and
  WHEREAS, In 1948, after tirelessly searching for  two  years  to  find
suitable  accommodations for his family, Lee Lorch was able to secure an
apartment in Stuyvesant Town, Metropolitan Life's newly developed  resi-
dential  complex in Manhattan comprised of 35 buildings and 8,759 apart-
ments for middle-income New Yorkers, with  a  preference  for  returning
U.S. war veterans; and
  WHEREAS,  He  was  keenly aware of the vile effects of racism from the
atrocities committed in World War II and was morally offended by  Metro-
politan Life's policy barring black residents from Stuyvesant Town; and
  WHEREAS, In 1949, after the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that
Metropolitan  Life's discriminatory practice was not in violation of the
Federal and State Constitution despite its having  received  a  generous
tax subsidy and use of eminent domain, Lee Lorch joined 11 other tenants
in forming the Town and Village Committee to End Discrimination in Stuy-
vesant Town, whose ranks eventually grew to 1,800; and
  WHEREAS, Lee Lorch proved his actions were equal to his words by open-
ing his own apartment to a black family, Hardine and Raphael Hendrix and
their son, while he taught at a job outside of New York City; and
  WHEREAS,  As  a  result  of his efforts, those of the Town and Village
Committee to End Discrimination,  and  growing  political  and  economic
pressure, Metropolitan Life finally relented in January 1952, and ceased
its  discriminatory  practice of barring black residents from Stuyvesant
Town; and
  WHEREAS, Lee Lorch's determined battle to end discrimination at  Stuy-
vesant Town laid the groundwork for and presaged the Fair Housing Act of
1968 which prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of
dwellings; and
  WHEREAS,  His  anti-discrimination  efforts unfortunately earned him a
reputation as an agitator and troublemaker in the institutional academic
community, which drove him from his job  at  City  College  and  from  a
succession of other U.S. colleges and universities, before he settled in
Canada,  first  at  the  University of Alberta and then, for the last 17
years of his career, at York University; and

  WHEREAS, Lee Lorch's mathematical expertise and civil rights  contrib-
utions  earned  him  respect  and  adulation  at  his many institutions,
including The City University of New York, which awarded him an honorary
degree in 1990; and
  WHEREAS,  With  his  death on February 28, 2014, New York State lost a
native son, one of New York City's foremost mathematicians and anti-dis-
crimination  fighters  whose  selfless  efforts  helped  open   one   of
Manhattan's  most  esteemed  and enduring middle-class housing complexes
for residents of every race; now, therefore, be it
  RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause  in  its  deliberations  to
mourn  the  death  of  Lee  Lorch, renowned mathematician, professor and
humanitarian; and be it further
  RESOLVED, That copies of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be tran-
smitted to the family of Lee Lorch.

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